Crazy, Stupid, Love” doesn’t know what it wants to be.
As romantic comedies go, this is definitely one of the more interesting - it features a fantastic cast and some really authentic and interesting moments.
And while that alone is enough to make the film worth your time, it’s also disappointing that “Crazy, Stupid, Love” isn’t something more. This is a film with plenty of warts, yet the cast is so impressive and tries so hard that I was able to overlook them enough to be mildly entertained.
Steve Carell plays Cal, an average guy who has what would seem like the perfect life. But that changes when his wife, Emily (Julianne Moore), confesses to having an affair and asks for a divorce.
Devastated, Cal tries to rebuild his life and begins to frequent a local bar, reluctantly attempting to re-enter the single scene.
Cal’s feeble attempts are noticed by Jacob (Ryan Gosling), a smooth-talking ladies’ man who has no problem finding a different woman to take home every night. Jacob decides to help Cal regain his manhood and get his life back together, but things get complicated when Jacob discovers he may have actually found his true love, too - a young law student named Hannah (Emma Stone).
Dan Fogelman’s screenplay has a lot of moving parts and a lot of talent - including small roles for Marisa Tomei and Kevin Bacon, and a subplot involving Cal and Emily’s teenage son (Jonah Bobo) and his crush on the family’s baby sitter (Analeigh Tipton).
For the most part, Fogelman and directors Glenn Ficarra and John Requa (who co-directed the underrated “I Love You, Phillip Morris”) do a nice job of navigating through it all, but there are times when it feels rushed.
It all nearly falls apart in two critical scenes. I can’t go into detail too much without giving away spoilers, so I will just say I feel like they contain key plot points that are deliberately hidden from the audience just to create added drama.
There also is a big speech moment in the finale that is the kind of speech you only get in movies.
But even with all that, I still managed to come away mildly satisfied - in large part due to the cast. Everyone is really good here, especially Gosling. I’ve been a big fan of his work - especially in “Half Nelson” and “Blue Valentine” - but he shows a really nice comedic touch here. It’s a side of Gosling I hope we see more.
Stone is probably the next best, although I think she is underused, but that is taking nothing away from the rest of the cast members, who all manage to raise this material a notch or two above where it should be.
It left me thinking what could have been if they had been given a better script. The result here is a film good enough to get by, but one that falls well short of its potential.
Also in theaters
Speaking of falling short, the same can be said for the latest big-budget summer action film “Cowboys and Aliens” (D+). Despite a talented pedigree on both sides of the camera, it is a mind-numbingly dull excursion.
The combination of a spaghetti Western and a science-fiction horror film, “Cowboys and Aliens” takes place in the 19th century old West with a man (Daniel Craig) waking up in the middle of the desert with no memory. The only hint to his history is a mysterious metal device on his wrist.
The stranger heads to the nearest town and is greeted rather rudely, learning he may in fact be a notorious outlaw who has recently stolen from the town’s richest inhabitant - a cattle farmer named Woodrow Dolarhyde (Harrison Ford).
The two enemies are forced to put aside their differences, though, when the town is attacked by aliens that kidnap a handful of the residents.
The stranger, Woodrow and several others set out on a quest to rescue their friends and family - a journey that allows the stranger to slowly remember his past, which includes an encounter with the aliens.
“Cowboys and Aliens” tries hard, but it fails on nearly every level.
Craig does his best to channel Clint Eastwood, but he’s not very interesting, while Ford continues to play the same grumpy old man he’s played for about the last decade.
There are some solid actors in supporting roles, including Olivia Wilde, Sam Rockwell and Paul Dano - but they are wasted as well in a film that takes itself way too seriously.
That’s too bad, because director Jon Favreau showed a keen sense of humor in the “Iron Man” series. This is a film that should have played to that strength, but instead chooses to play it straight.
The result is a film that may have seemed like a good idea on paper, but is ultimately nothing more than a disjointed mess.
“Cowboys & Aliens” is rated PG-13 for intense sequences of western and sci-fi action and violence, some partial nudity and a brief crude reference and is now playing at the Great Escape 12 and Highland Cinemas in Glasgow.