Crazy Stupid Love (Ficarra & Requa, 2011)

What's it about? Nice guy Cal (Steve Carrell) is devastated when his wife Emily (Julianne Moore) announces she wants a divorce. As he drowns his sorrows at a bar, slick ladies man Jacob (Ryan Gosling) takes pity on him and endeavours to boost his confidence by giving him some pointers in the art of seduction.

Is it any good? Really enjoyable. The initial set-up promises some obvious fish-out-of-water situations as Cal struggles to get back in the dating game, and some cringeworthy set-pieces are duly delivered. However, it's a pleasant surprise to find that this angle is dispensed with fairly quickly, allowing the film to develop other elements, such as Jacob's attempts to woo law student Hannah (Emma Stone), Cal's son's teenage crush on his babysitter (who in turn has a secret crush on Cal) and Emily's flirtation with co-worker David (Kevin Bacon). These various romantic entanglements are all satisfyingly played out and together end up offering something more thoughtful than straightforward comedy misunderstandings and situations. It helps that the cast all give appealing performances, with everyone adding a bit more depth to their characters than you normally find in this type of film. (Gosling fans will be delighted to hear he also takes his shirt off a lot.) Towards the end, it perhaps inevitably veers towards sentimentality, but it never sells out completely and offsets this with some genuinely funny farce as the storylines begin to overlap. It never pretends to be particularly profound or realistic about relationships, but it's a sweet-natured romantic comedy that actually succeeds in being (gasp!) romantic and funny. I hope it starts hanging round bars, taking dispirited, boring rom-coms under its wing and giving them some pointers on how to do these things right.

Anything else I should know? At one point Jacob reveals how working Dirty Dancing into conversation with the ladies is a sure-fire seduction tactic. He's been reading my thoughts on it! Also, worth keeping an eye on directors Glenn Ficarra and John Requa, who have previously shown good form with the underseen and underrated Jim Carrey film I Love You, Phillip Morris (which they also directed) and the scabrous, non-PC Christmas comedy Bad Santa (which they wrote).

What does the Fonz think? Crazy, Stupid, Love = Funny, Enjoyable, Film

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