Crazy Stupid Love
Rated PG-13. Running time: 1 hour 58 min.
Related Scriptures: Romans 13:8-10; Philippians 2:1-4
wait to meet with their son's teacher.
(c) 2011 Warner Brothers
It’s great when a film exceeds expectations. Instead of another shallow romantic comedy Crazy Stupid Love turns out to be a thought-provoking tale that looks at love from the perspective of several characters of various ages, including that of adolescents. Love that is mostly unrequited, until a series of crazy, stupid events brings the various strands of the complicated story together.
Middle-aged Cal Weaver (Steve Carell) is one of love’s casualties, his wife Emily (Julianne Moore) telling him as they dine out that she wants a divorce. On the way home (she is driving) he refuses to talk about their situation, even jumping out of the moving car when she continues to try to get him to respond.
After moving out, Cal spends his nights at a bar where he drinks alone and complains aloud of his bitter fate. Jacob Palmer (Ryan Gosling) is a professional womanizer who uses the bar as a place to pick up beautiful women for his one-night stands. Cal has observed this with looks of disgust. His ranting aloud disturbs Jacob so that one night he calls Cal over to give him a lecture. Aware that the older Cal is clueless about picking up a woman, he offers to tutor him in the art. There follows a sequence of funny events as Cal tries to get back into the dating game.
The family’s 13 year-old son Robbie (Jonah Bobo) and 17 year-old babysitter Jessica (Analeigh Tipton) provide another perspective on love. Robbie is smitten by Jessica, convinced that soon their difference in age will not matter. However, Jessica rebuffs him because she has long harbored a crush on his father Cal.
As the film progresses, Emily, who had continued her affair with David (Kevin Bacon), a colleague at work, seems to be realizing that she had perhaps given up on Cal too soon, but at a parent-teacher conference Cal and the teacher Kate (a hilarious over-the-top Marisa Tomei) are shocked to recognize each other from a one-night-stand, and so Emily discards any thought of reconciliation.
Love, even eros love, has the power to transform, and we see this in the case of Jacob after he meets Hannah (Emma Stone), some years younger than he. The scene in which they bed down together, shot like it is going to be a lustful sex scene, turns into a night of tender intimacy as they talk and laugh together. Jacob tells Cal over the telephone that he has met the woman who is “a game-changer.” This leads later to a scene of outrageous slapstick when both Cal and Jacob learn Hannah’s identity.
The film’s title is an apt one, reminding us that love is beyond rationality. The film also suggests that the boundaries that we draw between eros love and agape love are not so firm or distinct. Although eros love is more of a desire to take or possess, as in the case of young Jessica and the younger Robbie, and even more so for the once lustful Jacob, it can readily change into the giving kind of love that we call agape.
The title might lead people of faith to reflect upon the apostle Paul’s version of “crazy stupid love” when he writes to the Corinthian church about the foolishness of the cross. Rated PG-13, this film would have been “R” a few years ago, so any church leader wanting to use it with a group should be cautious—but nonetheless I believe that a young adult group could have an enjoyable and rewarding time watching and discussing it.
For my longer review of the film go to www.visualparables.net