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“Isn’t It Bromantic?”

Grade: B (RENT IT)

IN CASE YOU hadn’t heard, the feet are the windows to the soul.  At least, the opening shots of “Crazy Stupid Love,” in which we see various couples engaged in playful games of footsy under restaurant tables, suggest as much.  The credits come to a screeching halt with the first sight of Mr. and Mrs. Weaver’s feet which, removed from each other and planted firmly on the floor, say a lot about their moribund marriage.  Worse, Cal Weaver (played by Steve Carell) is decked out in suburban dad-wear – khaki pants and New Balance sneakers – and unbeknownst to him, his wife has slept with a coworker (Kevin Bacon).  Yes, the thrill is gone for Emily Weaver (played by Julianne Moore) though she’s not sure she wants the single life either.  When the two can’t decide on a dessert, Cal suggests they simultaneously blurt out exactly what it is they’re craving.  But Emily doesn’t exude baked Napoleon, as Cal might have hoped, but “I want a divorce.”  How a good-natured guy like Cal can rescue and restore his marriage becomes the premise which “Crazy Stupid Love” pursues with entertaining results.  This is another comic success from “Bad Santa” writer-director team Glenn Ficarra and John Requa who, in 2009, debuted with the underrated “I Love You Philip Morris,” the story of a gay conman (Jim Carrey) who only has eyes for Ewan McGregor.

After free-falling into newfound bachelorhood after twenty plus years of marriage, Cal lands in a posh nightclub packed with beautiful and available women.  He becomes something of a dreadful fixture in the bar, however, as he drinks too much and bores strangers with the details of his breakup.  Carell’s delivery is pitch-perfect as we watch an inebriated Cal talking (slurring) to himself: “You know what word isn’t used much any more? Cuckold!  I was cuckolded by my ex-wife!  She made a cuckold out of me.”  And just as Cal becomes a social car-wreck from which you can’t look away, Jacob (Ryan Gosling) steps in to remake this lonesome loser into the Casanova he knows Cal has hiding inside.  In his crisp collars and tailored suits, Jacob isn’t just a clothes horse but a sartorial stallion.  Gosling is also like licorice for the eyes and even Cal is seduced; the two develop a deep and enduring bromance.  When he meets Cal at a LA shopping mall, Jacob throws Cal’s sneakers over the balcony before shepherding him through a new-clothes shopping spree, assuring him that Emily will rue the day she ever left him.  This is the capitalistic ethos personified: the road to romance runs right through your wallet.

The banal title notwithstanding, “Crazy Stupid Love” will charm you in large part because of Carell’s anxious everyman antics and the smirking ease of Gosling’s performance.  It’s good to see the latter lightening his pallette after last year’s pathos-laden “Blue Valentine.” The script is also layered with charming though familiar subplots. The Weavers’ preadolescent son, Robbie (Jonah Bobo), for example, has made a religion out of his babysitter Jessica (Analeigh Tipton) who is too infatuated with her employer Cal to notice.  Coincidences multiply in “Crazy Stupid Love,” which is cleverly plotted by “Cars” screenwriter Dan Fogelman, but perhaps too much so in the film’s final moments.  Set at a backyard BBQ, the resolution feels like a sitcom where loose ends are tied together too tightly.  Still, in a summer cinemascape occupied by Smurfs and penguins, it’s refreshing to see a romantic comedy aimed at grown-ups as crazy and stupid as we may be.

For my “Bromance Flix and the State of Dudedom” (2010 Film Review of “The Hangover,” et al) see: