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Crazy, Stupid, Love

Crazy Stupid Love

I don't know if the filmmakers got the memo, but stalking your ex isn't cool,
romantic or legal

dir: Glenn Ficara & John Requa

There’s two things wrong with that title, and I’m not referring to the grammar or punctuation.

It’s certainly Stupid, but there’s no real craziness or love to speak of.

This flick manages to achieve something that I never considered possible: it manages to be both bland AND offensive, which I thought was a combination that was oxymoronic.

I can’t even begin to describe how wrong this flick is, on how many levels, yet I can start up on how unentertaining I found it to be.

Yeah, I could start on that stuff, but instead I’ll indulge myself, as if I do anything else whenever I write about flicks. A person would never suspect it from looking at me, or from reading my reviews, or from using public transport in close proximity to me, but I am, or at least consider myself to be, something of a romantic. I’m not going to quibble about whether that’s a small ‘r’ romantic or a big ‘R’ Romantic, because that’s a pretentious bridge too far even for me. Clearly I wasn’t palling around and doing drugs with the actual Romantics like Byron, Wordsworth, Coleridge or Benny Hill, but I do still have the capacity to swoon in the presence - and at the thought of - heartbreaking beauty, overwhelming passion, and love, careless love.

This flick possesses nothing even remotely like that, but nor did I have that expectation based solely on a title. All this movie has to contribute is a couple of hours of feeble material interspersed with a painful level of farce, and some very, very creepy messages.

If you usually find Steve Carrell entertaining, then you’ll find him entertaining here, because he’s no different than anything he’s ever played that I’ve ever seen. If you find him irritating, then enjoy, because nothing you’ll see here will change your mind.

He plays a middle-aged chap called Cal whose wife (Julianne Moore) announces after a particularly boring dinner that she both cheated on him and that she wants a divorce.

He takes this badly, flinging himself out of a moving car because the sound of his annoying wife’s voice horrifies him that much.

If we didn’t like him enough already, he starts going to bars, getting drunk on girly drinks, and then continuously whining about his wife sleeping around and divorcing him.

A local lothario (Ryan Gosling, slumming) takes pity on the hapless Cal, and decides to improve Cal’s prospects as well as his technique because he’s sick of hearing him rant about his ex-wife. This player called Jacob is the physical and literal embodiment of the philosophy embodied by The Game. Not the terrible rapper with the tattoos on his face (who isn’t Lil Wayne, the other one), but the book that was written which alleged that there was an entire community of ersatz-Jersey Shore level morons who were living in LA and who had their own seduction community, which revolved around the concept of sleeping with women.

You know, as opposed to all those other communities of men that are devoted to not sleeping with women.

The horrible book written by Neill Strauss detailed all these psych techniques, strategies and tactics that would render women incapable of rejecting the advances of even the most loathsome cretin who tried hitting on them. It had all the applicability and depth of an online banner ad promising the secret three-word formula for making random women drop their panties as if they’re hypnotised.

Well, Jacob is that guy. He is the epitome of that concept, and the flick makes it look like he beds as many women a night as he can manage. Good on him, really. This could have just as easily been a documentary about how lots of women, and probably a few men, would really like to sleep with Ryan Gosling. Because that goes without saying. He’s a wonderful actor, and very nice to look at. Or so some women tell me

Of course Cal would look upon this man with envy. After all, he’s only ever known the love and body of one woman, his former wife, who rejected him for Kevin fucking Bacon. And Jacob is clearly a god towering above the shlubs arrayed around his feet. He looks like Ryan Gosling after all, and he dresses well, and he basically targets, insults and inebriates attractive women until they fly home with him and then presumably even has the decency to give them cab money when their usefulness to him has ended. How many minutes after dropping a load do you think that might be, hmm?

This Mr Miyagi has much to teach, and teach he does. Cal buys expensive clothes, and becomes able to seduce women at the drop of a credit card once he stops whining about his ex-wife.

But, but, but – he still loves her, you see. And he can’t stop stalking her, or telling her how they need to be together, because they’re soul mates, and you don’t give up on soul mates.

He even, being so wonderful and decent, sneaks home to do the gardening on the house he’s had to move out of. You know, the house his former wife no longer wants him to live in, or frequent. But there he is, aerating the lawn, and fertilising the roses. He’s not just spying on her, oh no. What a wonderful man, truly.

I couldn’t help but wonder… hmmm, are there ever any situations in the real world, where someone who’s been rejected and the relationship, if there was one, ends, but one person refuses to accept it, regardless of what their former partner says, what the police and the courts say? Is there a word or sequence of words that describes the behaviour that someone indulges in when they insist to the object of their affections that they will be together again, no matter what, no matter how many times they say no?

No, love isn’t the word I’m looking for.

I’m not sure if the flick would have been as successful if it had been called Crazy Fucking Stalkers. Doesn’t have the same zing, does it?

And being such a wonderful man, Cal also has a son, who looks like he’ll be playing a serial killer soon enough, don’t you worry, who is also stalking a girl who keeps saying ‘leave me alone, I’m not interested, you’re creeping me out’. I didn’t count the amount of times, but it’s ‘many’. And what’s Cal’s advice to his creepy son?

“When you find the one... you never give up.”

Wow. I mean, wow.

Look, it’s not like I’m saying this fairly bland and farcical romantic comedy (devoid as it is of both romance and comedy) is actually advocating the stuff I’m alleging. I’m saying that the line between what the flick advocates as what people should do for ‘love’, and what people have gone to jail for, for very lengthy sentences (when it was too late, you know, after the violent fuckwit has had how many restraining orders and such) isn’t that far apart. And the flick gives us no reason, no goddamn reason I could see why we should want any of these creeps to get the things (or the people) they want.

Love, love oh careless love. This flick couldn’t be less about love, or about anything meaningful, or offer any consolation to the lovelorn, the unrequited, the hurt and wounded, the hopeful and the worthy. This is just empty characters saying empty words about nothing I want to hear.

Jacob eventually, as a lame flick like this requires, finds someone who makes him want to give up his compulsive sport-fucking ways. Why does this woman have this impact on him? Because she’s played by Emma Stone of course. And when they fall in love over the course of a montage, we’re meant to believe something momentous has happened. Because he’s in love, you see.

Robbie, the creepy son, uses his middle school graduation as an opportunity to whine about why the seventeen-year-old girl he’s pursuing doesn’t want him. Cal gets up at the same graduation to speak in front of a crowd of parents and children about his stalking of his wife, and how he’s not going to give up, because he loves her so much. Instead of horrified faces and the police getting involved, everyone gets that slightly gooey expression on their face, like he hasn’t just publically admitted that this is going to end in a murder-suicide.

And this prompts the seventeen-year-old girl to reward thirteen-ear-old Robbie with a naked picture of herself, to get him through his troubled adolescence and to really help out with his compulsive masturbation.

So, in other words, if you just persist long enough, you creeps, perverts and psychopaths of the world, you’ll eventually get your way. Even if you spend the rest of your days behind bars, we can only hope, you’ll show ‘em, you’ll really show ‘em, won’t you?

This is a very fucked up film, all massaged and pleasantly packaged within the confines of the predictable rom-com style, but I’m pretty sure I can sense something much uglier in the script, that probably didn’t survive multiple redrafts as they tried to bland things up to appeal to the widest audience. The problem is, the vacuous sentiments and mawkish treacle doesn’t obscure the howling abyss at the centre of this flick.

3 ways in which this is one of the more horrifying movies I’ve seen recently, and that includes one of those Human Centipede flicks out of 10

“I want to show you off to my ex-wife and make her really jealous!” – oh, the love that dares not be anything but inane – Crazy, Stupid, Love