The corpses of creatively dead rom-coms litter our multiplexes. So it’s a pleasure to come across the sharply funny and touching Crazy Stupid Love. It’s a live one with a dream cast that keeps springing playful surprises. This comes in handy when commendably frisky directors Glenn Ficarra and John Requa (the underrated I Love You Phillip Morris) can’t resist the temptation to let Dan Fogelman’s script go soft.
Steve Carell, his Office duties behind him, is wonderfully appealing and vulnerable as Cal Weaver, who’d be a 40-year-old virgin if he didn’t marry the first and only woman he’s ever had sex with. That’s Emily (the reliably superb Julianne Moore), and she’s tired of Cal taking her and their kids for granted. So tired that she sleeps with co-worker David Lindhagen (Kevin Bacon) and kicks Cal to the curb.
Ryan Gosling scores a comic knockout as Jacob Palmer, a notorious player who takes it on himself to make over uncool Cal and get him laid. Carell makes his transformation amusing and believable. And his sparring with Gosling spins the movie into a riotous game of relationship poker. Jacob falls for hard-to-get Hannah (a scintillating Emma Stone). Cal, who wants his wife back, doesn’t see that teen babysitter Jessica (a star-is-born turn from Analeigh Tipton) has the hots for him or that Robbie (Jonah Bobo), his 13-year-old son, has the hots for Jessica. Things come to a head after Cal’s one-nighter with Kate (Marisa Tomei), who’s actually Robbie’s teacher. Ouch! What makes Crazy Stupid Love a cut above is actors who let pain seep into the laughs. Here’s a comedy you really can take to heart.