At one point in the ensemble romantic comedy "Crazy, Stupid, Love.", Emma Stone's character has hooked up with Ryan Gosling's, and she asks the ridiculously ripped actor to take off his shirt. "Those are Photoshopped!" she gasps as she stares wide-eyed at his abs.
Gosling's body is not artificially enhanced, but her comment can be applied to the movie in general, because the polished stars exude an effortless chemistry that makes you less likely to notice the script blemishes and plot contrivances that would make this just another rom-com with a lesser cast.
Like in "Date Night," another hit starring Steve Carell, "Crazy, Stupid, Love." opens with Cal Weaver (Carell) having a dull dinner at an expensive restaurant with his wife, Emily (Julianne Moore). But whereas the couple in "Date Night" seemed complacent with their shared lack of excitement, Emily drops the bomb that she wants a divorce in lieu of dessert. She confesses on the car ride home that she has been having an affair with a coworker, David Lindhagen (Kevin Bacon), which prompts Cal to leap out of the car.
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After moving out, Cal tries to move on by drowning his sorrows at a swank local bar. He attracts the attention of Jacob Palmer (Gosling), a sharp-dressed playboy who effortlessly scores with the ladies and offers to help Cal find his game. Jacob spruces up Cal's wardrobe and tutors him on how to seal the deal with a woman, which Cal eventually does with a randy schoolteacher played by Marisa Tomei. The more women that Cal sleeps with, the more he realizes that his first love -- his only love -- is the one he should be fighting for.
Meanwhile, in a strange twist of fate, Jacob the unapologetic lothario has started to fall for Hannah (Stone), a law student who initially blew off his advances but who went back to pick him up at the bar after her dull boyfriend questioned the longevity of their relationship. Both Cal and Jacob are exploring new romantic terrain after meeting each other, but neither of them realizes just how intimately intertwined their lives have become until the film's third act.
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"Crazy, Stupid, Love." is one of those movies with several stories going on that all come together after the obligatory romantic comedy "grand gesture" made by the leading man (Carell) at the end. Not only do we have Cal getting his groove on and Jacob learning to see at least one woman as more than a disposable sex object, but we have Emily's awkward work relationship with David, and Cal's 13-year-old son dealing with his deep feelings for the family babysitter who, in turn, is secretly in love with Cal. In this town, all the characters -- even seemingly random ones like the wildcat teacher played by Tomei -- have some sort of surprise tie to the married couple eating dinner at the beginning. This kind of domino storytelling can be fun to watch on-screen if you don't see the twists in the road coming from a mile away, and, thankfully, that is mostly the case here.
"Crazy, Stupid, Love." is rated PG-13, so keep that in mind if you're checking out this movie just to see the infamous "nude" scene where Gosling lets it all hang out in front of Carell in a locker room (i.e. you're not going to see it, ladies). The real draw here is not Gosling's gym results but the believability of the characters in a situation with more coincidences than the Casey Anthony trial. Carell, Moore, Gosling and Stone just might sell you on the idea that some loves were built to last while they give you a few laughs along the way.
Extras! Both the DVD and Blu-ray contain "Steve and Ryan Walk Into a Bar," a silly featurette in which Carell and Gosling sit on the bar set and chat about their characters, costars and the atmosphere on set. Also included are 14 deleted scenes, including an alternate ending, as well as a short featurette called "The Player Meets His Match" about the characters played by Carell and Gosling.