Crazy, Stupid, Love as reviewed in The Phantom TollboothI love being surprised by movies. Hats off to writer Dan Fogelman (known for writing more kid friendly films like Cars 1 and 2, Tangled, and Fred Clause).

Directors: Glenn Ficarra, John Requa
Writer: Dan Fogelman
Stars: Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling and Julianne Moore
118 Minutes

I love being surprised by movies; walking in and expecting one thing only to find something with more depth and heart than imagined. Such is the case of Crazy, Stupid, Love. By the previews it looks like your run-of-the-mill dating comedy with a sprinkling of recycled jokes and cliché characters. But instead it has surprising warmth and some truly unique humor that makes it one of the best all around rom-coms in some time.

Cal (Steve Carell) is still reeling from the announcement from his wife of 25 years Emily (Julianne Moore) that she wants a divorce. Jacob (Ryan Gosling) is a smooth, well dressed, lady killer who takes Cal under his wing in order to get him back in the dating game. Cal is also trying to keep his relationship with his kids in order and help them through the process as well. Jacob has his own problems as he finds his world turned upside down when he unexpectedly falls for Hannah (Emma Stone), a girl he didn't see coming. Throw in a smitten babysitter, an over zealous work associate and you have a genuine mix of comedy and solid family issues.

Hats off to writer Dan Fogelman (known for writing more kid friendly films like Cars 1 and 2, Tangled, and Fred Clause). Here he pens a story that easily surpasses anything that Hollywood has dealt out in this genre of late. It is smart, sophisticated and stylish while still giving lots of humor and hysterical scenarios. He could have taken the easy, sophomoric route and rehashed all the normal sexual innuendoes and adult crudeness that seems to overrun the theater. Instead he allows us to think like adults and deduct what is happening behind closed doors without shocking us with the visual. Good call, Dan.

The acting and directing also make this one sizzle. Carell doesn't stray far from past roles like Dan in Real Life but it works here. He is a man who loves his family and is trying to cope with it all. You feel for him instantly. Gosling looks great but also has a softness about him that makes his transformation believable. Emma Stone is quickly becoming one of my favorite actresses and here she is grounded and quick witted; a perfect balance to the ensemble. And keep your eye on Jonah Bobo who plays Cal's son Robbie. He pretty near steals every scene he is in.

Crazy, Stupid, Love is rated PG-13 for coarse humor, sexual content and language. Keep in mind that although this isn't an R rated romp, it is still a film made for mature audiences. The topics of adultery, divorce, and sexual exploration are common place. There is a lot of bed hopping, but discreet in style. This is not a film that those under 17 would even be drawn to since it deals with the adult side of family issues and relationships. Older couples will find this a sincere date movie filled with lot of laughs and heart felt moments; without all the awkward moments of an R rated film. I give it 4 out of 5 pick up lines. Solid writing and well crafted acting makes this one to see.

Matt Mungle

Review copyright 2011 Mungleshow Productions. Used by Permission.