They didn’t play Beyonce’s Crazy in Love, or two beautiful ballads from the early ‘70s – Van Morrison’s Crazy Love or Poco’s song of the same name.
I was surprised that the commercials, which made this look like the 41-Year-Old Virgin, gave away key plot points (they’ve since gone to running a commercial that plays a song that works – Queen’s Crazy Little Thing Called Love – and various scenes that give nothing away).
The way Ryan Gosling approaches Steve Carell – who just had his wife (Julianne Moore) ask for a divorce – seems believable.
You get that usual scene where the good looking person shows the loser how to dress, but at least they don’t use some goofy song like I’m Too Sexy or Pretty Woman. It’s done quickly, and we see that Gosling makes good suggestions; although they do the two movie clichés I’m sick of – the constant slapping in the face, and throwing away the old clothes. Why throw away Carell’s shows when he has to still walk around the mall?
It was cute when Will Smith slapped Kevin James once in Hitch. Anything more, and you’re probably getting socked in the nose by the person you slapped the 5th time.
Emma Stone, who’s taking all those roles Lindsay Lohan would’ve had if she wanted to act instead of party, didn’t do it for me in this. She was great in Easy A and a few other things, but something about watching her deal with a boyfriend that doesn’t want to commit (played by singer Josh Grobin), just didn’t ring true.
One of the other plots, involving the son that has a crush on the older babysitter, doesn’t work either. It’s gross at times, and pathetic at others. Now, the babysitter having a crush on Carell – that’s hysterical. Not just the direction it eventually takes, but just the way she lashes out on Moore for leaving him; or approaching the “popular” girl at school for advice.
Kevin Bacon gives us a whole new set of actors that will help when we’re playing the Six Degrees game, and I think it was smart not to make him a snake. He’s pursuing Moore, even though she’s coming out of a marriage and has kids that would like to see their parents stay together.
Marisa Tomei only has a handful of scenes, but she steals the show. Her initial scene was a bit over the top, but her later ones work wonderfully.
There’s also an appearance by one of the most underrated comedians around, former Daily Show correspondent Beth Littleford. Why she doesn’t get more roles is beyond me.
The film has a few missteps. One of those is a scene with a speech that’s painful to watch and completely unrealistic. The school would’ve stopped that immediately.
It’s all over the map at times, but generally well paced and plays it straight during the times it should. This makes the romantic moments really work. Two scenes with Carell talking to his wife are among the most romantic I’ve seen on film in years.
The movie ends up working because it’s a smart comedy. That’s rare these days.
It gets 3 ½ stars out of 5.