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Crazy, Stupid, Love. Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Copy Review

Crazy, Stupid, Love. (2011) movie poster Crazy, Stupid, Love.

Theatrical Release: July 29, 2011 / Running Time: 118 Minutes / Rating: PG-13 / Songs List

Directors: Glenn Ficarra, John Requa / Writer: Dan Fogelman

Cast: Steve Carell (Cal Weaver), Ryan Gosling (Jacob Palmer), Julianne Moore (Emily Weaver), Emma Stone (Hannah), Jonah Bobo (Robbie Weaver), John Carroll Lynch (Bernie Riley), Analeigh Tipton (Jessica Riley), Josh Groban (Richard), Marisa Tomei (Kate Tafferty), Kevin Bacon (David Lindhagen), Liza Lapira (Liz), Joey King (Molly Weaver), Beth Littleford (Claire Riley)

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Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Copy • DVD + Digital Copy • Movie-Only Blu-ray + Digital Copy • Instant Video

So, Steve Carell has left "The Office" to make movies on a regular basis. That makes sense; movie stardom is the next step up from television, Carell's show was already past its prime when he announced his departure, and he has had a burgeoning film career since near the beginning of the mockumentary's run anyway. There are just two major flaws in the plan.

Firstly, in unprofessional boss Michael Scott, Carell had one of television's greatest characters. With him gone, the once hilarious show has plunged to unwatchability, even though his final episodes there were some of the series' strongest. Secondly, Carell has not made the best of films. Aside from Anchorman (a great role in a great comedy) and Little Miss Sunshine (a weightier performance in an appealing, offbeat Oscar-winning indie),
Carell's features have not reached the same heights as his TV show, for which he was criminally unawarded by the Emmys. He lent his voice to the above average animated films Over the Hedge and Horton Hears a Who!. Dinner for Schmucks was pretty entertaining primarily because of him. I'm in the minority in not being crazy about his first taste of leading man status, The 40-Year-Old Virgin. Everything else starring him has been mediocre or worse.

But, Carell has proven a reliable draw, his efforts repeatedly grossing about twice what they would with a different male lead. That streak continues with Crazy, Stupid, Love., an adult-oriented, mid-summer release that has unexpectedly landed high in the second tier of all romantic comedies with earnings of $84 million domestically and $142 M worldwide. This is the clearest assertion of Carell's marquee value to date. Whereas other high-performing movies like Date Night and Get Smart could credit a striking concept or familiar title, this has neither and while the video cover paints it as an ensemble, Carell's top billing wasn't merely alphabetical; he claimed the lion's share of the theatrical one-sheet and handily leads the pack in screentime.

In "Crazy, Stupid, Love.", cool ladies' man Jacob Palmer (Ryan Gosling) schools recently-separated middle-aged Cal Weaver (Steve Carell) on fashionable footwear, among other things.

Carell plays Cal Weaver, a middle-aged man who got married young and has long been complacent. In the opening scene, Cal's wife Emily (Julianne Moore) announces she'd like a divorce, a declaration that comes with a confession of infidelity. Completely blindsided, Cal cannot even muster a reply, other than jump out of the moving car she is driving. Single for the first time in his adult life, Cal takes to a swanky bar and tries drowning his sorrows in cranberry cocktails and sharing his sob story loudly to no one in particular. Though no woman stays interested long enough to hear it out, one man does. A young metrosexual playboy by the name of Jacob Palmer (Ryan Gosling) is bothered and moved enough to help out.

Jacob volunteers to coach Cal in seduction, an art in which he has much experience and success. He helps make over Cal from his New Balance sneakers and oversized blazer to clothes that fit, stylish shoes, and a fashionable haircut. Far-fetched though the charity may seem, the effects are immediate. Cal uncovers confidence he didn't know he had and manages to turn challenging ice-breaking conversations into the start line of a comfortable jaunt that ends in the bedroom.

While Cal is scoring with women (including a former alcoholic played by Marisa Tomei), Jacob falls off the radar, as he becomes smitten with Hannah (Emma Stone), a young almost-lawyer who initially resisted his advances and denies (thinly) that her life is PG-13. Their romance assumes a secondary presence to Cal's conflict, which finds him still in love with Emily, possibly reciprocally. The "C" storyline consists of the crush that Cal and Emily's 13-year-old son Robbie (Jonah Bobo) has on his 17-year-old babysitter Jessica (Analeigh Tipton), who herself is smitten with an older man. These two subplots add cuteness and subtract believability.

Their first post-separation parent-teacher conference is highly awkward for Cal (Steve Carell) and Emily (Julianne Moore). Jacob's new romance with Hannah (Emma Stone) is of growing interest to the film and fuels its Third Act conflict.

When you think about it, it's understandable why most mainstream romantic comedies aren't considered good movies. Love is an issue that for most people is as important as any. To take that subject and try to make it PG-13 funny for as many people as possible while adhering to the most fundamental design in all of storytelling (fairy tale-like fulfillment) leaves almost no room for creativity or imagination. Most romcoms are easy to dismiss and enjoyed only as comfort food for (predominantly female) romantics or compromise fodder for young couples.
The rare romantic comedies that have earned acclaim are ones that do more than put a pretty girl and handsome boy together by setting and clearing obstacles. Movies like The Graduate, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, and (500) Days of Summer aspire to some realism as they delve into emotions of romance beyond dislike and love. That is not typically a recipe for box office success, though, so such films tend to be smaller, independent productions.

Crazy, Stupid, Love. falls somewhere in between the substantive aforementioned and the more commonplace inanity personified by Matthew McConaughey. Writer Dan Fogelman, whose resume includes the animated films Cars, Bolt, and Tangled and the coolly-received holiday comedy Fred Claus, brings enough of an indie feel to place this above the typical mainstream romcom. He imbues the characters with real personality instead of making them merely the medium for telling jokes. Topics like divorce and heartache are not treated lightly, sparing the proceedings a sitcom feel. At the same time, the $50 million production budget requires that this movie play to a large audience in a way that satisfies them. When the movie falters, it is largely on account of serving this interest.

Crazy misses mostly with laugh-seeking broader material, like the idea that Cal would sneak back to his old home at dark to secretly tend to the lawn and the inevitable destination of the babysitter's "love" triangle. It also turns the interconnectedness of its plots into two major Shyamalanian twists, which is gimmicky but only if you're looking for them and able to foresee them. The film's climax, in which Robbie's salutatory speech at his 8th grade graduation becomes the kind of big scene that only exists in the movies, offers mushy resolution that undermines the prudence previously exhibited. For me, the false notes of the happy ending and the occasional misjudgment throughout were enough to make the film fall short of satisfaction and classifiable in the same league as Carell's other middling vehicles, like the similarly saccharine dramedy Dan in Real Life.

Others rated the film more highly, from critics (certified fresh high 70s on Rotten Tomatoes) to ordinary moviegoers (a solid 7.6 on IMDb). While my own reaction is less enthusiastic than those scores, I can at least categorically declare the movie better than a good portion of its genre, including most mainstream contemporaries. It's also a marked improvement over Glenn Ficarra and John Requa's directorial debut, last year's I Love You Phillip Morris.

Warner treats Crazy, Stupid, Love. to its standard three releases this week: single-disc DVD, movie-only Blu-ray, and, the subject of this review, a 2-disc combo pack consisting of a Blu-ray with bonus features and a movie-only DVD. According to Amazon, though only the lattermost advertises it, all three editions are equipped with a unique code for redeeming a digital copy.

Watch Jacob and Hannah's meeting in this video clip from Crazy, Stupid, Love.:

Crazy, Stupid, Love. Blu-ray + DVD + UltraViolet Digital Copy cover art -- click to buy from Amazon.com Blu-ray & DVD Details

2.40:1 Widescreen (DVD Anamorphic)
Blu-ray: 5.1 DTS-HD MA (English), Dolby Digital 5.1 (Portuguese, Thai)
DVD: Dolby Digital 5.1 (English); Both: Dolby Digital 5.1 (French, Spanish)
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish; BD-Only: Chinese, Korean, Portuguese, Thai
Not Closed Captioned; Extras Subtitled
Release Date: November 1, 2011
Two single-sided discs (BD-25 & DVD-9)
Suggested Retail Price: $35.99
Blue Eco-Friendly Keepcase in Cardboard Slipcover
Also available in standalone DVD ($28.98 SRP), movie-only Blu-ray ($29.98 SRP), and on Amazon Instant Video

VIDEO and AUDIO

In defiance of its genre, Crazy, Stupid, Love. is plenty cinematic. The Blu-ray's 2.40:1 presentation mostly satisfies with its thoughtful compositions. The transfer does have a bit more grain and softness than you would expect (making it look more like a '90s film than a present-day one), but the picture is otherwise clean and detailed. The most prominent feature of the 5.1 DTS-HD master audio is licensed music, which the film is full of. The soundtrack distributes it nicely without drowning out the crisp dialogue. Though it's not a movie whose audio you'll really notice, the quality is without issue.

Happily, the DVD here doesn't have to share its limited disc space with digital copies, which are instead relegated to a Flixster download. Still, the disc barely makes use of its second layer, which is less than ideal for a movie running just shy of two hours. Nonetheless, it looks and sounds just fine. A little dark and lacking in detail, but most viewers will consider it good enough.

Silly answers flow when Ryan Gosling and Steve Carell are interviewed on the film's bar set. This deleted first exchange finds Cal trying to chat up Jacob while they use urinals.

BONUS FEATURES, MENUS, PACKAGING and DESIGN

Just three short bonus features are included on the Blu-ray
and all are presented in high definition.

"Steve and Ryan Walk into a Bar" (6:40) has the two leading men sitting at the bar set in between setups and talking about the movie, their characters, and life. Film clips (some of them cut from the film itself) are interspersed throughout this fun interview.

"The Player Meets His Match" (5:40) gathers more remarks from Gosling, Carell, and some from their co-star Emma Stone about the film, characters, and their real-life thoughts on love.

Finally, we get a 12½-minute deleted scenes reel. Most of these are extensions, some of them are amusing, one of them is an alternate ending, and none of them would have dramatically changed the film.

Though it doesn't make room for the digital copy files, the DVD here still lacks the one bonus feature (the deleted scenes) of the one sold on its own. Why, I have no idea. It does retain the two standard foreign language dubs and subtitles options, but goes without previews and scene selection.

The digital copy which you can download here is of the UltraViolet variety, which means you'll need to sign up both Flixster and UltraViolet accounts but will be able to gain access to the file on all of your devices through a cloud-based digital library. Promising in theory, but online comments have described the actual execution frustrating and fickle.

The Blu-ray opens with HD trailers for Happy Feet Two and Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows.

On both Blu-ray and DVD, the static menu is a basic portion of the cover set to a looped score excerpt. The Blu-ray disc neither resumes nor supports bookmarks.

The two discs claim opposite sides of a standard eco-friendly Blu-ray case, topped by a cardboard slipcover which provides the packaging's only references to the DVD and digital copy. An insert supplies a unique digital copy redemption code and directions, while advertising that this combo pack nets you 150 points in Warner's Insider Rewards program.

Smitten eighth grade salutatorian Robbie (Jonah Bobo) is not the one who gets to deliver the film's big climactic speech. Cal (Steve Carell) and Emily (Julianne Moore) share a laugh that is bound to be incorporated on the cover art and menu screen.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

Crazy, Stupid, Love. is genuine and substantial as far as mainstream romantic comedies go, but it still does enough to rub the wrong way, particularly in its unrealistic and jokier parts. While it's worth a viewing, especially if you're a fan of the strong cast, it's not something you're likely to return to with any regularity. With a decent feature presentation and three lightweight extras, Warner's Blu-ray combo meets but does not surpass expectations, much like the movie itself.

Buy Crazy, Stupid, Love. from Amazon.com:
Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Copy / DVD + DC / Movie-Only Blu-ray + DC / Instant Video


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Related Reviews:
New: Cars 2 • Bad Teacher • Jackie Brown • Terri • Call Me Mrs. Miracle • Winnie the Pooh • Captain America: The First Avenger
Steve Carell: Dan in Real Life • Dinner for Schmucks • Get Smart • Date Night • Evan Almighty • Despicable Me • Horton Hears a Who!
Julianne Moore: The Kids Are All Right • A Single Man • Chloe • Blindness • The Big Lebowski • Next
Ryan Gosling: Blue Valentine • Mickey Mouse Club: The Best of Britney, Justin & Christina • Remember the Titans (Director's Cut)
Emma Stone: Easy A • Ghosts of Girlfriends Past • Zombieland • Superbad | Joey King: Ramona & Beezus
Marisa Tomei: Cyrus • Wild Hogs • Four Rooms | Kevin Bacon: Footloose • X-Men: First Class • Death Sentence
How Do You Know • Mrs. Doubtfire • Hall Pass • I Love You, Man • Modern Family: The Complete First Season
Written by Dan Fogelman: Fred Claus • Tangled • Bolt • Cars | Directed by Glenn Ficarra & John Requa: I Love You Phillip Morris

Crazy, Stupid, Love. Songs List: John Legend - "Save Room", Thievery Corporation featuring Chuck Brown - "The Numbers Game", Gram Rabbit - "Lost in Place", The Acorn - "Almanac", Late Night Alumni - "You Can Be the One", Late Night Alumni - "Uncharted", Thievery Corporation featuring David Byrne - "The Heart's a Lonely Hunter", Nina Simone - "Black is the Color of My True Love's Hair", Burnham - "Automatic", Martin Medina and Juan C. Medina - "Amorcito", Quichua Mashis - "Parquesito", Glenn Ficarra - "Gay Club Sandwich", Apparat featuring Raz Ohara - "Komponent (Telefon Tel Aviv Remix)", historics - "Taverns (Jackpot Remix)", Bonobo - "Silver", Laurence Druker - "Stonehead", Miike Snow - "Animal (Remix by Mark Ronson)", Chung An - "Awnie Can", The Bamboos - "On the Sly", Jason Ruder and Martin Medina - "I'm Free", Jason Ruder and Martin Medina - "I Need Your Love", The Poets of Rhythm - "Plus Plus", Goldfrapp - "Ooh La La", Junip - "Loops", Talking Heads - "This Must Be the Place (Naοve Melody)", Martin Medina, Juan C. Medina, and Jason Ruder - "Chupas", The Dead Weather - "I Can't Hear You", Doris Troy - "Just One Look", Bill Medley and Jennifer Warnes - "(I've Had) The Time of My Life", Jason Ruder and Rob Brown - "Jammed Lady", Astrid Cowan - "Kaskinda", Say Hi - "Oh Oh Oh Oh Oh Oh Oh Oh", Spandau Ballet - "True", Danger Mouse & Sparklehorse featuring The Flaming Lips - "Revenge", The Middle East - "Blood", Andrew Bird - "Tenuousness"

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Reviewed October 30, 2011.



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