Jacob: The war of the sexes is over. We won the second women started doing pole dancing for exercise.
There aren't many romantic comedies that deviate from the tried and true formula and fewer that do it successfully but Crazy, Stupid, Love manages to reach beyond two young attractive people overcoming their initial dislike to fall in love by looking at love and relationships at every stage of life. It uses an excellent ensemble cast and intertwining story lines to show that true love is not as easy as happily-ever-after and that sometimes we get lost along the way.
The story opens with Cal Weaver (Steve Carell) being told by his wife (Julianne Moore) that she has cheated on him and wants a divorce. While the connecting thread is Cal dealing with the separation and trying to win back his wife, it also follows the love lives of his family and friends. His son Robbie (Jonah Bobo) is in love with Jessica (Analeigh Tipton), his babysitter, while she is in love with Cal. Shortly after his separation, Cal meets playboy Jacob Palmer (Ryan Gosling) who has no interest in falling in love and instead tries to take home every pretty girl he meets including law student Hannah (Emma Stone). Meanwhile, Cal's wife Emily is struggling with her mid-life crisis while reluctantly dating her co-worker David Lindhagen (Kevin Bacon). All face more complicated, realistic situations that do not always lead to the perfect, happy ending but do reaffirm the fact that real love is worth fighting for.
The movie covers the passionate, optimistic throes of first love to the heartbreak at the end of a 25 year marriage, and though it is all shown through a comedic lens, we understand the pain Cal is feeling. When his boss, after hearing him crying in the bathroom, realizes it is just a divorce and not cancer, he heaves a sigh of relief and reassures the rest of the office but it is obvious that Cal would have rather had cancer. Today, divorces are so commonplace that they are often shrugged off by onlookers as inevitable but for Cal it is a betrayal by the person he loves and trusts most. In his clumsy attempts to recover from his heartbreak, he befriends Jacob who teaches him how to pick up women effortlessly without guilt, love, or any consideration for tomorrow. Jacob suffers from the opposite problem from Cal. He believes love is for suckers but is horribly unhappy. As a result he tries to buy happiness and has all the unnecessary products we see infomercials for. However, when he does find love with Hannah, the shameful womanizing conduct he has shown to Cal comes back to haunt him as Cal, Hannah's father, refuses to accept him. Of course, Cal by this point is far from blameless as he has slept with several woman in an attempt to get over Emily but has just wound up hurting both of them more and widening the gap between them.
Emily, the cause of the divorce, feels guilty about it and even shows signs of wanting to repair the marriage but is disillusioned by Cal's behavior which includes using and lying to a woman he picks up at a bar (Marisa Tomei) who turns out to be Robbie's teacher. She is a casualty of love and it has obviously not been the first time as she is very bitter. She is one of the unhappy endings along with David Lindhagen both of whom suffered as a result of the Weavers' poor choices, something not often shown in romantic comedies. Neither of them are bad people. They are not smarmy, superficial, or self-serving. They are simply looking for love in the wrong places and wind up discovering they never found it in the first place.
The stories of Jessica and Robbie are less bittersweet. They may not get who they wanted in the end but for them it is the first of many romances. Each of them is pursuing the unattainable and because of their age and inexperience, they believe it is true love that will last a lifetime but that innocence is hopeful. It is this attitude that reassures us that Cal and Emily will survive, that Jacob can become a better person, and that real love does exist. If that kind of blind, headstrong, earnest love is possible, then there is a chance for even the most jaded like Jacob, and the most worn-out, like the Weavers.