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Carell and Gosling make Crazy, Stupid, Love sheer joy

Steve Carell and Ryan Gosling are the twin cherries on atop a near-perfect cast.

When nearly divorced Cal Weaver (Steve Carell) begins hanging around a trendy LA bar he meets Jacob (Ryan Gostling), a handsome slick talker who offers to tutor him in the art of being single. What starts out as a lounge lizard Pygmalion actually blossoms into a deeper friendship as Cal begins to see the world through different eyes and Jacob meets the girl of his dreams. Interwoven are two other love stories—the trials of Cal’s son (Jonah Bobo) who thinks his babysitter (Analeigh Tipton) is his soul mate and Hannah’s (Emma Stone) search for the right guy.

Richard: ****

Mark: ****

Richard: As good as Steve Carell is here I have a feeling the person everyone will be talking about on the way out of the theatre is Ryan Gostling. He reveals a gift for comedy, a magnificent abdominal area and the ability to take a stereotype and turn it into a living, breathing character. Agree or no?

Mark: Yes, this is a great leap forward for an actor who has played a variety of depressives, mumblers, and addicts. He looks great in a sharp cut jacket and crackles with charisma. Of course, he's got the fun role, but still, he adds something extra to the stock character of the lothario with a wounded heart. And by the way the female members of the audience swooned when he took off his shirt, Gosling has matured into one fine Canada Goose.

RC: It's true. Young Hercules seems like a long time ago now. If Gosling can erase his slightly embarrassing TV past away, then I think this is the movie that will go a long way to erase the image of Steve Carell as that guy from The Office. He was masterful on that show and has been good in other movies—particularly as the depressed Uncle Frank in Little Miss Sunshine – but here he absolutely nails the mix of comedy and pathos needed to make Crazy, Stupid, Love so memorable.

MB: Right, but I couldn't help notice your lack of praise for his recent film work, which I find tepid and dweeby. Here Carell can get his chops into a script that goes beyond his usual hangdog schlemiels and grow a pair. And it's a joy to watch. But Richard, let's not leave out the perfectly cast supporting roles. I loved both the babysitter and Carell's 13-year-old son. Any other standouts for you? Or can we give the directing team their kudos? I've rarely seen better direction in a rom/com.

RC: I agree all round. It's a cut above the usual rom com, reminding more of the Neil Simon relationship movies of the Seventies that were family dramas disguised as sex comedies. As for the supporting cast, I have to say I called it for Emma Stone when I first saw her in Superbad and predicted she will be a superstar any second now.

MB: By the way, I wasn't sure about the movie at first. The plot seemed to be too close to something Dane Cook might have done in his brief heyday, but then it ripened into a full-fledged, perfect farce with all the plot strands coming together perfectly. The ending's a bit sentimental, and I've always hated when characters express their feelings in a Big Speech, but these are tiny quibbles.

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