I’m going to rename this Crazy, Stupid, Advertising because pitching a preview screening as a “Girls Night In” event—offering free drinks upon arrival and giving you a goodie bag at the end filled with such gender-neutral awesomeness as Libra pads—was a huge mistake. Even the title is pretty ridiculous, because make no mistake: this flick is about the guys, namely middle-aged schlub Cal (Steve Carrell), who’s just been asked for a divorce by his bored wife Emily (Julianne Moore), and serial smoocher Jacob (Ryan Gosling), who picks up more women than he picks up peanuts at the bar both men now frequent. When Jacob sees Cal muttering to himself in (gasp, apparently) New Balance trainers, he takes it upon himself to give Cal a makeover and turn his life around. But does Cal want to shag attractive women like Kate (Marisa Tomei, slightly batshit as per usual), or does he want his old life back? Is Jacob really happy in his life as a man bedding attractive women on a regular basis? Will it take the movie’s other sassy redhead, Hannah (Emma Stone), to make him see the horror that is his life as a rich man who is also charming and accompanied by a sensual bass track and a camera that wants to have sex with him every time he’s on screen?
Crazy, Stupid, Advertising is actually a pretty fun movie; there are a lot of laughs, and some really touching moments too. The set pieces make this film what it is: the gentle, sexy humour of Jacob and Hannah’s first “date”; the flat-out hilarious slapstick scene when all our characters finally meet; a quietly poignant moment when Cal, secretly weeding his family’s backyard at night, sees Emily fake a phone call to him just to talk. Add to that the glorious cast, all who ping off each other wonderfully, and who include Hannah’s equally-sassy best friend Liz (Liza Lapera); Cal’s rival for Emily’s affections, David Lindhagen (Kevin Bacon) Cal and Emily’s lovelorn teenage son Robbie (Jonah Bobo), who can’t hide his adoration for his gangly babysitter Jess (Analeigh Tipton), while she is nurturing love for Cal himself. It’s basically an ingredient list for a recipe that can’t go wrong, like toasted cheese sandwiches. Comforting, funny, and a good night spent at the flicks, it doesn’t have the perfect Hollywood cookie-cutter ending but definitely won’t leave you wanting to impale yourself with a Coke straw.
It’s debatable due to forgetfulness whether it passes the Bechdel Test (Chris claims there was a tickle fight between Jess and Robbie’s younger sister Molly where they didn’t talk about boys, and also an initial scene between Hannah and Liz which possibly began discussing jobs before it derailed into boy-talk, but I don’t remember for sure—and even so, that’s pitiful if I have to dredge memories to clarify) and there is a scene that tries to be cute in the movie’s graudation finale that would be actually a bit halp-call-the-police if the genders were reversed; also, women just seem like objects waiting for Ryan Gosling to hit on them (which, let’s face it, is mostly true) and then vanish from the movie, never to get emotionally involved again. Also, what does Jacob do for a living? Why did Cal and Emily even break up if they’re going to spend the rest of the movie staring wistfully after each other? (It’s the movies, haven’t these people heard of therapy?) But hey, dramedies are rarely perfect and if you feel like love is possible at the end they’ve pretty much done their job, and I’m still happy to give Crazy, Stupid, Advertising the following rating: three and a half out of five pairs of jeans not bought at The Gap. (Chris, surprising everyone, gave it five out of five putts at a mini golf course.)