I absolutely loved this movie. The structure of the plot is definitely similar to other romantic comedies, but the narrative itself is so smartly written, and the actors play their parts so incredibly well that it's impossible not to love this film. Steve Carell, one of my all time favorite comedic actors, alongside Ryan Gosling, one of my all time favorite actors, period, are too fun and funny to watch together. Emily (played by Julianne Moore) decides to separate from her husband, Cal (Carell), after being unhappy for many years. Cal treks to a bar where he drunkenly lets everyone know about his problems. He is noticed by the lady connoisseur, Jacob Palmer (played by Ryan Gosling). Jacob decides to help Cal with his problems by spiffing up his clothes and confidence. There are other plot-lines involving Cal's son and a girl that Jacob takes a particular liking to (played by Emma Stone), but I'm not going to give anything away about them. About 90 minutes in, there is what I can only describe as one of the biggest "WTF" moments of my movie-watching career. Crazy, Stupid, Love is an extremely well-done romantic comedy filled with hilarious moments, great performances, and an extremely satisfying script.
This is the best romance film I've seen in a long time. The script is oftentimes brutally down-to-earth and honest, yet leaves you with a strong sense of hope. I also think it's impossible to walk away from this movie in a bad mood. Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays Tom, a man looking for love. He meets Summer (played by Zooey Deschanel) who likes him, but specifically says she's not looking for a relationship. As expected, Tom falls for her and things get a little ugly. This isn't a spoiler, as the film is formatted in such a way that you specifically know things end up falling apart eventually between the two. I loved the film's style: from homages to old black-and-white films to useful and effective narration to fresh and intuitive editing. The ending is also the best ending I've seen in a VERY long time, and leaves you floating in the idea that nothing is a coincidence, and if it was "meant to be", you'd know it instantly.
I've always been interested in New Jersey's notorious serial killer Richard Kuklinski (known as The Iceman). He was a killer for the mafia who practiced brutal methods of murder on his over 200 victims (the film claims over 100, but it was estimated that he killed over 200). One of those methods was tying up men in caves and allowing rats to eat him alive while he videotaped it. He was known for using cyanide and knives on most of his victims, yet in the film, he is shown using mostly guns (Kuklinski stated in one of his interviews that he didn't like to use guns). The film also did not show how the cops figured out Kuklinski was freezing the bodies (one of the frozen bodies he left on the side of the road was not thawed out long enough). I felt like the film was only half as brutal as he actually was, as a murderer. Michael Shannon did a fantastic job of portraying him; while he may not look like him in his younger days, he looks very similar to him in his later interviews and in voice as well. I wouldn't be surprised if Shannon was nominated for an Oscar for his role. Winona Ryder is also great as his wife, and Chris Evans is great as his partner Robert Pronge. It seems like Ray Liotta is the default mafia leader at this point in his career, and it was actually a little distracting that he played out that stereotype the exact same way, yet again. I also felt very little for any of the characters, which was a little disappointing. At 105 minutes, I think the film should have been longer as well; there were too many big aspects of Kuklinski's life that weren't covered including his childhood, his introduction to killing, and the various methods of homicide he practiced. On the good side, the ending was powerful, there was an amazing scene where Kuklinski and Pronge murder a guy in the middle of a dance floor, and of course Michael Shannon himself. Overall, I felt like a lot more could have been done on the writing side, but Shannon was just enough to save the film from completely collapsing.