Katie Recommends: Crazy, Stupid, Love.

I didn’t think much of this movie when I first heard of it, but it got very good reviews and word-of-mouth, so I made a mental note to check it out. By the time I finally did, it had been in the theaters for awhile, and I’d kind of forgotten why I wanted to see it. So I was pleasantly surprised when it turned out to be one of the most enjoyable comedies I’d seen in awhile.

Here’s the thing: I absolutely love good romantic comedies. “Good” is the key word. They have to be both genuinely romantic and genuinely funny to be good, but sadly, Hollywood has long since forgotten how to make good rom-coms. But Crazy, Stupid, Love. (what’s with the weird punctuation, by the way?) is not only genuinely romantic and genuinely funny, but unpredictable. An unpredictable romantic comedy is rarer than an imperfection on Ryan Gosling’s body (which, by the way, is on display in its full glory in this movie), but this movie actually is. Part of the reason why is that it’s an ensemble movie—there are several storylines going on simultaneously. In the opening scene, Emily (Julianne Moore) drops a bomb on Cal (Steve Carell) in a restaurant: she’s been cheating on him with a colleague and wants a divorce. Depressed, Cal takes to moping about his life in a bar that Jacob (Gosling), a smooth young womanizer, frequents. Jacob decides to become Cal’s wingman and takes it upon himself to mold Cal into his own image. We had previously seen Jacob trying to pick up Hannah (Emma Stone), a pragmatic recent law school graduate, in the same bar, but she resisted his advances. That’s not the last we see of the two of them together, though. Meanwhile, Cal and Emily’s seventeen-year-old babysitter, Jessica (Analeigh Tipton) has a crush on Cal, while their thirteen-year-old son Robbie (Jonah Bobo) pines for Jessica.

Unpredictable? Suprisingly so. A friend had mentioned to me that there was a big twist she didn’t see coming—for me, there were two. Combine that with believable characters, lots of laugh-out-loud moments, and some moments that are genuinely touching, and you’ve got yourself one very good movie. It won’t win any Oscars or anything, but it definitely gives me hope that Hollywood might have some more good rom-coms up its sleeves.

Other movies I’ve seen lately:


There’s an interesting story behind this movie. Director Kenneth Lonergan, whose previous movie was 2000’s You Can Count on Me, shot this movie, which stars Anna Paquin, Mark Ruffalo, and Matt Damon, among others, back in 2005. Then he and the studio spent years fighting over the movie’s final cut. There were lawsuits involved and it was a whole big mess. While they were waiting for the movie to come out, Anna Paquin went on to star on True Blood and win a Golden Globe, Mark Ruffalo went on to get an Oscar nomination for The Kids Are All Right, and Matt Damon kind of shrugged and said, “Eh, I’m still Matt Damon. Hey, why don’t I go get revenge on Jimmy Kimmel?” Unfortunately, when the movie finally did premiere, it got very little notice despite good reviews. In Boston, it was in the theater for about a week, and I only got to see it because the Brattle Theater showed it last weekend.

Anyway, Paquin plays Lisa, a high school student in New York wracked with guilt over her involvement in a fatal bus accident. As Lisa is running alongside a bus trying to get the driver’s (Ruffalo) attention, the bus runs a red light and kills a woman (Allison Janney) in the crosswalk. In a state of shock and grief, Lisa lies when the police ask her if the light was red or green, but as the enormity of the situation hits her, she does everything she can think of to try to make amends.

The title comes from this poem, which Lisa is studying in school. It’s definitely a downer, so don’t watch this movie if you’re in the mood for something light, and I can definitely see the signs of a fight over the final cut. There are some scenes the movie could definitely do without and others that seem to be missing an additional scene. But overall, it’s a great movie, and the acting, especially by Paquin, is excellent.

The Help

I had recently read the book, and the movie did not disappoint. It was very well-cast: Emma Stone as Skeeter, Viola Davis as Aibileen, Octavia Spencer as Minny, Bryce Dallas Howard as Hilly, Allison Janney as Skeeter’s mother. Some of those were surprising choices, but I think they all worked out well. And Jessica Chastain was a hilarious Celia Foote—she’s an actress I hope to see more of.

I’ve described my feelings on the book already, and the movie didn’t change much other than changing the sequence of some events. The one pretty big changed involved the reasons around Constantine’s firing—they cut the Lulubelle story, I’m guessing, because Lulubelle would have been hard to cast. One thing I loved about this movie, though, is how it’s completely about women and their friendships with each other. Ever since I learned about the Bechdel Test, I can’t help but put every movie I see through it (although there are plenty of good movies that don’t pass it—and some, like Crazy, Stupid, Love., don’t involve women talking about anything but a man but also don’t involve men talking about anything but women), but this one aces the test. There’s one very small romantic subplot, but it’s almost beside the point. People have focused on the role of racism in this movie, but I think it’s just as much about sexism.


What, you haven’t seen it yet? What the hell are you waiting for? Go rent it now! Seriously, though, this is one of the funniest movies I’ve ever seen. Kristen Wiig needs to be a leading lady more often. I LOVE that this was such a breakout movie for Melissa McCarthy, whom I have loved since her days as Sookie on Gilmore Girls. I love that it didn’t go for any of the wedding clichés—there’s no Hangover-esque bachelorette party and no obnoxious Bridezilla (in fact, the bride, played by Maya Rudolph, is the normal one). And I love that, despite being about an impending wedding, it’s not about romance as much as it is about women’s friendships. Like I said about The Help, it’s a topic that doesn’t get enough attention in the movies, and I hope the success of this movie means that we’ll see more movies focused on women.

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