CHICAGO – Mention the name Harry Lennix, and images of his many character roles are bound to emerge – Harold Cooper in the TV series “The Blacklist,” General Swanwick from “Batman v Superman” and Commissioner Blades from Spike Lee’s recent “Chi-Raq.” The deeply knowledgeable Lennix brings his years of dramatic expertise, as he directs the Congo Square Theatre Company’s world premiere stage play “A Small Oak Tree Runs Red.’
Blu-ray Review: Fantastic Ensemble Delivers ‘Crazy, Stupid, Love’
CHICAGO – Glenn Ficarra & John Requa do strong directorial work yet and the script by Dan Fogelman is strong but “Crazy, Stupid, Love” works primarily due to the sheer, incredible talent of its amazing cast. With a stellar mix of Oscar-nominated veterans, two of the most engaging actors of their generation, and even a few talented newcomers, this is easily one of the best ensembles of the year. They were attracted by a film that treats love like the silly, goofy, wacky, crazy, stupid thing it needs to be. Sure, it’s broad and a bit cliched, but so is its subject matter.
Blu-Ray Rating: 4.0/5.0
The ensemble is led by Steve Carell, giving his best performance since “The 40-Year-Old Virgin,” as Cal Weaver. The film opens with his wife Emily (the radiant Julianne Moore) asking for a divorce and eventually revealing that she’s been sleeping with a smarmy co-worker (Kevin Bacon) in an effort to replace the lost passion in her marriage and life.. Their son Robbie (Jonah Bobo) is passionately in love with his babysitter Jessica (Analeigh Tipton), who happens to be passionately in love with Cal. If it sounds a bit sitcomish, it undeniably is, but the cast sells it in such a believable way that one doesn’t mind the extra serving of cheese.
Perhaps the least believable element of “CSL” is the bar in which Cal spends most of his time after the divorce announcement — it’s not only always empty enough to get a seat but it’s populated by more stunning women than most modeling agency waiting rooms. While moping into his drink one night, Cal catches the attention of his polar opposite, the smooth-talking Jacob (Ryan Gosling). Playing a bit of Henry Higgins, Jacob challenges himself by trying to turn Cal into a ladies man. He gets him a new outfit, a new pick-up routine, and, eventually, a few new girlfriends (including a stellar small role for Marisa Tomei). Meanwhile, Hanna (Emma Stone) gets hit on by Jacob but dismisses him for her boring boyfriend (Josh Groban)…for now.
Crazy, Stupid, Love
Photo credit: Warner Bros. Pictures
Too many critics wrote off the sitcom elements of the script for “Crazy, Stupid, Love” and missed that this is, overall, a very quick, clever, and funny piece of work, weaving together references to everything from “McCloud” to “The Karate Kid” to “Dirty Dancing” and yet not feeling like it’s trying too hard to be hip. It’s rare to see a romantic comedy this light on its feet, one that doesn’t hit the same predictable beats like a screenwriting program designed to spit out easily-digested chick flicks. There’s a weight to the drama that someone like Alexander Payne (“Sideways”) or Thomas McCarthy (“Win Win”) bring to their work that’s missing from this one and it could have been a true classic with a bit of that extra gravity, but Fogelman comes closer to his best comedy writing peers than nearly anyone gave him credit for when this played in theaters.
Crazy, Stupid, Love was released on Blu-ray and DVD on November 1st, 2011
Photo credit: Warner Bros. Pictures
Bacon, Tomei, Tipton, and Bobo are wonderful supporting players, but “Crazy, Stupid, Love” belongs to the leads. Carell adds emotional weight to a part that could have been pure schlub silliness. He never takes the downtrodden man beat too far, always keeping Cal essentially believable. As for Julianne Moore, she’s incredible yet again in such small but effective ways. Watch a key scene late in the film in which Emily calls Cal and we see her through a window. She takes what could have been such a standard scene and elevates into something touching and genuine.
And what can I say about Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling beyond the fact that they are, without question, two on the very short list of the best actors of their generation. There’s a scene between the two of them with such amazing chemistry and star power that it reminds one of that feeling you get watching early performances from future Oscar winners. It’s just THERE – that intangible element that elevates an actor above the standard rom-com archetype. It helps that Gosling proves that he has comic timing to match his immense dramatic skills and there are few actresses more inherently likable than Stone.
The WHOLE movie is likable in the way that most renters are looking for on date night and serious fans of anyone involved should do more than just rent — go ahead and buy into this crazy love.
o Steve And Ryan Walk Into A Bar
o The Player Meets His Match
o Deleted Scenes
o Digital Copy Of Feature Film