Crazy, Stupid, Love.
a spoiler-rich list of reasons not to like this movie I liked


In my regular movies posting, I'll have my single paragraph about how much I liked this movie. But now that twelve hours have passed, I've started to be irritated by more things. Which is a shame because so much of this movie is so excellent. For instance, the dialogue between Steve Carell and Julianne Moore does a fantastic job of showing their long and loving history even at their lowest moments. That's pretty exquisite stuff. And did you see how the filmmakers set an entire character up just by the way she placed her thumb on a photograph? Or how they set up the big surprise honestly yet without ever tipping their hand? These are the elements that suggest you're in the hands of great filmmakers.

Which is why, I suppose, the film's failings are bothering me as much as they do.

But it might also be the nature of this particular failing.

But before we go further, perhaps you want to watch it? (Netflix)(Amazon)(iTunes)(WB)

Pretty great movie, right?

So let's talk about the reason it's not great. Which is that the filmmakers have an almost toddler-like solipsism. Characters without names aren't real---and some characters with names are only real when they're being addressed.

Let's take an obvious example.

Remember the scenes at the restaurant when Emma Stone (correction: Hannah---I'm switching over to character names now that you've seen the movie) is with the other lawyers or protolawyers or whatever they are? First, we don't know what they are. In the fist scene I assumed they were all law students as I assumed Hannah was. Ends up Richard at least is a lawyer---and maybe all those besuited nonpersonalities were. Doesn't matter. The filmmakers don't care who they are so why should we?

They're not even true human beings. Consider that they can't hear any conversation between Hannah and Liz even though Hannah is the focus of attention. They can't hear a conversation between Hannah and Richard even though that conversations is the focus of their attention. These aren't human beings. They have no interior life. They are convenient bodies taking up space so the frame looks populated. That's it.

The same issue occurs is the movie's Big Moment (the only thing I complained about in my original, yet-to-be-posted review), the eighth-grade graduation. Never mind that this is obviously not enough eighth-graders for how big the school has been shown to be in previous scenes, consider the fact that everyone is politely silent clear through the entire awkward mess. What? What? No nervous twitters? No shuffling of feet? No nothing? Just people sitting absolutely still and, when their faces are shown (rarely), smiling. NO ONE would be smiling. Certainly not in that polite way. And you know who disappears once Cal shows up? Ms Taffety. That's who. As soon as Cal starts Inspiring Everyone, she disappears. Conveeeenient.

Again when Cal and Emily are at the parent-teacher conference. How in the world are these things structured that they get to be alone in an empty hallway? Apparently the only other person in the building is Ms Taffety, sitting alone in her room for no known reason. Convenient for the storytellers, but also reveals contempt for everyone other than the currently necessary characters.

And this is the one failing of Crazy, Stupid, Love.: These exquisitely drawn characters live in a world without other human beings. Take David Lindhagen. Barely sometimes human. Take the bar. How are we supposed to believe that both Cal and Jacob are there every night yet never run into the same woman twice? The only woman ever upset by the casual lays is the one who upset is plottily convenient. The world only exists where the camera is. Only the camera exists, the camera and what the camera sees.

The solipsism of the camera.

The real question I suppose is whether this single (but soaked-in) sin is enough to keep me from enjoying the movie a second, third, fourth, fifth time.

Answer: I don't know.

But I'm sure I'll watch it at least a second time. Maybe I'll let you know.

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