Making the Grades
Love, sex and Hollywood ideology all intertwine in Crazy, Stupid, Love. Steve Carell plays Cal, the centerpiece character in this large cast of love lost souls. The forty-something man has just been dumped by his wife Emily (Julianne Moore) over dinner. Or at least he feels he has been dumped. Confessing she slept with a coworker (Kevin Bacon), Emily says she wants a divorce, but deep in her heart we know she really wants to find a way to rescue their stale marriage. Unfortunately Cal’s decision to jump out of their moving vehicle on the way home from the restaurant, instead of engaging in a mature conversation, isn’t the reaction she was hoping for.
Frequenting a local singles bar and maintaining a drunken state of grief, Cal’s vocalization of hate toward his wife’s fling finally attracts a response from a regular customer named Jacob (Ryan Gosling). A smooth talking womanizer who never leaves the establishment empty handed, the playboy sees the distraught middle-ager as the perfect fix-up project. Taking Cal under his tutelage, the pair goes shopping for a new wardrobe and after a few credit card swipes the monogamous man—who has only ever had sex with his wife—turns into a prowling player ready to pounce on any unsuspecting woman.
If you’ve seen any of the trailers for this film, you’ll know these two are both about to learn that true happiness can only come from a committed relationship. Yet this traditional viewpoint is delivered with a liberal coating likely to persuade its audience that a experience makes a male more manly (and hence more attractive), and playing the field is just part of determining if one has truly found his "soul mate"—a term used frequently in this script.
Making matters worse is a subplot involving Cal’s thirteen-year-old son (Jonah Bobo) and their seventeen-year-old babysitter (Analeigh Tipton). The boy’s sexual fantasizing for the young girl is made evident after she inadvertently finds him masturbating in his bedroom. The ongoing joke involving his lust toward her culminates in a closing scene when she hands him a collection of naked photos she has taken of herself.
Along with mixed morals, parents can expect a great deal of sexual innuendo and crude discussions. Various crass terms for sex are used along with a single sexual expletive, a rude finger gesture and a variety of other profanities. A couple of steamy bedroom encounters are also featured, although we see and hear very little sexual activity.
More male fantasy than chick flick, the overall impression this film leaves you with will probably depend on your gender. In the end it certainly depicts some crazy characters behaving in decidedly stupid ways, and hardly deals with the real nature of love.
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about Crazy, Stupid, Love..
How does Jacob objectify women? What argument does he use to get Cal to do the same? How likely is it that these two regular customers at the bar don’t run into someone who has already seen them in action, but instead have an ever-changing sea of beautiful and willing women to fish from night after night?
In what ways does this script create a male fantasy? What characters are in love with Cal? What few things does Cal need to change to become an irresistible chick magnet? How does he justify his adulterous actions? Why is his behavior more acceptable than that of his wife? And how about Jacob? Are high quality women really attracted to studs that just need taming?
The practice of kids taking and sharing naked pictures of his or herself is a serious issue, with serious consequences. Check here for a real life example of teens that used a cell phone for this purpose.
Unlike the parents depicted in this movie, take a moment to discuss this topic with your children.