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Crazy, Stupid, Cliché.

November 30, 2011

I rented this movie expecting something a little out of the ordinary; I don’t know, maybe a read a review that gave me that idea. Plus it’s got studly It-boy Ryan Gosling in it, which tempts one to assume that the  film is going to be edgy, indie or intelligent. (He’s been so great lately, not least in Blue Valentine and the poorly rated All Good Things.) But no, Crazy, Stupid, Love – despite a plethora of good reviews – remains a pleasant yet an overlong series of clichés and wish-fulfillment. Don’t get me wrong: I’m as open to a clichéd plot as the next rom-com enthusiast, but I get the impression that because of the above-average cast (Emma Stone, Julianne Moore and Steve Carell), and the fact that the movie is a man’s take on divorce and dating, that it was taken rather more seriously than the usual romantic dramedy when it doesn’t really warrant it.

I have a grudge against Knocked Up for a similar reason. I got conned into watching it expecting something unusual; also marketed as a unique and ballsy (har har) ‘guy’s take’ on the chick flick. But its a dorky guy’s fantasy really. As others have said before me. (I wouldn’t give it a B+ though). Just like in some senses Crazy, Stupid, Love is the fantasy of an ageing football dad. It’s like a mid-life crisis film where Knocked Upwas a late 20-something ageing stoner film.

With that hair? You must be dreaming!

So, yes, on most levels this is very much a guy-fantasy film, which is fine. I prefer to think of Carrell and the film as counterparts, or counterpunches, to Gosling’s in the excellent yet depressingly realistic Blue Valentine.

What really irritates me is how the so-called ‘chick flick’  is denigrated by reviewers and the public, boyfriends, husbands, clever women etc. Matters arent helped by sticking Reese Witherspoon or Jennifer Aniston or Kate Hudson or Anne Hathway or Katherine Heigl or Natalie Portman in them. What a procession of Meh. It’s like the primary qualification for a woman being cast in a romantic drama or comedy is to be as lame and middle-of-the-road as possible. Not a threatening bone in their bodies; girl’s next door each and every one of them (in the temporary guise of career woman or, more often, florist, the baker, the artist or the horticulturalist). Critics and the ever-discerning public pick on Twilight for its ridiculous morals and punishment for sexuality (demon pregnancy). But the chick flick or ‘dick flick’ is even more insiduously damaging in its own way. Even the most risqué hook-up leads to commitment; never abortion. People with zero sympathy or chemistry are inexplicably drawn to each other! And no-one ever stays divorced. Exes get it together after finding out just what they are missing (The Bounty; this film). Don’t worry, I found Blue Valentine as bleak and unsettling as the rest of its viewers did, and romantic comedies are, after all, meant to be romantic i.e. fantastical. But its when they pretend or aspire to be gritty, grimy, sexy (Hey! No strings attached!; Friends with Benefits!) quirky or realistic (hey! The guy’s view!) that they get to me.

Let’s count the ways. *SPOILERS* The sweet married guy gets cheated on – cuckolded – for what seems like absolutely no reason at all. (He’s perfect, people!) His 17-year-old babysitter falls in love with him. His children adore him. His wife still loves him and soon discards her fling (a sexy-slouchy Kevin Bacon as the marriage-wrecker? Talk about typecasting. he practically screams molester/rapist). Our hero smartens up (like all Hollywood films, buying trendy clothes makes nerdy teenage girls and old farts somehow fuckable) and scores 8 women in bars who want to sleep with him after a ‘sexy’ (creepy) player in a bar takes pity on him and decides to teach him how to score hot women. Yeah right.

The Love Machine.

No-one would go near this weird and dreary guy in a trendy singles bar. It’s all part of this mystical ‘bro’ fantasyland mytho-crap. Where bros are friends through thick and thin; bros watch out for each other; yadda yadda. All the younger women in this film are either hot, easily-impressed suckers for a fine suit (read: money) and a good-time with a six-pack and a Dirty Dancing soundtrack (now if liking Dirty Dancing isn’t the worst, easiest chick-flick cliché then I don’t know what is), or, the Good Girl who isn’t good at free sex, who isn’t slutty or coarse (like poor Marisa Tomei who is slutty and coarse And an ex-drunk) and who, naturally, turns -yes converts – the Gosling stud away from all the hundreds of women he’s inexplicably drawing with sleazy one-liners to nurturing domesticity and monogamy.

Nice girls laugh and cuddle. Bad girls have one night stands.

Now if this isn’t the biggest fantasy of all I Really don’t know. I’m not saying such a conversion is impossible, just really, really unlikely. And it underlines the same-old, same-old conservative ethic running through the movie; the same ethic that underscored Knocked Up – that commitment happens when good girls make a good man out of skanky womanisers. i.e. The One. Soulmates. Because people can Change for Love when they meet their soul mate. What a load of horse-shit.

And while I’m moaning, can I just end by saying that if I see one more film where the hero/his kid stands up and speaks his heart on a public platform, like graduation, and everyone goes Awww, then I will just die. I will. I’ve been a teenager. I know teenagers. I/the guy’s kid would collapse with embarrassment. It’s another fantasy Hollywwod has: that all these cool, unique kids and cool, unique parents are out there being quirky and edgy and Real. All together now: AWWWWWWWWWW.

(PS: The strangely hot Ryan Gosling is capable of amazing transformations. This film almost makes one forget what he looked like in the fantastically creepy All Good Things and Blue Valentine.)

Yup. Ex-husband material.

One Comment
  1. hamzabook permalink

    Reblogged this on hamzabook.

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