Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Day 221: Crazy, Stupid, Love (2011)

PG-13, 1 hr. 57 min.  Directed by: Glenn Ficarra, John Requa.  Release Date: July 29, 2011.

I'm going to talk only briefly about this movie in detail, because it inspired me to do something a little different.  Crazy, Stupid, Love wasn't what I expected.  I was expecting a somewhat more sophisticated version of a romantic comedy, which is fine by me.  I sort of got that.  It was a comedy, kind of.  It was funny, but it felt like there was a moral to be learned by the story.  It probably wasn't the obvious, which was "hold on to those you love and fail to let a douchebag lead you to the dark side," but I'm not really going to be pensive in the middle of a movie because I tend to miss stuff that way.

The cast is outstanding, particularly the adult leads, which consist of Emma Stone, Julianne Moore, Ryan Gosling and Steve Carell.  I actually think that with the exception of John Carroll Lynch, whom I now will forever equate with his role in Zodiac, this entire cast was well put together.  Either way, it's an interesting mix among the leads, because two of these guys (Moore and Ryan) are known for their dramatic roles - almost to the point of exclusivity, and two (Stone and Corell) are known best for their comedic roles, making this clearly an attempt at dramedy.  For Moore, this is almost a repeat of her role in The Kids Are All Right, with the major distinction being that her character is heterosexual in this film.  Corell has played variants on this "broken man" theme before, notably 40 Year Old Virgin.  Stone and Gosling were both quite a bit out of their elements and they stole the show for me.  

I also dig the story, but I won't go in to details because I'm not sure I could manage it without dropping spoiler landmines into the body of this post, and we know I hate doing that.  I will also say that the ending COMPLETELY took me by surprise.  As M. Night might say, "what a tweest," although admittedly this was a bit of a roller coaster ride, and if I hadn't been looking at what I perceived to be the minds of my trinity (as explained below), I might have been WAY more annoyed at that little fact than I was.

What really surprised me was how much I empathized with each of the three primary males:  Carell, Gosling, and the young man playing Corell's son in the film.  The boy was easy: unrequited love.  We've all been there before, pining away for someone who, for whatever reason, will never be yours.  Unlike him, I never fought for what I wanted, I merely let it slip through my fingertips, even when it was clear that with some effort I might have had what I sought.  Gosling reminds me of me a few years ago, working desperately to fill an empty spot in his life with things and sex.  For me, alcohol was always the filler of choice, although sex and things were options if alcohol was otherwise unobtainable.  Like Gosling's character, I'll do anything to simulate happiness, even for a minute.  Neither works well, but apparently I need to find my own personal Emma Stone to make things work out.  Corell is me as I am today:  beaten (figuratively) and drained.  Barely able to figure out what happened to put his life in its current state.  I know that feeling well.

I've been... inspired.  When I wrote about Prozac Nation, I mentioned my struggle with dysthymia, a low-grade, but long-lasting form of depression.  In my case, the low period has lasted the better part of a decade, if you include the years I was taking "mood elevators" (ie: crazy pills).   I've been giving in because it's easy.  I'm not going to do that anymore.  No more struggle to get out of bed.  No more self-pity and no more self-doubt.  That shit is way played out, and I'm sorry for those folks who have watched me suck the life out of the last ten years as I've brought my own life to ruins around my ears. 

It's not like me to be so... moved or introspective in a film that doesn't involve death, or some sort of tragedy.  It's not very often I even HAVE an emotional reaction to a film other than a snicker, which I'm told is distinctive in a crowd.  But here, I felt as if I was a fly (an occasionally embarrassed fly) on the wall, peeping in to the drama and laughter of the lives of about a dozen people.  This won't be to everyone's tastes, and under different circumstances, it might not have been mine.  I hadn't intended on seeing this today.  Originally, I was going to see The Change-Up, but then I missed the last show I could make and waffled between this and Friends With Benefits, leaning toward the latter since I harassed fellow LAMBs Duke and John about the film earlier this week.  I flipped a coin and now I'm very glad things worked out as they did.

In 30 days, The Great Movie Project will be hosting its first-ever Blog-A-Thon.  I've participated in a few in the last few months, and I'm guessing that online presence has helped explain the recent upsurge in traffic to my site, which has close to doubled (thanks guys!), and I thought it was time to host my own.

How can you participate?  I'm looking for a list of seven movies that will represent each one of the seven continents and a short blurb about why you selected it.  So, you could choose Monsoon Wedding to represent Asia because you really enjoyed trying to hash your way through the street patois of English and Hindi.  The movies selected can be in any genre, theme, or language, but you must have a list that represents all seven continents:  Africa, Antarctica, Asia, Australia, Europe, North and South America.  Antarctica will be relatively rough, so enjoy that one!

I'll take early submissions, but I won't start posting links to my site until the start of the event, September 9.  Because this is my first one of these, I don't have really any rules in mind.  Check it out, do the research (if you're like me you'll struggle with Antarctica and South America), and have some fun.  Feel free to get in touch through this site or by email at greatmovieproject@gmail.com.