For a little under two hours, "Crazy, Stupid, Love," directed by Glenn Ficarra and John Requa, goes about exploring the complex terrain of divorce, inviting the audience to engage in the relatable, mysterious, complicated topic of love. The film, jam packed with appealing stars, is a combination of comic scenes and unanticipated deeply emotional moments that provide an unusually sensible approach to the complications of divorce.
Steve Carell plays Cal Weaver, a 40-something-year-old who has it all--three children, the job, and the high-school sweetheart wife--or so he thinks. His wife, Emily Weaver, played by Julianne Moore, simultaneously informs him that she has cheated on him and asks for a divorce.
Upon hearing this earth-shattering news, a wounded Cal immediately succumbs to Emily's request, and with a promise to willingly sign all the divorce papers, he moves in to his post-divorce apartment. Paralyzed by what's happening to their lives, the bridge of communication between Emily and Cal--although already quite damaged--completely collapses.
Robbie, Cal's son, advises his demoralized Dad to do something and not just turn in his cards without putting up a fight. Reminding him that communication is key, Robbie urges his father to fight for his soul mate.
Beyond the silver screen, patching up a relationship or a marriage can't be done by one person alone; working things through is a back and forth between two people. Not that it always works this way, but we must recognize that a relationship involves two individuals, and even if only one person made the mistake of infidelity, for example, in examining his or her motives we must take into consideration the other partner's complicity.
Although friends of Cal and Emily deliberately choose sides, this evenhanded film does not compel the audience to support one ex spouse or the other. This non-biased approach makes "Crazy, Stupid, Love" relatively sensible and reasonably smart.
The film forces the audience to digest all sides of this divorce; by following Cal, we learn his pain, and by following Emily, we learn hers. This is real food for thought for the one million U.S. couples per year in the throes of a divorce. In addition, it is also a great help for the roughly four to six million friends who will be called upon to step up to support the divorcees at one time or another.
As a friend, most people understand their responsibilities when someone close to them goes through a divorce; listen, lend support, and when the time is right, help your friend pick up the pieces and move on. Unfortunately, in an attempt to make sense of a convoluted, heartbreaking divorce, most people are all too eager to join in the blame game. Even third parties who have a seemingly healthy distance from the divorce, such as a friend or relative, can be pulled into this vortex. They feel both internal and external pressure to go beyond offering a sympathetic ear or an invitation for an evening out on the town.
When emotions run high it's extremely tough to maintain even the barest semblance of neutrality; it's just too tempting to take sides. But often times giving into that tug will just add fuel to the fire, increasing a divorcing friend's sense of victimization and frustration--thus helping no one. Your support can be comforting, but it can also prevent a hurt friend from arriving at the type of realization Cal does about the breakup of his marriage.
Throughout the course of the movie, we see Cal coming to terms with his own role during the relationship and in the demise of the marriage. Although Emily deliberately broke her vow when she cheated on him, Cal realizes that he let her down as well, by becoming overly comfortable, emotionally distant, and just too passive. For Emily, the marriage was no longer working because something fundamental in the relationship had changed. For Cal, coming to terms with the part he played in this divorce actually helped him move forward as a stronger person, and redefine himself as a husband, father, and man.
In real life, divorce often forces spouses, children and friends to painfully take sides; but for two diverting hours "Crazy, Stupid, Love" gives us license to experience objectivity, open-mindedness, and compassion for both sides--feelings we can hope to recreate in our own lives.