If you haven’t seen the über popular dramedy Crazy, Stupid, Love., and you aren’t planning to, then I hope you reconsider your decision. And my hope is that some of my thoughts here might help your re-decision process.
Oddly, the movie’s beginning is an end, the end of a marriage. Cal and Emily Weaver—played with just the right mix of neuroticism and wit by Steve Carell and Julianne Moore—are getting a divorce. After shamelessly and publicly announcing that she wants the divorce, Emily initiates what ends up being a hard existential slap in the face for Cal. So much so, that he thinks that the best course of action is to literally remove himself from the situation by falling out of a moving car (He probably wished that it was the car of life, and the easiest way to cope was to just get out while he still could).
Thankfully, as the film unfolds, Cal does not completely self-destruct or self-implode, but becomes (or rather, re-becomes) the man that he was always meant to be. This outcome is great of course, but I think that the process by which Cal’s transformation plays out is the most gripping aspect of the movie.
Repeatedly noticing Cal’s lament routine at a local bar, a handsome swinger named Jacob takes pity on Cal and decides to coach him on how to recover his manhood. This odd premise of course serves as the film’s primary comedic device, but running underneath the jokes and the unlikely Cal-Jacob pairing is a timeless message: true friendship is one of the most potent forces in human experience. The friendship between Cal and Jacob is the vehicle for both characters’ radical character transformation. Both teach each other much, and both learn much from each other.
At the end of the film, through a surprising plot twist, Cal and Jacob’s friendship is tested and Cal has to decided whether he can really trust Jacob. Cal struggles with the two Jacob’s he’s seen and known: the promiscuous player who has slept with dozens of women, and the reformed ex-swinger who has committed himself to an exclusive relationship. Jacob, while awaiting Cal’s word and approval, realizes Cal’s renewed integrity and says to him, “Cal, you’re a great Dad.”
Keeping true with the idea of inverting beginnings and endings, the movie’s end is a new beginning: the start of a new kind of relationship for Jacob and the start of Cal and Emily repairing their marriage. Nothing is certain and it’s unclear whether everything will work out, but Cal and Jacob have experienced something extraordinary that they will never forget: crazy, stupid, transforming, love.