Though technically a romantic comedy, Crazy, Stupid, Love, offers an authentic and approachable picture of the earliest moments of separation and divorce. Cal Weaver (Steve Carell) is a 40-something committed husband and father of two whose wife Emily (Julianne Moore) tells him she wants a divorce over dinner on a “date night.” Ouch!
Emily breaks the news within the first 5 minutes of the film, and within the first 15 minutes also shares with Cal that she has slept with a colleague from work. Thus begins the spiral that so often ensues for people like Cal who are suddenly and shockingly left by their long-term marital partner.
Cal and Emily are a typical couple who met young, had the kids, the house, and the cars – only to lose sight of their relationship and what it takes to sustain a long-term marriage. Over the course of the movie we follow Cal through the heartbreak and confusion of separation as he struggles to figure out how this could have happened. Like so many married couples do, Cal has completely let himself go without even realizing it happened. And just when you start feeling like Cal is going to stay stuck in the past, in steps Jacob Palmer (Ryan Gosling), a charismatic womanizer who decides to take Cal under his wing, and to help him re-discover himself and his manhood…”If they can find where he left it.”
It may seem superficial, but just by cutting his hair, buying some new clothes, and changing his story, Cal transforms from sad, dweeby husband to engaged, charming single guy. What Jacob offers Cal is much more than a makeover. He forces Cal to drop his divorce story, to change his self-perception, and to face the reality of his situation. While Jacob’s plan goes a little haywire with Cal sleeping with multiple women to try and move on from Emily, what he does offer Cal is some helpful steps for getting his life back on track. Jacob prevents Cal from becoming paralyzed by the devastation of divorce, and helps him to “get moving” again.
Sometimes the most important thing to do when facing the early aftermath of being left is to focus on becoming the best possible version of oneself. This may be the person that existed earlier in the marriage or someone completely different. Re-gaining self-confidence, self-esteem, and dropping the divorce story are great places to start the journey toward healing.
Crazy, Stupid, Love doesn’t focus on the final outcome and whether Emily and Cal reconcile. Instead, the film is based on Cal’s journey and what he learns about himself and the world at large from his experience. The movie offers a great message for anyone facing the challenges of separation and divorce, and it hopefully represents a new trend where divorce is represented as an opportunity instead of a death sentence.