Forget the pointless haters: the best movie of the summer, going away, was Crazy, Stupid, Love., a winning and expertly made romantic dramedy that featured Steve Carell's best performance yet and a A-list turn by Ryan Gosling. Here's what I wrote about The Gos for Movieline in the staff summer wrap-up:
Under the term’s most basic definition, Ryan Gosling has been a “movie star” since Remember the Titans in 2000, but it wasn’t until Crazy, Stupid, Love. that he became a movie star. Oh sure, he displayed plausible Leonardo DiCaprio-lite leading man moves in his breakout turn in The Notebook, but until the wonderful James L. Brooks-y summer romcom (take a bow, Glenn Ficarra and John Requa), Gosling had seemed more interested in hiding himself behind indie beards, sex dolls and receding hairlines, than embracing his star bona fides. That’s officially over: with Crazy, Stupid, Love. already released and Drive and The Ides of March in theaters this fall, Hollywood Gosling has arrived. Handsome, charming, mischievous, charming and handsome (what?), Gosling is the burgeoning A-lister that everyone thought Ryan Reynolds would become this summer. In Crazy, Stupid, Love., he’s the player with a heart of gold who helps Steve Carell overcome the break-up of his marriage. In essence, he’s a playing a big screen version of Barney Stinson from How I Met Your Mother — a character prone to broad strokes and fine suits. Gosling, however, keeps everything tight and believable (also tight: his abs), investing the slick Jacob with not just the wounded heart we’ve come to expect from this type of cad, but also bursting hope. That’s ironic since Gosling is the best hope Hollywood has to head the next generation of leading men in the post-DiCaprio/Smith/Depp/Cruise era. He’s a real hero, a real human being and — most important — a honest-to-goodness star.As for the film: it's wildly funny and broad to the point of screwball, but totally human. The huge beating heart of its screenplay (kudos to Dan Fogelman) helps in that regard, but so too does the chemistry between the cast. Gosling and Emma Stone are an even better match than Gosling and Rachel McAdams (these two crazy kids need to procreate). Carell and Julianne Moore take what are their well-worn stocks (sad clown and shrill wife) and bring layers upon layers to the screen; it feels like these two have been married for years. Even Analeigh Tipton — a former contestant on America's Next Top Model — shines as high schooler, despite being only three days younger than Stone.
Does Crazy, Stupid, Love. conclude with a totally ridiculous set piece? It does. Does it push saccarin sweetness to the point of extreme? Yes. Will any movie this year make you feel happier? No chance. In a summer of friends with benefits and mediocre superheroes, Crazy, Stupid, Love. stood as an example of what great mainstream moviemaking looks like. To paraphrase the film: be better than the crap.
Other summer favorites:
· Super 8 wasn't perfect, but it was still a fantastic reproduction of vintage Steven Spielberg; also, Michael Giacchino's score is a must-buy for anyone who likes movie scores.
· A fitting cap to the series, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 was the best of the big budget lot. Don't sleep on Transformers: Dark of the Moon, though, when it comes to pure spectacle.
· Bridesmaids was hilarious, but 30 minutes too long; Horrible Bosses, despite a gross over $100 million, was hilarious and criminally underrated. Here's hoping that one finds a long, long life on home video. Charlie Day and Jason Sudeikis are your new comedy gods.
· Neither Midnight in Paris nor Tree of Life were as good as their likely Oscar nominations will lead you to believe, but both are worthy of praise and eyeballs. Paris wasn't the best late-era Woody Allen movie (apparently people forgot Vicky Cristina Barcelona came out), and Life featured Terrence Malick masturbating out the creation of Earth for 45 minutes, but their ultimate power can't be denied.