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'Crazy, Stupid, Love.': Best Romantic Comedy Ever Made (Recently)

Steve Carell’s rubber face and Ryan Gosling’s abs — need we say more?

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Crazy, Stupid, Love doesn’t have an advertising tagline yet, so let’s see if we can dream one up ourselves — you know, something cool like ”In space, no one can hear you scream” (Alien) or ”Earth. It was fun while it lasted” (Armageddon). You’ll need to know that the movie stars Steve Carell as a man whose marriage to Julianne Moore implodes, pushing him shivering and naked (metaphorically speaking) into the world of dating; that he attempts to become a lothario under the tutelage of Ryan Gosling; and that he instead becomes the lonely center around which a funny and touching constellation of love stories revolves. Film critics won’t weigh in until July 29, but many of us EW staffers already feel evangelical about the movie. Frankly, my first thought for a Crazy, Stupid, Love tagline was this: ”It’s better than everything else. No, shut up, it is.”

But that’s too hostile, maybe? John Requa, who codirected the movie with Glenn Ficarra, says he suggested the following to Warner Bros: ”No capes. No robots.” But they should celebrate what the movie is, not what it isn’t. Producer Denise Di Novi raves about the script by Dan Fogelman, and when I tell her it reminds me of Jerry Maguire and About a Boy, she says, ”Those were the two movies that were our touchstones!” (She’s lying to be nice, right? ”No, I swear to God!”) Later, Di Novi elaborates, ”It’s kind of Richard Curtis and Jim Brooks smooshed together with Cameron Crowe.” Which is absolutely true, though too weird for an ad.

The ads could just praise the acting, of course. In an unexpected turnabout, Carell (also a producer) nails the heartachy drama, and Gosling the sly comedy. And yes, Gosling’s abs are arresting, as you no doubt have noticed from the trailer. Emma Stone says her astounded reaction to them in the movie was genuine: ”Absolutely. Nobody has seen the likes of that!” (Another possible tagline: ”The movie where Gosling takes off his shirt. Twice.”) As for Stone’s own performance, there’s a reason that the moment she left the audition room Gosling turned to the filmmakers and intoned, ”We have to have her.” As Di Novi puts it, ”Emma is so funny and so smart. And she’s 22 years old! I would sit next to her on the set and go, ‘You are a freak! You’re 22 years old!”’

Watching the chemistry on screen — particularly in a hilarious, largely improvised bedroom sequence between Gosling and Stone — you get the sense that even the actors are surprised by the variety of sparks flying. Asked if he minds that the cast ad-libbed all over his script, Fogelman says, ”I love it. And when the movie comes out, I will take full credit for it.”

They all should. CSL is a keeper, and it says something true and complicated about love. This won’t make for a great ad, but here goes: The thing that hurts you the most is the only thing that’ll heal you.