By Chris Nashawaty
Updated November 01, 2011 at 04:00 AM EDT
Ben Glass

Crazy, Stupid, Love.

  • Movie

Ryan Gosling has come a long way since the days when he was busting dance moves with Britney and Justin on The All New Mickey Mouse Club. The 30-year-old Canadian has appeared in more than a dozen movies, including most recently Drive and The Ides of March. But aside from 2004’s three-hankie weepie The Notebook and the terrific, just-out-on-DVD Crazy, Stupid, Love (2011, PG-13, 1 hr., 58 mins.), box office love has been elusive. The good news is that there’s a bunch of smaller films for fans to discover at home, films that prove he can do more than pen swoony love letters and play the swizzle-stick Casanova to Steve Carell’s emotionally wounded wingman — which, by the way, made that movie the funniest, truest comedy of the year. His harrowing performance as a neo-Nazi in 2001’s The Believer is still one of the most memorable breakouts I’ve ever witnessed. But it’s hardly the only underappreciated entry on his résumé. Take 2006’s Half Nelson, which earned him an Oscar nod. As that film’s crack-addicted inner-city teacher, Gosling dazzles without screaming ”Look at me, I’m acting!” He’s a low-watt star in the best sense. He’s always natural and believable, even when he’s playing a misfit like the blow-up-doll-besotted Lars Lindstrom in 2007’s Lars and the Real Girl. His fearless turn in last year’s Blue Valentine, where he plays a slacker screwup in a marriage headed south, shows he also has the rare gift of melting into his characters. You buy them even if you don’t necessarily like them. That’s why he may be the most interesting actor of his generation. Or any generation, for that matter. Crazy, Stupid, Love: A

Crazy, Stupid, Love.

  • Movie
  • PG-13
  • 117 minutes
  • Glenn Ficarra
  • John Requa