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Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Amnesia patient case history: “Crazy, Stupid, Love.”

Posted By on Wed, Aug 3, 2011 at 3:13 PM

(The patient is a recently released romantic comedy that arrived in our office exhibiting a strong willingness to do good, but suffering from a serious identity crisis. What follows is a transcript of our initial therapy session, in which we tried to guide the movie toward a deeper self-knowledge and cure it of its recurrent bouts of near-total amnesia. WARNING: This psychological report includes major SPOILERS.)


Why don’t you start by telling us a little bit about yourself.

Well, I guess I’m technically an ensemble romcom. But mostly, I’m about this nice middle-aged guy played by Steve Carell. His wife cheats on him and then dumps him, leaving him to half-heartedly start his dating life all over for the first time since he was in high school. He then meets this slick pick-up artist played by Ryan Gosling, who teaches him to score with women in bars. There’s an entire montage in which the viewer sees how successful the Gosling character is at doing this, going home time after time with a succession of hot young women with no apparent self-esteem. Tell me, doctor: Am I Wedding Crashers?

No, you’re not Wedding Crashers. You’re a generally wise and even-handed movie that knows all too well what silly things people of both genders do in the name of sex and love. It’s beneath you to ridicule the female gender as almost uniformly easy to get into bed, particularly when there’s alcohol involved.

So why do I keep doing it?

Why do you feel you keep doing it?

Hoo, boy.

Let’s dwell on something else for a bit. What are your other plot threads, and how do they all converge?

Well, the Carell character has a few kids and that aforementioned spouse he’s now separated from. And they all have their various crushes and romantic pursuits -- but nobody knows how intertwined those emotional involvements are until my third act.

What happens then?

Most of the major characters coincidentally show up in the same location. Whereupon everybody discovers just who’s in love with whom, and the male characters all try to beat each other up. Oh, my God: Am I a “Fockers” picture?

No, nothing so traumatic. It’s more likely that you were the victim of some unnecessary skittishness at the final-draft stage, or even some late-in-the-game tinkering by a studio that was worried you were too smart for your own good. That’s how abusers operate, you know.

So there’s still hope for me? Like, I could have an alternate take that surfaces on DVD?

Maybe so. But until then, let’s try to focus on the lessons we can learn from what’s already happened. Here’s one: When one character’s stated intent is to beat another character senseless with a piece of miniature-golf equipment, he will typically not stand in one place, loudly issuing said threat until his would-be prey has time to disarm him with a clever riposte. People in real life who are bound and determined to hand down an ass-kicking usually don’t worry about stepping on somebody else’s line.

Gee, you’re right. Why didn’t I see that?

Because you’re not perfect. None of us is, except maybe Defending Your Life. Now let’s hear about your denouement.

Well, basically, the Carell character’s male kid is graduating from junior high. At the ceremony, Carell seizes the podium and delivers a moving speech about the true significance of finding your soulmate. Everybody is charmed, and young and old alike are motivated to reflect more deeply on the choices they’ve made in their own lives. Give it to me straight, Doc: Am I Revenge of the Nerds?

No, no, no. You’re just a terrifically acted, intermittently insightful little movie that took some bad advice.

I see. So I’m not Wedding Crashers. I’m not Meet the Fockers. I’m not Revenge of the Nerds. Then I must be

I must be

doc, I think I’m having a breakthrough!

Yes? What is it?

I think I’m

Crazy, Stupid, Love!

Yes you are. You are. And how does that make you feel?

Great! I love Adam Sandler movies!

Why don’t we meet back here next week?

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