Crazy, Stupid, Travis
Rarely does a movie come along that hits me squarely between the eyes. Most movies are purely entertainment and get thumbs up or thumbs down immediately after watching and then forgotten about. Once in a while a scene from a movie will stand out to me and cause me to think beneath the surface. It’s rare, though, for a movie to resonate with me like Crazy, Stupid, Love did. Anyone that knows me well knows I’m a sucker for relationships and chick flicks (I can’t help that is how I’m wired). Having one character to relate to in a movie can be enjoyable but having 5 different characters I could relate to was definitely crazy stupid!
In case you haven’t seen it I will give you a 30 second trailer: The movie opens with Cal Weaver being told by his wife, Emily, that she had an affair with her coworker, David Lindhagen. Cal and Emily have three children, Hannah (mid 20s), Robbie (early teen), and Molly (11ish). Cal moves out and begins frequenting a bar where he voices his displeasure for his wife and David Lindhagen to anyone within earshot. Finally, Jacob Palmer calls Cal over from across the bar and makes Cal an offer. Jacob, being an expert at picking up women, offers to help Cal reinvent himself and get some of his manhood back. Cal accepts Jacob’s offer and the transformation is a beauty to watch.
I saw myself in many of the different characters in this movie for a lot of reasons. While on the roller coaster of life I have been in the shoes of these different characters and it literally took me days to piece together why this movie hit me so hard. I watched it again a couple days later and have watched it probably 6 more times since then.
First, Cal Weaver (played perfectly by Steve Carell) portrays a husband whose life has just been turned upside down. Hearing the words of a marriage being finalized and then having those words sink in are definitely enough to make one jump out of a moving vehicle. The numbing jolt experienced by this news wouldn’t be wished on your worst enemy. The culmination of years of love, sneaking into years of indifference, slipping into years of contempt, sliding into years of regret, and finally free-falling into hatred is a process that I wish all couples could avoid. If only there was an automatic loop that took both parties back to the beginning stages of love the minute they discover indifference has snuck in. As soon as the slip-and-slide of contempt and regret take hold the relationship’s days are usually numbered.
Cal reminded me of myself for several different reasons. First, I saw myself in him as a husband whose life is crumbling apart due to a marriage that is disintegrating. I have been there and they are difficult times to relive. After the dust settled and Cal finally met Jacob he began the process of regaining his manhood and rediscovering himself. I have been there as well. I don’t remember going and announcing to the whole bar that my wife was leaving me for David Lindhagen the way Cal did but I do remember attempting to find a little comfort in a lot of bottles.
Next, during marriage I found myself more in the character of Cal but while single I most definitely played the part of Jacob (played by Ryan Gosling). Even though I never had the looks of Ryan Gosling (or his “photo-shopped abs”); I never let that stop me from meeting new people—and by “people” I mean women. 😉 I decided since life presented another chance at freedom I should take advantage of it. I am not necessarily proud of every decision I made during that time of my life but every experience has molded me into who I am today.
Third, David Lindhagen (played by Kevin Bacon) reminded me of myself because he was the “nice guy” trying to steal Emily away from Cal. I have been in the “friend zone” a couple times trying to play Mr. Nice Guy waiting for the girl to realize I was the better option for her. Being the nice guy who’s stuck in the friend zone doesn’t help the manhood much either. Being David Lindhagen meant I made it too much about the girl and didn’t save any identity for myself.
It’s crazy now that I think about it. Women rarely want the David Lindhagen, but they are always attracted to the Jacob Palmer, who usually ends up settling into Cal Weaver after years of marriage. If the man continues to be a Jacob Palmer he never settles down enough to fall in love but if he settles down too much he risks turning into Cal Weaver. I suppose this is where the movie hits me squarely between the eyes. For the second time in my life I have experienced this transition in me from being the charming and confident Jacob Palmer to settling into the self-doubting Cal Weaver. This is a mystery I hope to solve; especially knowing there are plenty of David Lindhagens lurking about just waiting for my wife to become frustrated with me.
I also have to mention Cal and Emily’s son, Robbie. I saw a very young and naïve version of myself in Robbie for obvious reasons. Besides the fact that Robbie is discovering his manhood for the first time while being madly in love with his babysitter, he is also unwilling to give up the idea that he has a soul mate. I often wonder why so many adults lose faith in the idea of a soul mate and turn cynical towards the grandiose possibilities of love? It seems as though all of us guilty-as-charged adults could use some of Robbie’s persistent refusal to give up on love.
There is also another theme with two of the characters that resonated with me: The babysitter’s father and Cal both acting as a protective father for their daughters. The lengths that a father will go to ensure their daughters stay away from the Jacob Palmers of the world are endless. Truth be told, as fathers, we usually despise the Jacob Palmers because that is who we once were. We can’t stand to see our daughters falling for less-desirable versions of ourselves. I can only hope I have wisdom and patience with the Jacob Palmers that come knocking on my door to take my daughter out when she is allowed to date at 35. 🙂
So the moral of the story is Love is Crazy, Love is Stupid, Love is Love! It seems as though real life never ends as gracefully as it does in the movies. In real life, Love isn’t any less crazy or any less stupid—it is actually quite messy. If there’s one thing I learned about Love, though, one must always keep a sense of humor. I found myself laughing out loud several times throughout this movie. Maybe that’s another reason Crazy, Stupid, Love resonated so deeply with me. It made me look at how messy love can be and yet still gave me plenty to laugh at.
I wish you all the craziest, stupidest love you can wrap your heart around!