Now playing: No love for Carell’s ‘Crazy, Stupid’ comedy |

Now playing: No love for Carell’s ‘Crazy, Stupid’ comedy

Andy Bockelman is a member of the Denver Film Critics Society, and his movie reviews appear in Explore Steamboat and the Craig Daily Press.

You know how love is easy to explain, simple to understand and a snap to find whenever you need it? Of course you don't because no one does.

That's the point the people behind "Crazy, Stupid, Love." try to get across, but their efforts to elucidate the details of such a complex, intangible subject are much more drawn out than necessary.

At one point, Cal Weaver (Steve Carell) had it all — loving wife (Julianne Moore), great kids (Jonah Bobo, Joey King) and a general sense of contentment. That was before he learned just how unhappy his wife was, leading to her having affair and their marriage breaking up.

As Cal drowns his sorrows night after night, he becomes more and more depressing to the people at his favorite watering hole. That's when fate steps in — wearing a very snazzy wardrobe — in the form of ladies man Jacob Palmer (Ryan Gosling), who offers to help Cal get his romantic life back on track.

While Cal dives back into the dating pool, his ex can't shake her feelings of guilt in moving on with her new lover (Kevin Bacon). Meanwhile, 13-year-old son Robbie has his own woes in the love department, pining after his 17-year-old babysitter (Analeigh Tipton), who's more interested in someone else: Cal.

We've seen Carell play the depressed sad sack in "Little Miss Sunshine," but even though Cal's in a very relatable predicament, the comedian rarely lets us see the reality of the situation. If Cal isn't throwing himself out of his wife's car in lieu of listening to her break bad news, he's bending a bartender's ear about his new difficulties.

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Neither sounds too out of the ordinary, but Carell makes everything that should be funny about his character and makes it so irritating that when we're supposed to feel for him, it's just not worth the investment.

Moore is completely withdrawn as his wife Emily, possessing none of the fire she has in most movies, instead letting Carell be the one who everybody wants to care about.

Big mistake.

Gosling is put into an awkward position as Cal's foil, Jacob — granted, he functions finely as the lothario who can sweet-talk any girl he wants and find success with the phrase, "You wanna get outta here?" But when it comes to dishing out advice to a divorced dude and giving him a makeover, that's when things start to feel weird.

Especially when he stands right in front of Cal in his birthday suit in the middle of a sauna.

Emma Stone barely shows up on the radar as Hannah, a soon-to-be lawyer whom Jacob meets and for the first time finds his pick-up line rebuffed, but that's not the last they hear of each other, as you can guess.

Hey, he needs a chance to show us his "big move," right?

Bobo brings a unique presence as Cal and Emily's son, lucky enough to have found the person he believes to be his soul mate, unlucky enough that she still thinks of him as a little kid. Tipton is also pretty good as the object of his affection, though what she sees in Cal is anybody's guess.

There are two sides to every story, but here there are at least eight, with a love octagon in play as characters blurt out, "I love you" to each other, sometimes getting a smile and other times a scowl in return.

The pain of unrequited love is something everyone feels from time to time, but the observations about such a universal topic within this romantic comedy are alarmingly prosaic and sometimes downright nonsensical.

Some of these love connections and disconnections work, but others are just filler.

Cal's experiences with Kate (Marisa Tomei), a single gal who's turned on by his brand of honesty, only serve as another thread in a poorly woven tapestry. The same goes for Emily's attempt to start a new relationship with the guy who helped break up her marriage.

It's not that these little love stories are bad on their own, but they lose their impact when all lumped together and scrutinized as one.

The storyline of "Crazy, Stupid, Love." is all over the place in the first two acts before finally coming to a surprisingly thoughtful finish in the third.

If the filmmakers could have gotten that same energy going from the beginning, it might have worked out to be a quick-witted, warm-hearted watch.

But, just like any love story it's just not that simple.

“Crazy, Stupid, Love.”

2 out of 4 stars

107 minutes

Starring: Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling, Julianne Moore and Emma Stone