Thursday, February 19, 2015

Crazy Stupid Love

            With a title and a cast like this, it is easy for an audience member to assume that this film failed or did poorly on the Bechdel or any other form of grading system for films. The cast members, or at least the cast featured on the poster, are Caucasian, and are each with a member of the opposite sex. These assumptions are unfortunately correct. Crazy Stupid Love has failed the Bechdel test and done poorly on others, along with movies like Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2, Avatar, Star Wars, and many others.
            This movie, as can be assumed by the title, is completely focused on the issues and situations that arise while being in love. There are several separate couples, and a few characters in love with other characters that are already in relationships or have a significant age gap between them. Each interaction between characters has to do with “the chase” of men or women. There are several protagonists throughout this film. The root of the plot begins with Emily Weaver (Julianne Moore) asking her husband Cal (Steve Carell) for a divorce. Their children are at home with a baby sitter, Jessica (Analeigh Tipton). Their 13-year-old son, Robbie (Jonah Bobo) is in love with the Jessica, while Jessica is in love with Cal, her employer. Meanwhile, Hannah (Emma Stone) tries her hardest to avoid a stealthy pick-up artist at a bar, to no avail. Cal later learns from this pick-up artist – Jacob Palmer (Ryan Gosling) - to become a ladies man, and potentially win his wife back.         The entire plot is the crossing of feelings between all of the characters, and how their relationships develop as the film moves on. This could be an argument as to why the film fails the Bechdel test… there seems to be no reason that any woman would talk about anything besides obtaining a man – it would go against the plot. The Representation Test gave the film an okay score when it comes to the portrayal of women – There are women portraying the protagonist, women over 45, and there is a woman of color who doesn’t fulfill racial stereotypes. Hannah’s best friend, Liz, is portrayed by an Asian woman (Liza Lapira), and her character isn’t in the least bit stereotypical. However, the two never speak about anything other than men, causing the failure of the Bechdel test.
            In my opinion, the filmmakers are correct in saying that women frequently talk about men. These things are a fact of life – people want to talk about how to attract the person of their desires no matter their sexual orientation. It is also true that women talk about topics other than men; these conversations simply aren’t portrayed in the film, because for one reason or another, they were deemed irrelevant. In the male department, the film scored two points for the non-stereotypical and non-violent roles. Carell’s character, Cal, is a loving husband and father. He seems to be a major caregiver to his children, while his wife works primarily. Although his character fluctuates as the plot thickens, he remains the steady caregiver to his family as the movie ends.

            Although I completely agree that films need to be more open to race and sexual preference, the test seemed to have an unfair advantage, because the subject did not match the required content. The movie scored 6 out of 27 possible points, earning a C grade. I think it’s a great thing that people are starting to notice what is lacking in representation in the film industry. However, the testing methods seem to be on the unattainable side. The Representation Test offers a possible perfect score of 27 points, but it is possible highly confusing and intricate if you were to put all of these elements into a movie – it isn’t natural unless it were a movie like Valentines Day or the musical Rent, because these productions follow multiple, separate people and interactions. This plot happened to be about the pursuit and maintaining of love and relationships, and I don’t think it should be penalized for that purpose.

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