Sunday, February 19, 2012

Away We Go and Crazy, Stupid, Love - superior romcoms

I love a romcom as much as the next person, but it's been a real pleasure to see two particularly brilliant ones over the last couple weeks. First up was Away We Go, a film that raised a small ripple of appreciation when it was released, but has probably found its indie, put-a-bird-on-it audience, me included, on DVD/Blu-ray.

Unflashily directed by Sam Mendes and starring The American Office's John Krasinski and Bridesmaids' Maya Rudolph, it follows a couple as they travel across the States, trying to find the best place to bring up their unborn child. And it's lovely. Actually not as twee as I'd expected, there are some big laughs here, but importantly you just enjoy spending time with this charming and very grounded couple. Perfectly cast and with some surprisingly lyrical passages of dialogue, it's a little gem.

With Steve Carell (The Office again, of course), Julianne Moore, Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone on board, Crazy, Stupid, Love got rather more attention in cinemas, but the Portlandia set shouldn't dismiss it on that account.

Carell plays Cal, a once-happily married man who finds himself being coached in picking up women by the super-smooth Jacob (Gosling) when his wife tells him she wants a divorce. Along the way we also learn about the lives and messed-up loves of Cal's kids and even Jacob himself, as lessons are learned and soulmates united.

Ok, so the fact that Jacob's alpha male posturing apparently works on every single woman he meets rankles a little, but in the main this is a hugely likeable and big-hearted film with a neat twist. The performances are what really make it - but then that's exactly what we've come to expect from the likes of Carell and Stone. Great fun.

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