A smart, funny romantic comedy is hard to find but here’s a good one – CRAZY, STUPID, LOVE.

In CRAZY, STUPID, LOVE. Cal Weaver doesn’t in any way anticipate that at the end of a dinner out with his wife Emily, she will ask for a divorce instead of a dessert. That’s how this smart, funny romantic comedy starts and just under 2 hours later, it’s really delivered.

Ryan Gosling as Jacob and Steve Carell as Cal in Crazy, Stupid, Love.

Ryan Gosling as Jacob and Steve Carell as Cal

We watch Cal, played in spot-on crumpled fashion by Steve Carell, deal with this shocking change in his life and luckily he soon meets a saviour to drag him up from the boring schlump he’s become and reinvent himself a cool and wiser dude. That saviour is Jacob Palmer, played in absolutely storming fashion by Ryan Gosling. These two unlikely guys form a beautiful unit, with Cal learning the moves on how to navigate the singles market – meeting the fabulous Marisa Tomei in the process – and maybe get a little enjoyment out of his new, very sad and lonely existence.

“Amy heard you crying in the bathroom – we all thought it was cancer” says Cal’s boss. “Thank God, man!” he laughs.

“Yeah, just my relationship…” says Cal.

Emily, his ‘soul mate’, didn’t completely win me over at the start and when she’s played by Julianne Moore you wonder how that’s possible but my sympathy was totally with Cal. She’s cheated on him with none other than Kevin Bacon – her work colleague, with the glorious name no one can pronounce – and so all her reasons as to why the marriage was failing didn’t really hit home.

Ryan Gosling as Jacob and Emma Stone as Hannah in Crazy Stupid Love

Gosling with Emma Stone

However, just after the film’s midway point, we’re treated to a very nice and really surprising twist that changes things around and you start to feel quite differently about Emily and Cal. Added to all that is the relationship between Cal and his teenage son Robbie, played with great assurance by young discovery Jonah Bobo – their constantly changing dynamic really anchors the film and provides another level, with Robbie desperate to connect with his long-time secret love, family babysitter Jessica (a winning Analeigh Tipton) who has her very own agenda.

But at the same time as we’re watching relationships falter, we’re seeing one start. That’s while you’re luxuriating in Ryan Gosling’s dazzling performance – totally at the other end of the spectrum from his cool turns in dramas like Drive or Blue Valentine. Here again though it’s effortless to watch him as Jacob, gliding through the bar, all confident charisma and where no lady stands a chance. Except his gorgeous match (maybe his ‘soul mate’?) in the form of Emma Stone‘s Hannah. She really is a star in the making and no wonder she and Gosling have teamed up again in the forthcoming but very different Gangster Squad – they have great chemistry.

There’s such a wonderful underlying romanticism in all this, illustrated by the line:

“I will never stop trying. Because when you find ‘the one’… you never give up.”

and that is courtesy of a sharp script by Dan Fogelman (whose previous credits include the very witty animated gems Bolt and Cars) and directed with polish by Glenn Ficarra and John Requa (who gave us the zany I Love You, Philip Morris and the very black Bad Santa).

So if you haven’t yet caught CRAZY, STUPID, LOVE. do give it a watch and you’ll laugh, you’ll cry and have a really good time.