Crazy, Stupid, Love: Movie Review
Review by Stacey Tuttle
“A man cannot be passive about what Scripture tells him to do for his family and expect to be found faithful to God in the end. He must see with spiritual eyes and realize that future generations are directly impacted by his daily decisions.” —The Resolution for Men
Crazy, Stupid, Love begins with the end of Cal and Emily’s marriage.
Emily had an affair with a guy at work. In her confession to Cal, you can see that she doesn’t actually want to leave her husband, but she desperately does want things to change, and want him to fight for her. She doesn’t feel treasured any more.
Cal however, doesn’t want to fight for anything, he wants to run. He does the only thing he can think of in the moment to escape from the problem at hand: he jumps out of the car (she is driving).
A dazed and confused, very emotionally wounded Cal then goes to a very hip bar were he is comically and dramatically out of place. He has been married since he was 17. His hairdo and his clothes are anything but slick and he has no idea how to play the singles game.
Enter Jacob. He is the best around when it comes to being a smooth, confident, single man on the prowl. He decides to take pity on the poor Cal and teach him a thing or two. He tells Cal, “I am going to help you rediscover your manhood. Do you have any idea where you could have lost it?”
And in some ways, Jacob is right. Part of the problem in Cal’s life is that he has lost something of his manhood. Certainly, I wouldn’t say that the way to go about getting it back was to start bedding lots of women. But, some of the things which made him awkward and “unsuccessful” in the bar scene, were the very same things which contributed to his lack of success in his marriage. He lacked confidence. He had forgotten how to romance a woman. And he had lost desire—he forgot what it was to desire his wife enough to fight for her. Not only that, but he lost desire in general…desire for life. He got boring.
The movie is surprising. It actually ends up supporting marriage and true love, and showing how empty the “singles / bar scene” can be. It’s surprising in other ways as well, so I don’t want to spoil it for those who want to see it.
But, here is the thing which kind of stood out to me: the impact that Cal’s actions had on his son, Robbie.
Robbie was an idealist and a dreamer. He believed in soul mates and in fighting for the one you love. Why wouldn’t he? His dad had found his soul mate when he was in high school. Robbie was in love with his babysitter, fully convinced that she was his soul mate. He was determined to fight for her, fully believing that she would one day respond if he treated her right. So, despite rejection and disappointment, he remained optimistic and kept on pursuing her. That is, until saw his Dad give up on his soul mate, Robbie’s mom. It was at that point that Robbie lost his belief in love and became a cynic.
Of course, Cal hated to see the disillusionment in his son and tried to give Robbie some good, fatherly advice. He ended up getting some of his own medicine…
Cal: “You think she’s your soul mate, right?”
Cal: “So don’t give up on her.”
Robbie: “Why not? You did.”
But then Robbie adds, “I need some inspiration right now, [Dad]. So, um, go get her back.”
Like father, like son. Robbie gave up on love when he saw his Dad give up on love. Robbie also rather wisely pointed out to his Dad that if he wanted his son to behave differently, believe differently—it all began with him. His example, his beliefs needed to change if he wanted his son’s to follow suit.
Cal tried. It went badly. He gave up again. And then he really heard it—the effect his actions had on his son. Robbie gave a speech and it was a horrible and depressing speech about how true love was a farce and soul mates didn’t exist, etc., and Cal realized, he really realized, what he had done to his son. He saw how deeply his actions had impacted his son. He also saw, again, that even though he had done it, he was also the only one who could fix it. He had the power to give his son the hope to dream again, but he had to fight for it. He had to fight for his marriage, and he had to do it not only for the sake of his marriage, but also for the sake of his son.
Cal got up, interrupted his son’s speech and apologized before everyone for the way his behavior had affected his son. He admitted his struggles, but also publically committed to trying to fix them. He declared his undying love for his wife. He began to be courageous, and fight for his life, rather than just giving up. This was when things began to turn around for Cal. This was when he really found his manhood.
I recently got a chance to preview the first chapter of a book called The Resolution for Men. This book is a response to the upcoming movie Courageous (from the makers of Fireproof). (Side note: Courageous opens September 30 – GO see it!) In the opening chapter, the writers describe an incident where a man is driving his family down the highway. He falls asleep at the wheel and his car swerves into oncoming traffic. The wife sees the danger and grabs the wheel pulling them back onto their side of the road, but she over corrects and is about to cause another accident. He meanwhile has awakened and realizes that while the cause of all this danger is himself, he is also the only one who can actually fix the problem. He has to take back control of the wheel from his wife and straighten out the vehicle.
They do a better job with the scenario, but that’s the basic idea. Anyway, they explain that countless marriages are in this same position. The man has fallen asleep at the wheel. The family is headed for trouble. The wife tries to correct the problem, but often her corrections are too dramatic, and she’s not in the right position to drive the car anyway – she can only do so much from her seat. The driver, the husband, has got to get back in control of the car. He has to drive. He has to have vision and know where he is going to take his family. And his actions, how he drives, where he drives, etc. have a direct result on each member of his family.
I couldn’t help but think of that when I was watching Crazy, Stupid, Love. It’s pretty much exactly what was going on. Cal had gotten sleepy at the wheel. He hadn’t noticed that he wasn’t connected to his wife anymore. He hadn’t noticed that he had gotten boring and bored with his own life. He fell asleep at the wheel and suddenly, his wife had an affair, his son lost his belief in love, and he was about to lose everything. His life was suddenly off track, headed down the wrong lane straight for a fatal collision. But, just as he was responsible for the problem, he also had the power to fix it.
As I think about how Cal’s entire family was affected both positively and negatively by his actions, I have been struck by that same principle in the Bible. It’s striking to me how often God chooses to bless an entire family because the patriarch was a godly man. When God wanted to bless a man, (take Abraham, for example) He told him He would bless his offspring. Psalm 112: 1-2 says, “Praise the LORD. / Blessed are those who fear the LORD, / who find great delight in his commands. / Their children will be mighty in the land” (emphasis mine). Not to be negative, but to be thorough, I should also point out that curses can be passed down from generation to generation as well. When a man leads his family in a Godly fashion, his family reaps the blessings. The converse is true as well.
So the thing is, this isn’t just for men. I mean, I’m talking about men because the movie made me think about how a man affects his family. But, really, it makes me think about how our actions affect others in general. I read in Acts 16 this morning about Paul and Silas being in jail. They chose to pray and sing hymns of praise to the Lord. And when they did, the earth shook, their chains fell off and the prison doors swung open. But here is what struck me about it – it wasn’t just Paul and Silas who were freed. The other prisoners were set free as well. And the jailer and all his family asked them, “What must I do to be saved?” and they were baptized that very night. Their actions had an incredible affect on the lives of everyone around them!
It challenges me to be so much more intentional about the way I live my life. Let me close with this exhortation from Hebrews 12:1. “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” It’s not just that they are watching us, but that others are affected by us. They will also reap the benefits of our blessings (or the pain of our curses).
Have you gotten off track? Are you heading for a collision? Are there others heading for that collision with you, because of you even? Take heart. You can get things back on track. You can fight for things to be better, just like Cal did. And as you confess where you went wrong and fight to make it right, others will be blessed and encouraged by your example. It is never too late for you to begin fighting for yourself to be the person you are supposed to be. And as Christians, we have the help of the Holy Spirit.
Let us lives so full of the blessings of God that others reap the benefits!
Questions for Discussion:
- Who else was affected by Cal’s actions – both positively and negatively, throughout the movie?
- Why do you think Cal lost his desire and his courage and confidence…or as Jacob put it, his manhood?
- Have you ever been a benefactor of the blessings God has given to someone else?
- Have you ever seen God bless you in such a way that it blessed other people as well?