(Spoilers throughout for The Good Guy and Crazy, Stupid, Love, deal with it.)
I’ve been loving, inexplicably, on the movie The Good Guy since I first saw it. Overall the plot is a stretch and the screenwriter tries so hard to hit us over the head with obvious symbolism that I felt like Helen Keller by the end of the movie, but there’s still something that draws me to it. I thought it might be my lady crush on one Alexis Bledel or it might be the literary overtones (and by overtones I mean “LOOK AT US WE ARE LOOSELY BASED ON A BOOK SO WE ARE GOING TO REFERENCE THAT BOOK AND READING LOTS BECAUSE WE LIKE BOOKS, DO YA GET IT HUH? DO YA?”).
However, after a viewing of Crazy, Stupid, Love.tonight I realized what it was. The douchey, far-more-good-looking-than-anyone-has-any-business-being womanizer didn’t get the girl. It was the awkward, sensitive, possibly too-nice gomer who got his schnookums in the end.
Now I’ll grant you the circumstances are fairly unrealistic what with the whirlwind six-week romance and the fact that the guy reads. But overall our dear hero seems fairly normal and, despite the fact that he goes from rockin’ a woven belt with a BlackBerry attachment to something slightly more appropriate, he remains relatively unchanged. This works because he doesn’t have to work to turn a one-dimensional personality into something new and interesting. Unlike so many other movie “nice guys,” he already has depth and doesn’t need to fabricate passions by way of skirt chasing and other such manly activities. Even at the end of the movie he’s still the traveled, literate former soldier he always was.
By comparison, Steve Carrell’s character in Crazy, Stupid, Love. had to completely change and go through a bird-dogging phase of his own before he could get his wife back. Meanwhile suave Ryan Gosling, looking like he walked off the pages of GQ, is chasing every girl in town with great, unattached success. Except with one girl. The dorky, studious one who puts all the rest of the vapid, conventionally sexy girls to shame by just being her endearingly goofy self. She peels back his misogynistic layers to find the real man inside. The sensitive one who acquired emotional scars in his childhood. Scars that caused him to objectify women and treat them as interchangeable sex dolls. But it’s A.O.K. now because the pretty, ginger screwball asked about his Brookstone pillow.
This doesn’t happen in the real world of unmet expectations. The nerdy chick doesn’t win over the smooth, handsome, rich, self-involved skeeve and turn him into the sickeningly doting boyfriend just because she said “no” once. No, the real world goof sits at home perfecting her reader’s pallor as she dreams of meeting a man like Gilbert Blythe, Mr. Darcy or Theodore “Laurie” Lawrence (yes, I still prefer him to Professor Baher, so sue me) as she collects cats and pounds exponentially with each passing year of her singleness.
I know railing against Hollywood is clichéd and fruitless, considering these are the characters and plotlines that make money so they will continue to rule the screens. And I’m no better than the next hopeless, amorous idealist who subjects herself to unrealistic tales of turning the bad boy good or interesting good guys waiting to swoop in and save us from the bad boy who will never turn good. So I guess I’m more angry with myself than I am at the purveyors of these quixotic movie endings. Because I actually enjoyed Crazy, Stupid, Love.
It was witty, well-written and prominently featured Ryan Gosling’s abs, pecs, shoulders, smile, etc. Plus, the girl who says things like “I’m R-rated sexy” and follows it up with the nervous laugh of a lass who has never talked to a man before wins! How delightfully relatable she is. It makes me feel like I might find love too!
And that’s the crux of the matter. As I tip toe on just the wrong side of a little too jaded, I guess I need this type of false encouragement to bring me back. Despite the starry-eyed silliness, it keeps me wishin’ and hopin’ and dreamin’ of that real-world happy ending. The one with the 2.5 rug rats, mortgage, family obligations and arguments about the dishwasher. So keep it up movie makers. I will continue to plunk down my $10 for impossible fantasy love stories that both enrage and buoy me because I’m a sucker in need of a little romanitcal encouragement.