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Steve Carell in 'Crazy, Stupid, Love': What the Critics Are Saying About His Performance

Crazy, Stupid, Love.
Warner Bros.
Steve Carell in "Crazy, Stupid, Love."

The star’s first "post-The Office" movie release has reviewers craving a fresher take on the character.

Crazy, Stupid, Love, Steve Carell’s first film release since leaving NBC’s The Office, opened in theatres on Friday. He gets top billing in the romantic comedy, which also stars Ryan Gosling, Julianne Moore, and Emma Stone, and shows three generations of romantic attraction proving experience counts for very little when it comes to love.

VIDEO: Crazy, Stupid, Love Trailer

It has received generally favorable reviews among critics, but many of them, including The Hollywood Reporter’s Kirk Honeycutt, have pointed out the film’s overabundance of characters and subplots. Some have compared it to another ensemble romantic comedy, 2003’s Love Actually, which they say handles its cast much more effectively.

But, what do the critics think of Carell’s performance in the film? Honeycutt says Carell, “who has the market cornered for playing schnooks — his best movie performance remains Dan in Real Life, however — finds something new here by suggesting that there can be worse things than being a schnook.”

Entertainment Weekly’s Owen Gleiberman agrees, saying Carell “has an unexpectedly sincere gift for playing men who have just had the hope pulled right out from under them.”

“Carell gives a ruefully funny and lived-in performance,” Gleiberman writes. “As the once-cozy husband and father of three who has lost any vestige of his alpha-male instinct.”

The New York Observer’s Rex Reed agrees that Carell can play this type of role easily, but doesn’t seem impressed by the actor’s ability to bring something new to the character. Reed writes, “He has a patent on the role, but hasn’t got a clue about how to make it look anything more than ossified.”

A few reviewers believe it’s the pairing and chemistry of Carell bouncing off Gosling that makes a difference. Movieline’s Stephanie Zacharek says, “The magnetism between the movie’s two male stars, Steve Carell and Ryan Gosling, is what really makes the movie tick.”

She also writes, that Carell “can be exhausting to watch when he’s allowed to hog every scene. He’s better when there are surefooted actors all around him, to siphon some of the faux-self-effacement off him.”