Evaluation of Movie
Crazy, Stupid, Love is an American romantic comedy released in 2011. It shows a complex set of relationships, which eventually prove to be interconnected. One of the main plot lines tells a story about a couple who have been married for almost twenty-five years and have three children. At the beginning of the movie, a husband, Cal, learns that his wife, Emily, has committed adultery, and he wants a divorce. Severely depressed, Cal goes to a bar where he drinks alcohol and loudly complains to strangers. Another line depicts relationships between Cal and Jacob, a womanizer who regularly visits the bar in search of sexual achievements. Jacob assists Cal in rediscovering his masculinity. The third storyline shows the development of romantic relationships between Jacob and Hanna, a Cal’s daughter. At the end of the movie, all characters successfully solve their relationship problems. Crazy, Stupid, Love relates to the three interpersonal communication concepts, namely, intimate relationships, conflict, and power.
The most obvious concept observed in the Crazy, Stupid, Love, is communication in romantic and family relationships. Kory Floyd in his book Interpersonal Communication, describes the Mark Knapp’s model of relationship formation. According to the scholar, people go through five stages when they form their relationships. These stages are “initiating, experimenting, intensifying, integrating, and bonding” (Floyd, 2011, p. 323). The movie mainly shows the initiating and experimenting stages. The first stage can be observed when Jacob meets Hanna for the first time in a bar. During their second meeting, they spend all night talking and sharing personal information. This event shows the experimenting stage where people intend to learn more about each other (Floyd, 2011, p. 324). One more Knapp’s model describes five stages of ending romantic relationships. It includes “differentiating, circumscribing, stagnating, avoiding, and terminating” (Floyd, 2011, p. 330). In the movie, the relationship of Cal and Emily goes through the last stage, which is terminating. They cease living together, announce their split to friends and family, and have relationships with others. Crazy, Stupid, Love represents opposite stages of Knapp’s relationships models, namely, initiating, experimenting and terminating.
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The movie reflects the idea that intimate relationships require continuous investment. According to Floyd, close relationships have “a higher degree of investment” (2011, p. 315). It means that each partner should make more or less equal contribution to the development of relationships. Otherwise, one party may feel dissatisfied. Each relationship requires such resources as partners’ energies, time, money, and attention (Floyd, 2011, p. 315). In Crazy, Stupid, Love, Emily explains her husband why she has cheated on him, “And we haven’t been us. Not for a long time. And I don’t know when you and I stopped being us” (Ficarra, Requa, Carell, & Novi, 2011). After some time, Cal or Emily, or both, ceased to invest their efforts in their relationship, which gradually deteriorated. In the scene where Cal talks with Emily at school, he admits, “I made an effort when we were younger, didn’t I? I guess I got lazy. I got boring, is what I got” (Ficarra et al., 2011). Cal realizes that his laziness is the main reason for his wife’s betrayal. The movie proves that partners cannot develop their romantic relationships without continuous efforts and investment.
Another idea reflected in the movie is that intimate relationships require deep commitment. Floyd explains commitment as a person’s desire to keep relationships no matter what happens. Although all couples inevitably encounter conflicts occasionally, they usually manage to solve them as they believe in promising future of their relationships (Floyd, 2011, p. 314). There is a scene where the Cal’s thirteen-year-old son tells that people should fight for their soul mates. If people love each other, they should do everything possible to protect their relationships. In the last scene of the movie, Cal promises, “I don’t know what’s gonna happen. I will never stop trying. Because when you find the one, you never give up” (Ficarra et al., 2011). The main character admits that he and his wife have made many mistakes. However, he promises that he will fight for their family due to deep feelings he has for his wife.
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Next concept observed in the movie is an interpersonal conflict. Floyd states that conflict is a natural part of every relationship. According to the author, people who have a strong connection to each other, for example, close friends, relatives, and romantic partners, inevitably experience conflicts at some stage in their lives. In other words, the existence of conflict indicates that couples have interdependent relationships (Floyd, 2011, p. 355). The movie also shows a conflict as an integral part of intimate relationships. The main characters, Cal and Emily, have been married for almost twenty-five years and have three children. They seem to be a happy married couple. However, despite their strong feelings, they face serious conflict which threatens to ruin their family. Thus, Crazy, Stupid, Love proves that conflict is a natural and inevitable phenomenon.
Throughout the movie, it becomes clear that even a bitter conflict can have a positive influence on relationships. In his book Interpersonal Communication, Floyd argues that one of the principal characteristics of conflict is that it can be beneficial (2011, p. 357). If partners handle their conflict constructively, they will not only overcome difficulties but also get a better understanding of each other and their relationships. The main characters prove this statement throughout the movie. Cal and Emily eventually overcome their problems. Moreover, the struggle helps them to improve themselves and their attitude to each other.
One more concept evident in the movie is a demand-withdraw pattern. In his book, Floyd presents the research of psychologist John Gottman. This scholar has investigated how partners behave during conflicts and identified four specific problematic behaviors: criticism, contempt, defensiveness, and stonewalling (2011, p. 372). The main character of the movie often uses stonewalling behavior when he faces unpleasant situations. The author explains that people who stonewall do not look at their partners and do not reply to their demands or questions. Moreover, they can even leave the place in order to finish the discussion (Floyd, 2011, p. 373). According to Gottman’s investigations, the primary reason for this behavior is that people “feel emotionally and psychologically flooded, or incapable of engaging in the conversation any longer” (Floyd, 2011, p. 374).
The striking example of the stonewalling behavior is the scene where Cal jumps out of the car when his wife tells why she wants a divorce. He tells Emily, “I’ll leave tonight. I’ll sign whatever you want. Just please stop talking about it” (Ficarra et al., 2011). One more example is the scene where Cal comes to pick some furniture and has a conversation with his wife in the garden. While Emily is trying to explain her feelings and motives for committing adultery, Cal does not respond to her questions and talks about gardening issues. The movie supports the idea that people often adopt the withdrawing pattern during conflict episodes when they are emotionally overwhelmed.
The concept of power in interpersonal communication can also be applied to Crazy, Stupid, Love. In his book, Floyd defines power as “ability to manipulate, influence, or control other people or events” (2011, p. 363). In the movie, Jacob’s character vividly demonstrates his power during communication. When he instructs Cal, he says, “You want something, you take it” (Ficarra et al., 2011). This character regularly uses various persuasive techniques to get what he desires. Language plays one of the leading roles in this manipulation process. Jacob tells women what they want to hear, makes them feel beautiful, and after that, he orders them to come with him. Numerous examples from the movie show that almost all women succumb to Jacob’s manipulation and accept his invitation. Females’ behavior is an illustration of the referent power or power of attraction. According to Floyd, this type of power refers to people who tend to meet the demands and requests made by a person they like or feel attraction to (2011, p. 366). Thus, the movie accurately describes the interpersonal communication concept of power.
Another type of power represented in the Crazy, Stupid, Love is an expert power. Floyd describes this form of power as the people’s intention to follow the advice of the experts in a particular field. This power is based on knowledge, experience, or expertise (Floyd, 2011, p. 367). The vivid example of expert power in the movie is the relationship between Cal and Jacob. Cal perceives Jacob as an expert in seduction and follows his recommendations without complaint. Another example is the scene where a Cal and Emily’s baby-sitter, Jessica, asks her classmate how to attract a mature and old man. Jessica knows that Madison usually has relationships with older men and therefore, perceives her as an expert in this matter. Due to this reason, Jessica fully follows her instructions.
The last concept depicted in the movie is image management. People are usually concerned with the way they want others to perceive them. For instance, they want others to regard them as serious, reliable, and faithful. On the other hand, there are situations when people want others to see them as friendly, cheerful, and outgoing. The process when a person creates an appropriate image they want to project is called an image management (Floyd, 2011, p. 89).
When Jacob prepares Cal for his first attempt to seduce a woman, he explains what person this woman is looking for and which image Cal should reflect. He says, “She’s just looking for an opportunity to settle for a responsible and stable adult. And I’d like her to settle for you” (Ficarra et al., 2011). Crazy, Stupid, Love shows the image management process as one of the manipulative means.
The movie reflects significant and valuable interpersonal communication concepts of communication in intimate relationships, interpersonal conflict, and power. All these concepts effectively apply to nowadays people’s life. The fact that people go through specific stages when they form or terminate their relationships may be both worthless and valuable depending on particular relationships. Although all couples are similar in some way, they can develop their relationships differently. Therefore, it is not correct to apply the same model of stages to all couples. Another theory relates to the fact that intimate relationship requires continuous investment and deep commitment. It is a highly useful concept since it can help partners to establish long-term relationships. Overall, implementation of all theories can have a positive influence people’s interpersonal communication.
Another group of concepts relates to the interpersonal conflict. The first one presupposes that a conflict is a normal and natural stage of each type of relationships. It is important for people to understand that eventually they will experience conflicts in their lives. This concept helps people to prepare for such situations. Another feature shows that a dispute can be beneficial. This concept makes partners perceive conflicts in more positive ways than they usually do and encourages them to find constructive methods to solve their problems. One more theory, observed in the movie, is the stonewalling pattern. Nowadays, many people, especially males, tend to withdraw from the discussions and leave their conflicts unresolved. Overall, interpersonal conflict concepts can effectively apply to nowadays life and relationships in particular.
The last set of concepts presented in Crazy, Stupid, Love refers to the notions of power and persuasion. These concepts are vital in today’s manipulative society where a majority of people develop their relationships with the help of persuasion. Therefore, every individual should not only know about manipulation techniques but also be able to recognize them during communication with others. Referent and expert forms of power are a commonplace in nowadays people’s life. The movie shows that people should be careful in following the requests of anyone they consider attractive in some way or proficient in a particular area. In most cases, such people’s image may be delusive. The last concept relates to the image management process. Every individual experiences the necessity to create an image appropriate for a particular situation. It can be a job interview, first date, or meeting with partner’s parents. Overall, all concepts of interpersonal communication observed in the movie can apply to modern reality.
To conclude, Crazy, Stupid, Love accurately presents many interpersonal communication concepts, which can be valuable in people’s everyday lives. The evaluation of this movie is a beneficial assignment since it helps to put the theoretical knowledge of interpersonal communication into practice. Although Crazy, Stupid, Love is a fiction, it fully describes the patterns of behavior, which people usually have in real life. It is much easier to understand the concepts through analysis and evaluation. This assignment shows how to apply the theories from Floyd’s Interpersonal Communication to real-life communicative situations. Moreover, the principles from the book and the movie may be helpful in developing own personal relationships.