Ryan vs. Justin: Battle of the Studs, Part 3
Ryan Gosling and Justin Timberlake both have newly released films that promote their "studliness," but this contest is strictly a Round One knockout.
Ryan Gosling wins because:
1. He is much more handsome
2. He has a hotter bod
3. He is inherently more sexy
4. He is a true actor.
Crazy Stupid Love is one of the better summer movies, mostly because it is not based on a silly comic book and it has a number of wonderful actors. This is the first film in which Gosling is being marketed as a sex symbol, and he has been undeniably attractive in a number of his previous films. However, his acting and the movie's script were the principal reasons for seeing those movies. In Crazy Stupid Love he is totally presented as a stud. And no pun intended, Gosling rises to the occasion. The plot of this superior comedy has Julianne Moore asking Steve Carell for a divorce in the opening scene. The rest of the story is the sledge-hammer effect this has on everyone else in the movie.
Gosling plays a local bar Lothario who takes Carell in hand and tries to repackage him as a sexy single man. Gosling not only buffed up for this film but is dressed as trendily as any actor since Richard Gere in American Gigolo, 30 years ago. His performance is incredibly deft and detailed and you can see the glee in which Gosling sheds his "serious, indy star" persona to play the all-sexy Jacob. His relationship with Emma Stone (Easy A) is very funny and her hysterical comments that he looks "Photoshopped" when she first sees him sans-shirt is one of the film's highlights.
The rest of the cast is also top notch. Although she is not given enough to do, Moore is excellent as the wife with the mid life crisis. Marisa Tomei has two great scenes that we won't spoil by discussing in detail. Carell is an acquired taste. Not having ever seen The Office, I can't say I have ever warmed to him as an actor. His bumbling, average man routine is fairly effective and he does have some very funny scenes (especially when he keeps mumbling that he is a "cuckold" at the bar.) Carell is sort of like a more hip Ernest Borgnine a la Marty. He is good at his schtick but he always seems to be aware of his off-beat charm, which can be off-putting in any actor.
But Gosling is reason enough to see this film. And the two locker room scenes where Gosling's privates seem to be in Carell's face are truly hilarious.
Justin Timberlake does not fare as well in the dreary Friends With Benefits. Two hetero friends who try to have sex with no emotional complications is not new territory. Last January we had Natalie Portman and Ashton Kutcher in the same roles. Now we have Mila Kunis playing the girl opposite Timberlake. The whole film is full of movie references and silly one liners and it drags on for almost two hours.
Timberlake is not a true actor. He got by in Social Network but has no real range. He is sort of cute and sort of built but Kutcher beat him in both departments in the earlier film (and he has a nicer butt). Kunis is very pretty and very ordinary. She tries her best but she just can't turn her character into a real person. It is interesting that actors Emma Stone and Andy Samberg each have a cameo as the two previous love interests for both Timberlake and Kunis. (We get to see the two breakup scenes.) Both Stone and Samberg (I kid you not!) are both so much more interesting and sexier than the film's two leads that you wish they had gotten together. And the film has a disastrous section where Kunis meet sexy Bryan Greenberg. Until the script makes him ridiculously disappear, he blows Timberlake off the screen. Greenberg is handsome, funny and totally sexy.
Great actors like Woody Harrelson, Patricia Clarkson and Jenna Elfman are all tossed into this mess. Their considerable talents are totally wasted, especially with Harrelson playing a liberated gay man with all the subtlety of a later-day Truman Capote.
Crazy Stupid Love is a funny respite for the summer drek filling the multiplexes, and Gosling proves he is not only one of the truly fine actors of his generation but now one of the sexiest men in films. See this movie (which I've renamed Crazy Sexy Ryan) and avoid Justin and Mila. You just can't fake sexual charisma.