Monday, August 15, 2011

The Battle of the Ryans

Comic Hits and Misses With Reynolds and Gosling

Many are stumped and befuddled as to the truth.  Who is the hotter, oops, I mean stronger actor, Ryan Gosling or Ryan Reynolds?  Just like it’s cats vs. dogs and Mets vs. Yankees, you are either Team Gosling or Team Reynolds.  There is no in-between!

What better time to compare their abs, er, talents, then a time like this when both Canadian leading men star in comedies that came out this summer: “Crazy Stupid Love” for Gosling and “The Change Up” for Reynolds.  After the jump: a quick review and conclusion as to which Ryan truly rules.

               “Crazy, Stupid, Love”  * * *

Starring Ryan Gosling, Steve Carell, Julianne Moore, Emma Stone, Marisa Tomei, Kevin Bacon, Analeigh Tipton and Jonah Bobo.

Rated PG-13 (for coarse humor, sexual content and language.)

Directed by Glen Ficarra and John Requa

Written by Dan Fogelman

In “Crazy Stupid Love,” Cal (Carell) is down on his luck when his wife Emily (Moore) confesses that she has had an affair and wants a divorce.  Drowning himself in numerous vodka-cranberries at a local swanky bar, he bumps into the ultimate ladies’ man, Jacob (Gosling, but of course). 

Here is where the Ryan comparison game comes into play: both men portray playboys in their films, but Gosling’s Jacob is a unique breed.  He has his pick-up lines, his dress, his behavior down to a fine science.  He dresses exceptionally well and when he picks up a woman, focuses the conversation entirely on her, smoothly avoiding questions directed at his own life.   Hook, line and sink her, he goes home with a different beauty every night.  He coaches hapless Cal on the rules of his lavish single life.  

There are entertaining twists and turns and some very funny scenes which make this a decent film.  Not one to run to theatres for, but perfect for Netflixing on a night in.

Gosling fits into his playboy role with total ease.  His appealing looks, knowing smirk and comic skills make this a fine segue into more comedic roles for the actor.

“The Change-Up”  *

Starring Jason Bateman, Ryan Reynolds, Leslie Mann and Olivia Wilde

Rated R (for pervasive strong crude sexual content and language, some graphic nudity and drug use.)

Directed by David Dobkin

Written by Jon Lucas and Scott Moore

This film proves the point, in too many ways to count, that Hollywood really has no qualms about crossing the line when it comes to lewd humor.   “The Change-Up” has more gross images and fake breasts than actual funny scenes.  (It is marketed as a comedy, not a horror film, right?)  

I could go on and on about how un-necessary films like “The Change-Up” are, but I digress.  The premise is that family-man Dave (Jason Bateman) and die-hard single guy Mitch (Reynolds) switch bodies in a bizarre peeing-in-a-fountain incident. (Need I say more?) Suddenly, things get pretty complicated as the two men try to switch back while juggling their new lives.  There are glimpses of what could be an engaging storyline (Leslie Mann has a few compelling scenes as Dave’s wife Jamie), but it is quickly drowned out by lurid attempts at a cheap laugh.

Reynolds plays a character who is neither likeable nor multi-dimensional.  It’s one thing to play a miserable character, it’s another for there to be no purpose or deeper meaning behind this character. 

Conclusion:  The craft that goes into his scenes and his general choice of films make Gosling the better actor.  He has been nominated for an academy award for “Half Nelson” and two Golden Globes, for “Blue Valentine” and “Lars and the Real Girl.”  Still, Reynolds has some serious, not just funny-man, acting chops beneath his bulging biceps and six-pack.  Let’s hope he chooses to showcase them sooner rather than later!

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