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How “Crazy Stupid Love” stars Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone are saving Young Hollywood

How “Crazy Stupid Love” stars Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone are saving Young Hollywood (photo)

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Over the past few years, a looming question that’s plagued Hollywood has been, “Where have all the movie stars gone?” But, even more recently, the debate has shifted to the other pressing query, “If there are still movie stars left, what even makes one? What constitutes a movie star?” The first one can be answered, in the simplest terms, in that we are living in an era where both talent (Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt) and non-talent (“The Real Housewives of…Forget It, Now We Can’t Move There”) alike are overexposed and once reliable, bona fide movie stars have turned into unrecognizable, and often times, unlikable versions of people we used to know (Mel Gibson, Tom Cruise.)

To answer that second question, however, gets a little trickier. For those who still believe the movie star exists, it comes down to simple dollars and cents–how much does the actor or actress bring in at the box office — while others see it as famous people who haven’t tainted their image because of their pristine personal lives (Tom Hanks) or have a built-in brand of movies that will likely draw audiences no matter what (Johnny Depp, Will Smith.)

Still, that is a crop of stars who have been around for quite some time. While this generation has been lucky enough to grow up with plenty of talented other A-listers like Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet, and the, late, great Heath Ledger, who left an immeasurable void in Hollywood, I couldn’t help but ask the question of, “Does this generation — my generation — have any stars to claim for their own?”

The uber-popular celebrities in the 2000s were sacred for many, but equally maligned for just as many others (the “Twilight” and “High School Musical” kids), while those who possessed a genuine talent, had too much of a reluctance of their fame for us to want to get attached to them (Jesse Eisenberg, Ellen Page.) Perhaps the worst offenders were those who had the combination of mass sex appeal, buzz, and genuine hits to make them into our generations movie stars, but didn’t have the self-control (Lindsay Lohan) or humility (Shia LaBeouf) to actually make it happen. It seemed, for some time, we were going to be an era without a crop of talent to call our own.

Then, like a beacon of hope in the form of enviable abdominal muscles and faux ginger hair, came our saviors: Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone. Sure, it’s not as though the two, who star in this weekend’s romantic comedy “Crazy, Stupid, Love,” are coming out of the gate and suddenly surprising everyone with their charms, good looks, and knack for effortless acting (he is already an Oscar-nominee for his work in the gritty drug drama “Half Nelson” and she has settled nicely into her role as a female comedic voice in film, thanks to flicks like “Easy A”) but the vehicle serves as a reminder that they really are, finally, ours to brag about.

In “Crazy, Stupid, Love,” Gosling plays Jacob, a rich Lothario who falls for Hannah, Stone’s character, a headstrong law student who sees through his act. Left in the hands of other young stars, the storyline could have felt contrived or downright predictable, but both actors, who have scorching chemistry to boot, never make the blooming love story feel inauthentic. In one of the movie’s best moments, Gosling and Stone’s characters spend the night talking and getting to know one another. The scene never feels gimmicky or with forced sentimentality and, in turn, the audience falls in love with their falling in love.

Then again, if you’re familiar with Gosling and Stone’s body of work, you’ve been falling for sometime. Gosling, 30, who got his start alongside fellow stars like Justin Timberlake and Christina Aguilera on the Mickey Mouse Club has managed to shed the teen heartthrob image (though, not entirely, due to the massively popular 2004 romance flick “The Notebook”) and, thanks to some major indie cred, become the most promising actor to come along in, well, ages. Gosling’s essential movies — the aforementioned “Half Nelson,” as well as “Lars and the Real Girl,” “The Believer,” and “Blue Valentine” (arguably his best performance to date as a broken man trying to survive love in the tough, true-to-life drama)–all have one common thread: He transforms entirely into these rich, complicated characters. You’re watching Gosling, but you never actually see him.

But, it’s not just the talent that solidifies Gosling’s spot as our go-to guy. Rarely the subject of tabloid fodder, Gosling has managed to keep his personal life — even including a high-profile romance with ex Rachel McAdams — separate, but without being a Hollywood recluse. While promoting “Crazy, Stupid, Love,” Gosling made the rounds to talk shows and did what so few stars do in the midst of a press tour: He had fun with it. From reenacting a scene from “Dirty Dancing” with Al Roker on the Today Show to bringing his Mohawk-ed pooch to Jimmy Fallon’s couch, it was evident that Gosling is a serious actor who doesn’t take himself very seriously.

She may not have the same stigma of dramatic actor attached to her the way Gosling does, but Stone, who is equally refreshing on-screen an in real life, has come up against her own challenges. The 23-year-old has spoken honestly and candidly about the pressure on women her age in Hollywood to look a certain way (Stone refreshingly shot from the hip when she criticized fad diets to Vanity Fair and carries the burden of being the funniest female on the big screen. Still, she’s handled that pretty well thus far thanks to her Golden Globe-nominated turn as a wrongly accused high school slut in last year’s “Easy A,” as well as holding her own in the boys club that was 2007’s “Superbad,” and kicking ass and taking undead names in 2009’s “Zombieland.”

Still, it seems as though all of this, including “Crazy, Stupid, Love,” is nothing more than the beginning for Gosling and Stone. A precursor of even more great things to come. In addition to this year’s “Drive,” Gosling has a bevy of exciting projects–mainstream and otherwise–including a remake of “Logan’s Run” and then opposite Sean Penn and Josh Brolin in “The Gangster Squad.” Stone is equally busy–this year especially–as she can be seen in three movies this summer, including “Friends with Benefits” and the highly anticipated adaptation of the bestseller “The Help.” Forgoing any unforeseen scandals or major casting missteps, neither of them are going anywhere any time soon, and that is the best news Hollywood– and a generation of jaded moviegoers–could have gotten in quite some time.

Perhaps the reason why “Crazy, Stupid, Love” could mark the turning point in their careers is not just because of their sweet, sexy storyline, but how much their characters echo why they are this generation’s greatest assets in the first place. Gosling plays a sickeningly handsome dude that all the ladies love and all the guys want to emulate (including co-star Steve Carell, who plays his ladies man apprentice) because both sides know there’s way more than what’s on the surface. Stone plays a woman that is both parts strikingly beautiful and attainable, with an attitude that is sweetly no-nonsense and has a throaty laugh that invites you to do just the same.

It seems Gosling and Stone may have just answered the biggest question of all: Where have you been all our lives?

Are you fans of Emma Stone or Ryan Gosling? Tell us why in the comments below or on Twitter or Facebook.

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Final Countdown

The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at IFC.com

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Rev Up

Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

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Give Back

Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

It’s the final countdown to Christmas and thanks to IFC’s movie marathon all Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, you can revel in classic ’80s films AND find inspiration for your last-minute gifts. Here are our recommendations, if you need a head start:

Musical Instrument

Great analog entertainment substitute when you refuse to give your kid the Nintendo Switch they’ve been drooling over.

Breakfast In Bed

Any significant other or child would appreciate these Uncle Buck-approved flapjacks. Just make sure you’re not stuck on clean up duty.

Cocktail Supplies

You’ll need them to get through the holidays.

Dance Lessons

So you can learn to shake-shake-shake (unless you know ghosts willing to lend a hand).

Comfy Clothes

With all the holiday meals, there may be some…embigenning.



Get even more great inspiration all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC, and remember…