For the Gents, the ultimate transformation scene comes straight out of Crazy, Stupid, Love because it is TOO relevant to style fauxpas that modern men fall into. It brutally captures what Jonathan Van Ness said in Queer Eye Season 3:
“When your best look is fresh out of bed Sasquatch, it is not inspiring for your lady. At all.”
Jonathan Van Ness
Our first impression of Steve Carrell’s Calvin is jarring, to say the least. From the freeze frame of those god awful white New Balances to a full body shot of him at dinner with his wife Emily, we are prepped to not be surprised she wants a divorce. Cal didn’t look like a sasquatch, but he does look like he gave up ages ago.
It did look like taking care of everything else was a higher priority than taking care of himself. Like the pressures of life bore down on him so hard that even dessert was a difficult decision.
While the whole movie is relevant for various reasons, the transformation scene is what we are talking about here. After getting called out by Jacob (Ryan Gosling) for being a fun sucker wallowing in self pity, he offers to rehabilitate Cal’s image and make Cal’s ex-wife rue the day she ever left him.
“What do you mean? They’re my 407s...they offer a lot of support.”
Calvin Weaver – A.K.A. Steve Carrell
The opening seconds of Cal’s transformation scene begins with a slow pan towards Gosling’s Jacob, in a power stance nonchalantly eating some Sbarro’s (a little nod to Carrell’s favorite New York pizza joint). This enigma is rocking a black suit with brown belt and shoes (talk about embracing your neutrals). Polished. Confident. Simultaneously playing by and breaking the rules.
Question 1: Sbarros?
Question 2: How much money do you have to spend on clothes?
Question 3: What happened to your feet?
Cal’s reply: “What do you mean? They’re my 407s...they offer a lot of support.”
To be clear, no one should know what 407s are or wear New Balances… not even Steve Jobs. Unless your podiatrist orders it but even then, maybe not. Luckily, Jacob is there to launch them down to hell where they belong. We are left with an understanding that bare feet are literally better than 407s. Jacob lets Cal (and the audience) in on a little secret; “One of the best parts about being a guy your age… is that you can rebuild your wardrobe with like 16 pieces.” Later on during this transformation scene there is a velcro wallet. I’m not even going to get into that.
I can understand how Jacob’s character may seem narcissistic, materialistic, and hedonistic at this point (it’s a plot point), but the line he delivers to end this scene even the Fab Five agree with;
One of the best things transformational movies and series do is show the power of a new haircut, outfit, or pair of shoes in elevating one’s mood. They also show that change is constant, change doesn't have to be a bad thing, and clothing can enhance confidence in yourself enabling you to be the best version of yourself. In Crazy, Stupid, Love, Cal’s style makeover gives him the confidence he lost to repair his relationship with his wife.
“You lost sight of who you are… as a man, as a husband, and probably as a lover.”
For Jacob, style is a type of self preservation that allows him to hide his insecurities and fear of being vulnerable. He viewed people in love and, the way they behaved, as pathetic -- including Cal. After meeting and falling in love with Emma Stone’s Hannah, he realizes all he really wants is to be in love and in a stable relationship triggering the beginning of his own internal transformation. This is reflected by the more relaxed and open way he interacts with everyone (and by the first fight with David Lindhagen because he caused Cal a lot of pain). This transformation is visually represented by his perfectly tailored suits giving way to more casual shirts and sweaters -- a brilliant reflection on the part of the costume designer and director.
To be extremely clear, I think that everyone is susceptible to getting lost in the day to day pace in this rat race we call life. I think everyone can forget to take care of themselves because they are too busy taking care of other people. The Fab Five have been able to bring this issue to light in the new Queer Eye series on Netflix and I think it is a very cleansing and cathartic perspecitve to be exposed to. Most importantly, once you realize you may have fallen into this pit, you can pull yourself out of it. It doesn't have to be with clothes, but if you look good, you inherently feel good, and that makes you want to do good things for others so they can feel good too. Be inspiring for your partner and to others.