Love is crazy. Love is stupid. Love is love. If you don’t agree with any of these statements, then this movie just isn’t for you. If your awaiting some kind of further elaboration on what these statements mean, this film is not for you either. This film is solely for people who are romantic to a fault, yet roll their eyes at their own romanticism in an attempt to still appear intelligent.
It’s been too long since I did a male midlife crisis film. It’s also been too long since I made Love, Actually. This really isn’t my ballpark, to be honest. Making romantic comedies for men is a task that takes me away from all my natural male instincts. I succeed simply by asking myself what I would do and having my main character do the exact opposite.
Steve Carell plays Cal Weathers. As we all know, the Carell family is Hollywood royalty. His grandpa played one of the Lollypop Guild, and his father won hearts over in Disney’s Pinocchio. This is Steve’s latest attempt to take his place in the family’s legacy of playing old man/little boy hybrids.
Cal Weathers is a bumbling bore whose wife cheats on him and wants a divorce. Instead of getting mad when she tells him, he just jumps out of their car while it’s driving. Cal is such a massive pussy that he’s actually capable of magical feats of bravery.
Now that he’s a bachelor, Cal starts hanging out at a bar called “Ladies Only,” where he drinks coca-cola and loudly complains about his divorce to everyone. This gets the attention of the bar’s owner, Jacob Palmer, played by Ryan Gosling. And like with this article, the movie doesn’t actually pick up until this point.
Ryan Gosling is a pretty interesting actor. According to the tradition of occupation-derived last names, Gosling’s great-grandfather was a baby goose, and you can really see it. Along with Carell, Gosling looks like a little boy magically shoved into an adult body. He even sounds like a kid when he talks. Not because his voice his high, but because his nose appears to be deeply compacted with snot. You can barely understand him, but you definitely pick up on some pre-ball drop whininess.
His character is pretty odd, too. At first he’s totally charming and on the level. But then you start thinking about how he started a club just to hit-on and take home the same twelve women over and over again, and it’s a little weird. On top of that, there’s one part in an elevator where he stomps a guy’s head in way longer than necessary, and maybe even cries while doing it. I’m not sure. It could have been sweat.
He takes a shining to Cal and does the movie thing where a boring old guy learns to look like an exciting hot guy, but he complains the whole time. Gosling shows Cal that dressing in a bunch of baggy, formless clothes makes him look like a Juggalo, and he needs to switch to many layers of tighter clothes that accentuate his complete lack of neck. So now, instead of looking like a little boy, he looks like a rich little boy on his first day of school. But as we all remember, those kids really did get laid a lot.
With his shiny new duds, Cal goes back to the bar and tries to hit on women by being mean to them like Gosling. This works, and he ends up having sex with all of Gosling’s harem. He even lands one lady who wasn’t hired by Gosling, a hyper-kisser played by Marisa Tomei. But even with all this sex and a great new best friend, Cal is still sad about his wife.
See, his wife is Julianne Moore. The guy she’s fucking is Kevin Bacon, and he’s a really nice guy. Even though Cal looks hot now, he still needs to convince his wife that he’s worth going back to because, while she still loves him, it’s always hard to part with a fat slab of Bacon. She needs to be sure Cal is not going to just get boring again in another 25 years. So she spends most of the film going back and forth between Cal and Bacon, waiting until the war is over to choose a side. No one asks her to improve because that would be sexist.
Honestly, this is already more movie than I’m comfortable with, but Hollywood mandates demand I shove in a full half hour of cute kid stuff, too.
So Cal has this kid, played by Little Man Tate’s brother, Smaller Man Lorenz. His name is Robbie, and he’s totally in love with his babysitter. Unfortunately for him, his babysitter is totally in love with Cal, even before Gosling teaches him to be hot, which means her love is actually more sincere than Julianne Moore’s. To sum up this story’s arc, the film begins with the babysitter walking in on Robbie masturbating to her and being horrified by it, but ends with the babysitter handing Robbie a photo of her fully naked body. Love is a beautiful thing.
Hollywood mandate also dictates that, while one man can find himself through womanizing, womanizers must also settle down at some point. Therefore, Gosling’s character ends up falling in love with a single mother whose husband is in prison. Her name is Hannah, and in keeping with the film’s themes, she also looks like a prepubescent child shoved into an adult body. You know her love with Gosling is real because instead of having sex, they just talk a lot. Plus, he’s really nice to her kid.
This causes a lot of problems because (spoiler alert!) it turns out that Hannah is Cal’s daughter. Once Cal realizes this, he turns on his new best friend and forbids his daughter to see him, not just because he’s a notorious womanizer but also because he’s a superhero getaway driver sometimes.
This all blows up in a three-way elevator fight between Cal, Gosling, and Kevin Bacon which ends, as I said before, with Kevin Bacon getting his head stomped in. Because Cal is involved with the murder, he has to let the Gosling-Hannah romance go through. At first he’s upset. But after seeing how in love they really are, he begins to warm up to their pairing.
Having helped kill someone also gives Cal the final confidence boost he needs to win his wife back. Though she’s not all-the-way convinced at first, their union solidifies forever when they team up to kill Marisa Tomei, who has been stalking them both since Cal slept with her.
So that’s it. Everyone’s in love, and everyone’s happy. This film is three hours long.