Just back from taking Mom to see this at the Regal 12 in Ormond Beach. This 118-minute movie seemed awfully long to me, but I wouldn't say that the movie itself is awful. It is a modestly entertaining film. I suppose it is intended to be a comedy, but actually it struck me as more sad than funny.
Steve Carell and Julianne Moore play husband and wife, Cal and Emily. In the first scene, they are sitting in a restaurant when she tells him that she wants a divorce. She was his high school sweetheart, the only woman with whom he has ever been intimate, and they have kids and a bit suburban house, the whole thing. She just wants out. On the rebound, he finds himself in a pick-up bar, whining and complaining and basically turning off anybody with whom he speaks. A hot younger man named, Jacob, played by Ryan Gosling, an expert pick-up artist, decides to take him in hand and teach him how to "score" with women. A bit of modern "Pgymalian" ensues, and Cal is moderately successful – with unfortunate results. And the rest follows from there. I won't throw in any plot spoilers, but you know where this is going.
So it's an hour TV sit-com blown up into a two-hour movie. Young Jonah Bobo as Robbie, the lovelorn teenage son, practically steals the movie, except for the scene where Gosling brings an aggressive young woman home from the bar, she demands that he take off his shirt, and then says, "No, you are photoshopped." Yes, Gosling's upper body looks that good. For a minute there, shirtless Gosling steals the movie. But the kid reasserts his supremacy soon enough.
So, more mindless summer entertainment? Not quite mindless, as the movie does have a few serious points to make about relationships and being true to oneself, but they are such simplistic points that they don't really need this film to make them. Steve Carell seems to be playing his usual character here. Julianne Moore is always good in everything she does, and she fills the bill here. I guess apart from the kid I thought the most vigorous acting chops were on display from Marisa Tomei, in a bit part as a horny middle school teacher. The direction by Glenn Ficarra and John Requa is reasonably fast-paced, but I thought the overall concept was a bit strange, and there were a few scenes that I thought were flashbacks but turned out not to be – an editing problem, a script problem, or their idea of a startling plot twist? When things get sorted out near the end, you finally figure out why Josh Groban is listed in the cast…. From this, you would deduce that Dan Fogelman's script has its difficulties.
If you're tired of super-hero types and want a film about real people in surreal situations, this is the one.