What can you expect from Glen Ficarra and John Requa - the same guys who gave you Bad Santa, Cats & Dogs, The Bad News Bears (with legendary Walter Matthau)? Well, great comedy, for starters with an envious ensemble cast! We love a triangle, especially when the exes meet, throwing the ‘other’ off the marital bandwagon…the movie does a great job of taking a clichéd plot and sprucing it up with “how to”- tips (good for the goose, great for the gander).
“Twenty-five years of marriage and you have nothing to say…” well more than half the married population on Earth doesn’t find that surprising! But what comes next, the bit about having slept with someone and that this wondrous revelation comes from Emily (the wife, played by Julianne Moore, 9 Months, Hannibal) - does prompt Cal (the husband, played by Steve Carell, Evan Almighty) to throw himself off the moving car-that makes the requisite statement! And while Emily seeks solace in the arms of David (the suave lover, Kevin Bacon, Foot Loose, A Few Good Men) because of ‘ how broken we are’, Carl weeps in the washroom at the news of the divorce, and chooses to deal with the heartbreak by downing a few.
Enter Jacob Palmer (Casanova extraordinaire, Ryan Gosling, Remember the Titans, The Notebook) who decides to take Cal under his wing, gives him lessons in footwear, (although he does wonder whether he should help him or euthanize him) and actually gets lands him his first success-Kate (Marisa Tomei, What Women Want).
Amidst all the adults trying to find their bearings is Robbie (son, John Bobo, Choke, Disconnect) who wants nothing more than for his parents to get back together, drops not-so subtle hints to David with regard to how he feels about him dating Robbie’s Mom.
No matter whether you’re separated or divorced- PTAs are a family thing, boring, made interesting if one of the parents is sleeping with the teacher- in this case, Kate (from the bar, to the bedroom, to the school) confesses to Emily that Cal and she have had an affair. Now that bit of news hits Emily hard, throwing her in David’s arms, in earnest.
Muddled marriages aren’t the only thing on offer- even our singles are part of ‘tangled web’. Jacob, despite his debonair ways had earlier faced rejection from Hannah (pretty law school graduate, Emma Stone, Ghosts of Girlfriends Past) but now the lady has herself been left high & dry- she channels all her energy and throws it into a passionate kiss –at the receiving end of which is Jacob, and despite sex on the cards- all they do is talk the night away.
The prospect of love seems to be cruising around celluloid and at some point is bandied about a bit much….that is the crazy, stupid part of the movie. We finally get to the bit when Cal does chose to be in sight of the man he is, and woo Emily, happily supported by Robbie, their son. But stranger things have been known to happen- the plot thickens, when Hannah, it turns out to be- is Cal and Emily’s firstborn! And the fact that she is dating Jacob, gets the ‘dad’ in Cal all riled up!
As Cal turns his ire into a punch- David arrives and now the 3 men have a punch out- joined in by the irate parent of a 17 year old babysitter, whose naked pics were in Cal’s drawer -and it takes the police to end things. A year later, as Robbie expresses doubts about love on the day of his graduation, Cal reaffirms his own contentment with having known Emily and the years of happiness they shared, despite the fragility of such divine moments in the light of life’s ups and downs. And even though he firmly believes that Jacob does not deserve Jessica, there are no hard feelings there- just a sense of admiration on the part of Jacob, for Cal being a great dad.
Movie is typically a ‘romcom’- a genre that’s existed for eternity, but has only now been tagged under a silly nomenclature. Despite the apparent simplicity of the plot, it has its moments of “huh, what?” Which perhaps explains the B+ ratings, like the LA Times put it beautifully (the movie)"…conjures up the bittersweet magic of first loves, lasting loves, lost loves and all the loves in between".