Who's In It: Steve Carrell, Ryan Gosling, Julianne Moore, Emma Stone, Jonah Bobo, Marisa Tomei, Kevin Bacon, John Carroll Lynch, Analeigh Tipton
The Basics: Cal (Carrell) and Emily (Moore) have been together nearly their entire lives and everything is perfect. Until, of course, Emily asks for a divorce out of the clear blue and tells Cal she's been unfaithful. He immediately moves out and catches the pity of the super smooth ladies' man Jacob (Gosling), who teaches him how to "reclaim his masculinity," which really translates into "sleep with a lot of chicks and get a haircut." The whole schmeer is about love, love, love, and what to do when you find it.
What's The Deal: Remember what it was like to fall in love for the first time? If you don’t, this winsome movie will remind you. Although it's imperfect in the fact that it feels like three different films mashed together, I still bought every piece of this movie hook, line, and sinker. The electricity between the movie's performers is tangible: I found myself rooting for Cal and Emily to get back together. I wanted Robbie (Bobo) to get his dream girl (Tipton) against all odds. And when Jacob falls for Hannah (Stone), I felt swept along with him.
Let's Talk Gosling: Ryan Gosling can do anything--sensitive romantic leads, dangerous criminal types, thoughtful educators. I'm guessing he can also fly and cure cancer. Here, he transcends the script. As the character is written, it seems peculiar that any woman would go home with him because he's a little skeezy. However, aside from his looks, he brings a subtle sweetness to the role that balances any creepiness, so you understand him falling for a nice girl. Three cheers for Young Hercules, you've done it again.
Love Actually Is All Around: Although I don't think the filmmakers achieved a seamless joining of stories, it felt like another favorite film of mine, Love Actually. The cast was so spectacular, and the subplots were just related enough that the big climax of the movie still worked. In fact, that was a fun moment to take a look at the audience. People were shocked and murmuring, and I was glad I wasn't the only one. I think the movie could have used a little bit more of the bittersweet, however, because that's one of the reasons that Love Actually is so endearing--not everything works out.
Missed Connections: Emily and Cal are the center of one of the most heartbreaking and sweet scenes I have seen in a long time. Watching these two seasoned professionals express what it's like to be in proximity to each other, yet worlds apart, brought the tears.