Calling all shoe fetishists! Glenn Ficarra and John Requa’s polished romantic roundelay opens in a chic Los Angeles restaurant with a clever montage of Muzak-scored footsie to summarize the game of love. Women’s sexy pumps tease men’s shiny wing tips, which practically bite back in leonine ecstasy. But there’s trouble underneath the table of fortysomething Cal Weaver (Steve Carell, nicely walking the line between sarcasm and sadsackery), whose dirty New Balances are at a distinct remove from the high heels of his agitated wife of a quarter century, Emily (Julianne Moore). It turns out divorce is the evening’s main course, something that launches the dating-inexperienced Cal into the intimidating world of singles bars.
But it’s not just his story: Working from a screenplay by Dan Fogelman, Ficarra and Requa (I Love You Phillip Morris) use Cal’s crisis as a jumping-off point to explore the romantic travails of a number of additional characters. These include the pickup artist (Ryan Gosling) who takes Cal under his wing and a lawyer-intraining (Emma Stone) who longs for her boyfriend to propose. The directors show a great talent for jagged-edged farce (let us now praise comedy MVP Marisa Tomei, all pointedly revealing fidget ’n’ fluster as an overly enthused one-night stand). So it’s especially disappointing when the story takes an inevitable turn to starry-eyed mush, dulling the sharp satire of the crazy, stupid ins and outs of romantic entanglement with an unconvincingly saccharine one-true- love-for-all moral.
By Time Out on August 04 2011 6.30pm