I hated this movie. If I were not planning to write a review, I probably would have walked out. Maybe I should have, anyway. I barely even know where to begin listing things that were offensive to me.
The basic plot is what it appears to be from the previews; a married couple is getting divorced because the wife, (Emily/Julianne Moore), cheated, then poor pathetic ex-husband, (Cal/Steve Carell), gets styled and trained in the art of womanizing by a professional ladies man, (Jacob/Ryan Gosling), that he meets at a bar. There actually isn’t anything more to the relationship between Jacob and Cal than that. It’s very random and the script doesn’t provide enough motivation for them to suddenly be hanging out like besties for the rest of the movie. Meanwhile Cal’s son is in the love with the babysitter, the babysitter is in love with Cal, and Jacob finds himself falling in love with the one and only chic that rejects him the entire movie, (Hannah/Emma Stone).
No doubt the people behind this product thought they were being terribly clever, showing all sorts of ways love can make you crazy and stupid. Well, at least the got the stupid and crazy part right. But lust was confused with love in many of the storylines, and the crazy/stupid spilled into the friendships and even parental relationships.
Because there is so much I hated about this movie, and I am already upset to have wasted the time just to watch it, I’m reducing this review to bullet lists. Here are the negative messages:
- Masturbation is hilarious. right? So much so, let’s keep referring to it!
- A “friend” tells Hannah her life is “so PG-13”, which is meant to be an insult. Will somebody please explain to me why this makes sense?
- Divorce can be hilarious!
- Jacob is so charming because he’s so mean, I guess. Isn’t is hilarious to watch him shred everything about Cal apart with criticism? But he’s helping him learn to be “cooler”, so it makes him good, right?
- Clothing labels are important, even for guys. Oh don’t worry about the cost, just raise the ol’ debt ceiling on the credit card!
- The “friend” ridicules Hannah’s boyfriend, and her response to Hannah’s confession that she thinks he might propose is basically “Ew! You should sleep with the ladies man instead!” What kind of “friendship” is this?! This is not supportive, nor is it healthy.
- Jumping into bed with someone you don’t know is a great way to get over a relationship you’ve just exited. Seriously, even if it’s only been 20 minutes.
- Classic literature is so stupid! English class in general is stupid! Mother dearest scoffs, to her son when she learns they are “still” required to read The Scarlet Letter, “You’d think somebody would have written something better by now.”
- Parental controls on the internet don’t really work, haha! (helpful hint: it might not be the controls that aren’t effective if your reaction as a parent to your son telling you about what he googles is to laugh.)
- Cal says that the way Jacob is teaching him to manipulate women is “a big game, creepy creepy little game.” Unfortunately this is a “light bulb moment” where he finally masters the craft and not a “light bulb moment” where he becomes disgusted with himself and what they are doing.
- Women are so stupid, to keep falling for these tricks to get them into bed! Jacob and Cal actually have a conversation about this, about how stupid the girls they get are. Maybe it is supposed to be contrasting these shallow pursuits with the women they actually love who have intelligent things to say, but it just serves to show how little respect they have for their conquests. (Zero. They have zero respect.)
- A teenage girl takes naked pictures of herself to send to her crush, at the terrible advice of a classmate. This is a trend that is actually occurring in society right now, and kids are being arrested for transmitting these images, because it’s child porn! Does this movie want to tackle asking what we can do to stop this or how parents should react if their child is in the middle of it? Nope! Hahaha, why would you want to actually talk to your children about anything? If you find out about disturbing behavior on their part, wouldn’t you rather go yell at someone else and blame them then spend two minutes trying to understand what motivated your 17-year-old to think this was a good idea? This was one of the most disturbing subplots for me, particularly the way it ultimately ended; that wasn’t funny, that was sick.
The only positive things about this movie are:
- Despite making light-hearted jokes about divorce in the beginning, the movie accurately portrayed what long-lasting emotional trauma there was for all involved.
- A certain turn of events would hopefully give audience members pause to reflect on the fact that each of these women that Jacob and Cal are cycling through like sticks of chewing gum are somebody’s daughter, and they deserve better.
- Cal has a couple of good lines, especially when he tells his estranged spouse, “I got lazy, I got boring, and I’m so mad at you for what you did but I’m mad at myself, too. ‘Cuz I shoulda never have jumped out of that car, [which he did when she told him about her affair and asked for a divorce], I should have fought for you.”
Those messages are simply not enough to make the rest of the viewing worth it. If movies are food, as the “Digest Movies” metaphor of this site suggests, then this one gave me a serious case of indigestion. I would not recommend it to anyone.