When his wife (Julianne Moore) dumps him, meek cuckold Steve Carell is schooled in the art of dating by Ryan Gosling's super-smooth serial seducer. Bad Santa writers Glenn Ficarra and John Requa deliver a sharp, sassy directorial debut pinging with one-liners and boasting the funniest farce scene of the decade. Marisa Tomei almost steals the show as a cougarish schoolteacher while Carell and Gosling reveal a fizzing comedy chemistry.
Mild-mannered hubbie Cal Weaver (Carell) must be hoping that his wife Emily (Moore) has six degrees of separation from predatory colleague Kevin Bacon. Unfortunately, she hasn't.
Bacon zeroes in on Cal's vulnerable childhood sweetheart and mother of his three kids, leaving the sad sack with no choice but to move out to a bachelor pad.
Repairing to a hottie-crammed style bar to drown his sorrows, he's spotted by Jacob (Gosling), a sharp-suited sexual predator who takes it upon himself to school him in the dark arts of the serial seducer.
After a faltering start and a crash course in dressing to kill (Jacob snaps at him to 'be better than The Gap"), Cal, erm, cracks it and, after picking up Marisa Tomei's feral cougar Kate, starts racking up a series of conquests.
However, he still remains committed to Emily, even going to the lengths of nocturnal trips to his old house to water the lawn and tidy up the flower beds.
Things might even be going his way again when a rapprochement is reached with Emily at a parent-teacher evening...only for his son's English teacher to turn out to be Kate.
Scriptwriters Glenn Ficarra and John Requa effortlessly make the switch to the director's chair with a slick, sweet-natured comedy that glides alongs, greased by a sharp-witted script from Dan Fogelman.
Carell ploughs an effectively familiar furrow as the married man in crisis while Gosling is a revelation as the smooth-talking swordsman who finds his sordidly empty pursuit stymied by true love.
There's also the premier farcical comedy scene of the year where a shock revelation launches practically the whole cast into a slapstick car crash of wrongheaded assumptions. In Cal's garden.
Only in the last reel does Hollywood schmaltz leach into what has been a splendldly bitter-sweet romantic saga. Yet it's still one of the funniest films of the year.