A Shirtless Ryan Gosling Can Bring Bellevue to Its Knees

Jacob (Ryan Gosling) educates Cal (Steve Carell) on the art of picking up a woman.
The Dinner: Ahi tuna tacos and spicy salmon rolls at Joey's in Bellevue.

The Movie: Crazy, Stupid, Love at Lincoln Square Cinemas

The Screenplate: Meg Ryan is all it used to take to create a successful romantic comedy. Now it seemingly requires an all-star ensemble. Crazy, Stupid, Love certainly meets that requirement, but unlike, say, Valentine's Day, the actors play characters who actually have a purpose other than to help boost the star power of the film.

We first meet Cal Weaver (Steve Carell), a blissfully happy man who is thrown for a major loop when he asks his wife Emily (Julianne Moore) what she wants for dessert. Her answer: a divorce. Cal is so horrified that on the drive home, upon her further explaining that she is having an affair with her coworker David (Kevin Bacon), he hurls himself out of the car.

Cut to a crushed Cal airing his dirty laundry and downing cranberry vodkas at a sleek and stylish bar. His pathetic nightly appearances catch the attention of Jacob Palmer (Ryan Gosling), a charming bachelor who takes it upon himself to help the poor bastard return to the singles scene. Cal gets a makeover, courtesy of Jacob, and in a short matter of time is bedding countless women, including a sexy teacher named Kate, played by the always-magnetic Marisa Tomei. Meanwhile, Jacob meets Hannah (Emma Stone), a law-school student who scoffs at his pickup lines and shuts down the invitation back to his place. He is surprised and intrigued, and eventually becomes so smitten with Hannah that he begins to question whether he has actually helped or hindered Cal.

Crazy, Stupid, Love stands out in the rom-com genre because it features quality characters played by quality actors. Carell is obviously a master when it comes to playing an well-meaning middle-aged geek fumbling in love (see The 40-Year-Old Virgin). Moore makes the cheating wife a vulnerable figure whom it's hard to hate entirely. The super-cute Stone is fast becoming the star that Lindsay Lohan could've been had she not screwed up her life, and ever since The Notebook, Gosling is viewed by any female with a pulse as the most swoon-worthy dreamboat on the planet. Turns out he makes as good a player as he does a romantic.

There is the downside of a totally unnecessary side story--why do so many rom-coms do this?!--about Cal and Emily's son suffering the pains of unrequited love over his babysitter Jessica, played by Analeigh Tipton, whose prior claim to fame is placing third on Cycle 11 of America's Next Top Model. Moving along.

Were Crazy, Stupid, Love set in Washington, Joey's in Bellevue is the exact sort of place that Jacob would frequent. It comes off more like a hip nightclub than an actual restaurant. The waitresses are attractive and leggy, and even the most casual of plates--e.g., tacos--are presented in an aesthetically pleasing arrangement. Were a sharply dressed (or even better, shirtless) Jacob to saunter through, he would have his pick of the patrons. Sure, the Eastside might have a Hannah or two to refute his advances--but it's unlikely.

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