A middle aged couple gets to a point where their lives are a routine. They may be together still for the children or because it's familiar, but they are not together for love. The wife Emily, played by Julianne Moore, admits to being unfaithful to her husband Cal (Steve Carell), and that she wants out of the relationship. Meanwhile their adolescent son is learning about feelings of love, when he falls for his babysitter. She in turn is harboring feelings for Cal. Distraught by his wife's admission of infidelity and desire to be down with the marriage, Cal drinks away his sorrows. He meets a younger man, Jacob ( Ryan Gosling), who teaches Cal how to be a ladies man. Cal is launched into a world he never had a chance to experience. In turn he unknowingly teaches Jacob about the happiness that real love can bring you. Jacob starts to turn his life around from meaningless sex to the idea of settling down with Hannah, played by Emma Stone. Hannah has just left a relationship she thought was headed towards marriage, and seeks out Jacob for a casual relationship she never allowed herself before. And Emily tries to move on, dating the man she had the affair with, David (Kevin Bacon).
This movie proves that love doesn't make sense. Hannah has put her time into her relationship with the idea of wedding bells on the horizon, and immediately after she leave that relationship, she finds a man to love. Jessica, the babysitter, is in love with an older man. She is so desperate for his attention that she will do anything to make him see her as a woman. Robbie, the son, is so crazy about Jessica that he repeatedly make a fool of himself. Emily is so confused about what she wants, she thought she knew, but being apart from Cal shows her what her heart really wants. Jacob learns how to love by teaching a man how to be a bachelor. And Cal learns that he can have meaningless relations with dozens of women, but his heart will always belong to that one woman he loves. If you ever think that how crazy or how stupid love makes you is worth it, this movie will remind you that it is.