Desperately Seeking an Everyman
Yabroff, Jennie, Newsweek
Byline: Jennie Yabroff
Steve Carell is stepping into the kinds of roles that made tom hanks famous.
It was once easier to make a career out of playing nice guys. But when the Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts vehicle Larry Crowne face-planted at the box office this month, grossing just $15 million in its first weekend, critics posited that it's increasingly difficult to buy Hanks, the prototypical Nice Guy, as a romantic lead--setting off the race for someone else to take his crown.
Enter Steve Carell, who's shedding his self-deluded stereotype from The Office to carve out a career as a bankable leading man. In Crazy, Stupid, Love (out July 29), he takes a classic Tom Hanks-ian role and makes it just slightly dangerous. Carell infuses his comedy with a subtle, sad-eyed melancholy, while he brings a note of lightness and optimism to his darker roles. Says Crazy, Stupid, Love codirector John Requa, "Steve is in that Tom Hanks, Jimmy Stewart, Jack Lemmon category. He seems to invite sympathy, so you're always on his side."
Carell begins as an uninspiring character, Cal, the kind of guy who's been married so long he doesn't even realize he's stopped listening to his wife (Julianne Moore) years ago. In dorky white tennis shoes and baggy mom jeans, he is completely unprepared to be thrown back into the dating pool when his wife announces she wants a divorce. …