Dan in Real Life
Rated PG-13; Directed by Peter Hedges; Starring Steve Carell, Juliette Binoche, Dane Cook, Alison Pill, Brittany Robertson, Emily Blunt
Dan in Real Life is a romantic-comedy that sets up a trite situation, but does so much more with it than most movies. It takes a smart script, good direction, and a clever cast to make a story about a man who falls in love with his brother’s sweetheart somehow feel new. It helps having Steve Carell playing the lead.
Dan (Carell), a widower, is raising three daughters and working as an advice columnist. On a big family weekend something surprising happens – he meets Marie (Juliette Binoche) at a bookstore and falls for her. He is then even more surprised to find out that she is his brother’s (Dane Cook) new girlfriend. The big family weekend gets very interesting and very funny. It doesn’t help that Dan is also having trouble with his teenage daughter Cara (Brittany Robertson in a wonderful performance) who has fallen madly in love with a schoolmate. Poor Dan also has to deal with the concern of his parents (Dianne Wiest and John Mahoney) and the rest of his family.
The humor sneaks up on you and you find yourself laughing at passionate teenage angst, bad barroom dancing, and awkward attempts to entertain young nieces and nephews. Even pancakes offer a laugh. Though some of the plot has predictable moments it takes interesting paths to get there. Carell is a perfect choice as Dan. His ability to be sarcastic mixes well with his sweetness. Binoche is fine as is the rest of the cast.
Seeing Dan in Real Life shouldn’t be missed. It is funny, sweet, and one of the better romantic-comedies in the last few years.