Dan in Real Life

November 22, 2008 - Real life gets messy for Steve Carell when he unknowingly falls for his brother's girlfriend. Juliette Binoche, Dane Cook, Dianne Wiest and John Mahoney also star.

Carell plays Dan, a newspaper advice columnist in New Jersey. He's also a widower raising three daughters. They set off for an annual family gathering at the family's vacation home in New England. One morning, Dan heads to the local bookstore where he meets Marie (Binoche). When Dan gets back to the house, he meets Marie again and is stunned to learn that she's dating his younger, less mature brother (Cook). The rest of the movie follows Dan as he struggles to find a balance between his own feelings for Marie and his feelings for his family.

Overall review: ** I give this movie a marginal recommendation based on the performance by Steve Carell. He plays Dan with a vulnerability and a likeability that makes you root for him. My main problem is that Dan is about the only fully-drawn character in the movie. We don't know much about the other characters except for their names. Even Marie is lacking background. We know that she is well-read and a world traveler, but how she got that way is never explained. We want Dan to end up with her but only because we want Dan to be happy. I'd be OK if Marie ended up with someone else as long as there was someone else for Dan, too.