Dan in Real Life (PG-13) 95 minutes B
About a Girl
Starring Steve Carell, Juliette Binoche, Dane Cook, Norbert Leo Butz, John Mahoney, and Dianne Wiest
With his second directorial effort, Iowa novelist and writer Peter Hedges brings us Dan in Real Life. A fluently understated romantic comedy that is subtly emotional and pleasantly entertaining. Dan (Steve Carell) is a parenting-advice writer and widower with three daughters. He is a likable and engaging character with a sense of pain and longing underneath the surface. Four years after his wife's death Dan is uptight, overprotective and struggling as a single parent.
Like all good love stories, love appears when you least expect it. Unsuspectingly Dan meets Marie (Julie Binoche) in a bookstore and it's instant chemistry. One of those moments when there is physical attraction, a smile, witty banter, and everything falls into place. Problem is, Dan doesn't know that the lovely french beauty he's flirting with is his brother's new girlfriend. Nevertheless Dan feels a romantic spark that he hasn't felt in years.
Julie Binoche is brilliantly casted as Marie; elegant, mature, smart, and witty. She is a perfect match for Dan, while Dane Cook seems oddly out of place as Mitch, Dan's brother. Emily Blunt has a scene stealing cameo as Ruthie "Pigface" Draper. But perhaps the best thing about Dan in Real Life is Steve Carell's comic restraint along with believable vulnerability. At times the film dabbles in cheesy and hokey family silliness, but ultimately this low key charmer is a winner.