I much prefer to see Steve Carell as inept office managers or 40-year-old virgins, and not as the depressed, widowed father of three he plays in “Dan in Real Life.” He’s not terrible as a dramatic actor, but the material plays nowhere near his strengths.
Dan is a newspaper advice columnist who “ irony alert! “ could use some advice of his own. En route to a remote cabin for an all-family get-together, he meets an enchanting woman (Juliette Binoche, “Chocolat”) in a bookstore and immediately falls in love. Back at the cabin, he’s introduced to the new girlfriend of his obnoxious brother (comedian Dane Cook, “Good Luck Chuck”). Guess who it could be!
Although harmless, the movie has nowhere to go. It kind of just meanders and kind of just ends, hammering home ham-fisted life lessons, greeting-card homilies and false sentiment all the way.
The worst thing about it “ and this is saying a lot, given the repellent Cook’s appearance in the cast “ is the unbelievable portrayal of the family. Numbering more than one can count, its members all get along, do everything together (including going to bed at the same time) and stage elaborate talent shows for themselves. Only in the movies.