Dan in Real Life


STARRING: Steve Carell, Juliette Binoche, Dane Cook

Falling in love: Binoche and Carell

Advice columnist Dan Burns (Carell) dispenses wisdom to the struggling while sorely needing support himself. Dan is a widower and the frazzled father of three take-charge girls, and Carell, who does up-against-it with homespun flair, makes him as likeable as all get-out. So it’s especially rough that the sensational woman (Binoche as Marie) who Dan meets at a bookshop while on a clan-gathering visit to his folks (Dianne Wiest and John Mahoney) in Rhode Island turns out to be the new girlfriend of his brother (Cook).


Trapped en famille — and they’re a rowdy bunch — in a luxe-rustic house, Dan is tormented by jealousy and behaves like a prat. It’s a very fine mess indeed. And that’s before his sex-bomb blind date (Emily Blunt) shows up.


This cast really knows its stuff, and director Peter Hedges, who co-wrote the screenplay with Pierce Gardner, wisely lets them strut it. Dan has its lighter side, but its heart beats most strongly as a love story riddled with irony, discovery, tenderness and the folly of playing it safe.