Dan in Real Life
Directed by Peter Hedges (PG-13)

A widower falls for his brother’s girlfriend.


Dan in Real Life “never feels real at all,” said Connie Ogle in The Miami Herald. Director Peter Hedges departs from the offbeat, dysfunctional families that treated him so well in films such as What’s Eating Gilbert Grape? and Pieces of April. They are replaced by advice columnist Dan Burns (Steve Carell), his idyllic family, and their postcard-perfect Rhode Island beach house. Dan, a widowed father of three girls, falls for his brother’s girlfriend (Juliette Binoche). In other words, underneath the L.L. Bean wardrobe, all-American pancake breakfasts, and touch-football games that call to mind Hyannisport, Dan in Real Life is just your average sitcom. Hedges understands family life, said Kirk Honeycutt in The Holly­wood Reporter. He has a knack for assembling “multiple stories that give you a big, chaotic mess within which smaller, intimate moments of tenderness or romance can exist.” With charm and affection, Carell and Binoche show us two people who “fall madly in love in a situation where no one else can be aware of their passion.” But like so many familyfriendly comedies, the film can only muster “wan, forgettable dialogue and predictable situations,” said Claudia Puig in USA Today. It’s “entertaining enough,” but you’re better off watching Carell in The Office.