As the end credits roll on Dan in Real Life, I imagine most people will have roughly the same reaction -- a smile and a shrug. You won't be angry at yourself for watching it, but you'll be hard pressed to remember the thing in two weeks. It's a relentlessly average movie, packed full of "nice" moments but lacking a single great one.
Steve Carell stars as Dan, a widowed advice columnist trying to be a good father to his three daughters, well played by Alison Pill, Marlene Lawston, and a very funny Brittany Robertson. A widowed man raising his three daughters is also the premise of the old sitcom Full House, and the comparison isn't far off. These daughters are fleshed out a bit more than the Olsen twins, but the relationship beats feel the same -- forced, cutesy, a little tired.
Dan and the girls go to visit their extended family in a lakeside Rhode Island cottage. Dan takes a trip to the local bookstore, and in a very Woody Allen-esque scene, he meets and develops a crush on a woman named Marie (Juliette Binoche). There's a "falling-for-each-other" montage that doesn't really convince, Dan gets her number, and heads home to brag about his new "hottie" and meet the girlfriend of his brother (Dane Cook). Surprise surprise -- his hottie and the girlfriend are one and the same -- Marie. Cue the laugh track.