Given its conspicuous Late-November release date, and given the fact that Steve Carell is taking the now-cliche' comedian-seeking-an-Oscar career path, I figured Dan In Real Life was going to be a winter Oscar contender in the vein of "Little Miss Sunshine" or "Sideways." So that's what I prepared myself for going into it.
Well, frankly, it's not an Oscar contender, but it's pretty damn good nonetheless.
Think of it as one of the better date movies you'll see this year, instead. Steve Carell plays an advice columnist who finds himself in an awkward situation at a family reunion. Hilarity ensues. Yeah, yeah, I know, it doesn't sound like much of a storyline, but it's decent, trust me.
There is an early plot twist thrown in, a lot of mildly-to-very funny moments, and just enough heart to leave you feeling all warm and squishy inside. But not enough heart to bring tears to your eyes, which is why Oscar will just give this movie a polite smile and slight head-nod as it passes it by on its way to weightier late-year fare. It's cliche', predictable, and at times almost ridiculously simple-minded, but it's a DATE MOVIE; that's what date movies are SUPPOSED to be.
Steve Carell is on his usual game, but doesn't do anything overly spectacular. (That's ok though; Steve Carell on his game is always entertaining enough.) The only other performance I can even remember enough to comment on is Dane Cook's adequate turn as Steve Carell's brother. He's nothing spectacular, either, but I guess it's good to see that he can supply a warm body to play "The Brother" in any other date movies Hollywood might want to make in the future. You can never have enough character actors.
I give Dan in Real Life a 6 on a scale of 1 to 10, mostly because it made me smile in the end. Smiling's good, right?