Movies: Dan in Real Life
You're probably familiar with the phrase "romantic comedy," and all the baggage that term carries with it - the star-crossed lovers meeting, the "twist" that puts a schism in the relationship, and the resolution. You might have also heard the word "dramedy," a drama with some comedic elements. I assert that "Dan in Real Life," starring the ubiquitous Steve Carrell, is a romantic dramedy.
Carrell plays Dan, a widower who is raising three girls. While out and about, he meets Marie (a somewhat miscast Juliette Binoche), whom he is instantly smitten with. Unfortunately, Marie turns out to be the new girlfriend of Dan's brother, and a whole cavalcade of predictably awkward situations ensues - Dan and family at dinner, Dan and family playing football, etc.
The movie's directed by Peter Hedges (he wrote "What's Eating Gilbert Grape?"), but frankly, there's a whole lot of things wrong with it. The chemistry between Dan and Marie never feels quite right, for one thing - you just don't believe Dan would act like a complete jerk to his whole family for this woman. While there are some funny parts to lighten the mood, the normally likable Carrell feels a bit too sullen here, almost as if he was making a conscious attempt to separate himself from "Evan Almighty"-type silliness and overshot the mark.
In effect then, this is a romantic dramedy with a tepid romance, uninteresting drama, and sporadic comedy. Neat idea, I suppose, but it just doesn't add up.