Dan in Real Life Review
“Seeing Steve Carell In A Quasi-normal Role Is Surprising, Though He Doesn't Do Much To Boost The Overall Integrity Of The Story.”
February 19th, 2010
Most people are familiar with Steve Carell from "The Office" where he's an obnoxious jackass to all his subordinates, but all fans of his would certainly be surprised if they saw him here. Considering that A) his role doesn't at all resemble his 'Michael Scott, and B) he's not hyperactive, rather remaining very low key all the way through, making for an interesting performance.
Dan Burns (Steve Carell) is a depressed father of three from New Jersey. He's a recent widow, has met no new girlfriends, and is letting this get the better of him despite the company of his three children. When attending a family reunion at his parents' (Diane Wiest & John Mahoney) secluded house in Rhode Island, he meets Maria (Juliette Binoche) whom be believes to be the girl he's always wanted to meet, only to find out that she's engaged to his brother Mitch (Dane Cook). What ensues is a depressing series of attempts to further entangle himself with Marie, despite that she's engaged. Given that he doesn't care about much of anything, he himself becomes somewhat of a jerk towards his brother and three children; the latter whom he lectures about love, whilst contradicting everything about it that he says within mere moments of saying them. So while we are supposed to be feeling for this guy, the situation seems a bit too typical of weeknight sitcoms, thus making it harder for us to care that much. And with no real subplot with any substance, then it becomes harder to be intrigued by anything is this film besides Steve Carell's much different role.
Dane Cook was surprisingly toned down from his usual humor as well, for rather than being an obnoxious loudmouth that people would pay to see, he's the happy go lucky brother who's dated everyone in the book, and treats each 'relationship' like it's just another fling, thus making the engagement seem out of character. Though once again, we've seen this before in sitcoms, with the exception that the family likes the spouse to be, much to one person's dismay, whom is usually someone close to the one in the family that's to be married, in this case, they're brothers. So the typicality of this storyline makes no room for surprises besides the toned down performances from the two brothers. Especially Steve Carell who'd probably become more likeable if he took on more roles like this.
Given the above reasons, they probably explain why they only made a 172% profit off the film. For a comedy costing $25mil, that doesn't seem like much. Though given the leads, then I suppose it may not surprise many. Point being that this film was more like a TV movie, minus the overly serious tone that all of them carry. So if you're not suckers for this stuff, then pass on it, unless you're a fan of Steve Carell, in which case you'll be pleasantly surprised.