Steve Carell swaps virginity for family values in this charming, sharp-witted rom com that never has to try too hard for laughs. His latest incarnation is Dan, an overprotective dad with three daughters, who writes a family advice column but can't seem to follow his own rules. Not least when, en route to visit his family for Christmas, he falls for the beguilingly beautiful - but not quite single - Annie (Juliette Binoche), who appears to be the woman of his dreams.
Naturally the path of true love never runs smoothly and Dan is shocked when he unexpectedly bumps into Annie at his parents' house, only to discover that - surprise surprise - she's dating his brother. Director Hedges' screenwriting credits include the wry heart-warming comedies About A Boy and What's Eating Gilbert Grape - and a similar feel-good factor is present here. But while the premise may not be the most original, the film's warmth, witty script and engaging performances make it an wonderfully uplifting experience, much like Carell's previous vehicle, indie hit Little Miss Sunshine.
"IMPECCABLE COMIC TIMING"
Once again Carell shows he is no one trick pony as he moves effortlessly between displays of emotional vulnerability, fits of simmering anger to, er, swivelling his hips like a loon. But it's the unlikely chemistry between Binoche and Carell coupled with Carell's impeccable comic timing (watch out for the shower scene) that keeps you glued to the screen. Assisted by brilliant supporting performances including Dianne Wiest as his overbearing mother, Dan In Real Life is impossible not to like.
Dan In Real Life is out in the UK on January 11th 2008.