Dan in Real Life

Steve Carell waxes melancholic as a sad-sack widower, newspaper advice columnist, and father of three girls (each uniquely challenging) who meets a terrific woman at his family reunion — only to discover that she’s his brother’s girlfriend. Juliette Binoche plays the woman and Dane Cook the brother, so the moral choice here is really a no-brainer. The sweetener seems rather artificial in this bittersweet little confection, but at least that means fewer calories. On the other hand, a movie so harmless must somehow be harmful. At any rate, Carell and Binoche are great fun to watch, doing just what the movie requires (not much, as scripted by Pierce Gardner and director Peter Hedges) and then some. Also rounding out the generally non-threatening atmosphere are John Mahoney and Dianne Wiest (both strictly functional) as Carell and Cook’s parents, and a warmly raffish Sondre Lerche soundtrack.