Exactly how much goodwill does Steve Carell think he's floating on? Following up a small series of unlikely successes (The Office, The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Little Miss Sunshine) with the disastrous succession of Evan Almighty and this modest, middle-of-the-road trip called Dan in Real Life, Carell (and, presumably, his overzealous agent) seems to have all too quickly slipped on the banana peel of relative credibility toward that great chasm of modern comedy: warm-hearted grandma pictures.
In his latest failure, Carell stars as our titular Dan, a seemingly uptight local newspaper advice columnist/widowed father of three young girls who's as unlucky in love as he is nauseatingly likeable. Packing up the kids for an annual Nor'Eastern family reunion, sad-ass sack Dan shares a fleeting afternoon with Marie (Juliette Binoche), the dimensionlessly exotic bookstore patron of his dreams. Not at all predictably, Dan returns to the family cabin to find that the new love of his pathetic little life is in fact the latest conquest of his asshole younger brother, played appropriately (if not successfully) by Dane Cook.
As Dan's bids for his brother's irritatingly perfect girlfriend grow increasingly inappropriate, one begins to question just what all the fuss is about. I mean, sure, she's French, but come on— she's about as compelling as a fucking douche commercial. Meanwhile, Carell's familiar "so not funny, it's funny" charisma is put to the test throughout—stretching to such a degree that it's hard not to wonder whether the guy might actually not be funny.
So Steve, please tread lightly—and don't go thinking that The Office alone is going to save your ass if these embarrassing money-making forays of yours don't cash out. You haven't earned the right to alienate your pre-geriatric audience just yet.