Dan in Real Life
Posted on March 10, 2008 at 6:00 pm
No one is better than Steve Carell at playing clenched. In “Dan in Real Life,” he plays a character so clenched he just about levitates off the ground. Dan is an advice columnist and a single parent. He cares for his three daughters. He provides warm and witty counsel to the lonely hearts who write in for help. But his own lonely heart feels like it has been on hold for four years, since his wife died. Dan is holding on to what he has left as hard as he can; a little too tightly, according to the two older daughters. He is not quite ready to let Jane (Alison Pill) drive. And he is not even close to ready to let 15-year-old Cara (Brittany Robertson) have a boyfriend, even one who calls him “sir.” It’s as if he lets go of them, if he lets go of anything, he might experience another devastating loss. So, he subsists on tight smiles and denial, tossing off a few gentle wisecracks to try to pretend to the girls and to himself that everything is just fine.