Dan in Real Lifeis a 2007 American comedy-drama film directed by Peter Hedges , starring Steve Carell and Juliette Binoche .
Dan Burns ( Steve Carell ) is a newspaper advice columnist, a widower, and a controlling father to his children Jane, Cara and Lilly in the New Jersey suburbs. His column is in contention to be syndicated nationally. The family takes a trip to the Rhode Island home of his parents ( Dianne Wiest and John Mahoney ) to visit his family—including his New York City -based brother, Mitch ( Dane Cook ), a personal trainer—for an annual family get together. Cara does not want to go, as she does not want to leave her boyfriend Marty ( Felipe Dieppa ) whom she claims to have fallen in love with in just three days. But Dan insists that it is not possible to fall in love in three days and makes her go. The morning after his arrival, Dan's mother encourages him to go into town for a bit to give his daughters some space. Dan visits a bookstore and a customer named Marie ( Juliette Binoche ) mistakes him for an employee. Dan and Marie have an obvious connection and continue to talk over breakfast. Marie agrees to meet with Dan again before leaving but tells Dan that she has a boyfriend. Dan returns to his parents' house and happily announces he has met someone new, only to find that Marie is there, her boyfriend being Dan's brother, Mitch.
Dan and Marie spend the majority of their time trying to deny their attraction to each other. Dan even agrees to a date with Ruthie Draper, a childhood friend of Dan and Mitch's who comes to visit and is now a surgeon. Cara's boyfriend shows up despite the long journey but is sent home by Dan. Cara chases the car and cries and calls out, "You are a murderer of love!" to Dan when Marty is out of sight. During a family talent show, Dan plays guitar while Mitch sings Pete Townshend 's " Let My Love Open the Door ." But Mitch forgets the words, and Dan steps in, serenading Marie in front of his brother. Marie is unable to continue to deny her feelings for Dan, and she breaks up with Mitch, which makes him distraught. Before leaving town, she calls Dan, and they meet at a bowling alley. After spending some time bowling, Marie and Dan end up kissing. At this point, Dan's family shows up at the bowling alley. Surprised and infuriated at Dan for his betrayal, Mitch punches Dan in the face and Marie runs out.
A short time later, Dan finally meets with a father and daughter who run the newspaper media company. His family sits in on the meeting. Lost at what he has experienced, the meeting turns awkward but unresolved. Dan talks to his daughters and admits he is in love with Marie, even though he has only known her three days. Encouraged by his parents and the three girls, he goes after Marie. The film ends with Dan and his three daughters in New York City where they find Marie at her gym and the two make eye contact, to a voiceover in which Dan narrates his first column to his readers, indicating that he indeed was chosen by the newspaper media company to have his column nationally syndicated.
The ending scene in the film shows Dan and Marie descending the steps of his parents' home and dancing following their wedding. Mitch is seen happily dancing with Ruthie Draper, and Cara is happily dancing with her boyfriend Marty.