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America's Movie Critics Hold Their Noses and Compliment Dane Cook

Courtesy of Touchstone Pictures

Though we like writer-director Peter Hedges — he wrote About a Boy, No. 6 on our list of the best single-artist soundtracks! — we did not have high hopes for Dan in Real Life, Hedges's new comedy starring Steve Carrell. The trailer just seemed kind of awful. Happily, though, today's reviews have been mostly positive, with the movie currently sporting a Metacritic score of 65. The true measure of the film's genius, though, has been its successful utilization of comedian Dane Cook in a supporting role as Carrell's brother. Critics hate Cook — Good Luck Chuck sported a Metascore of 19, including lines like "Can we finally just admit that Dane Cook isn't funny?" — so it's fun to watch them grit their teeth and grudgingly admit that in Dan in Real Life, Cook does a pretty good job. Some of the blurbs Cook might want to cut and paste into his resume:

"Astonishingly tolerable!" —A.O. Scott, New York Times

"His least insufferable performance to date!" —Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

"Even Cook … sinks into his part well!" —Keith Phipps, the A.V. Club

"The film is so winning it got me to like Dane Cook!" —Owen Gleiberman, Entertainment Weekly

Only Joe Leydon at Variety finds it in him to praise Dane Cook without holding his nose, pointing out that Cook's "fine work here (much like his under-rated turn in Mr. Brooks) suggests he could be at the start of interesting film-acting career marked by the smart balancing of lead and supporting roles."