Friday, November 28, 2008

Dan in Real Life (2007)

I had a chance to watch the movie "Dan in Real Life" starring Steve Carell and directed by Peter Hedges. I watched this movie because my late grandmother loved it so much. She was a big movie fan, and loved comedies and family dramas, so I thought I would watch the first ten minutes of the film and see how I liked it, and I soon forgot about the ten minute rule, and watched it straight through. The film is filled with sentimentality. "Dan in Real Life" is about a widower (Carell) who is raising three girls by himself. Dan Burns (Carell) and his daughters are heading up to a family get together that they have every year. While there he meets a women (Juliette Binoche) in a book store while out getting a paper. They talk and share a cup of coffee, and fall for each other. But here's where the conflict happens. After Binnoche's character leaves and Dan heads back to the family he meets her again only this time as his brothers girlfriend. So hence begins a few days of torture for Carell's character.

Now I know it sounds a bit far fetched, but I have to say that Carell does an excellent performance as Dan Burns. He does a slow burn, and you do feel some sympathy for him and his predicament. Binoche does a fair performance as the girl caught between two brothers, but this is Carell's movie, and he does one heck of a job as a love lorn widower of three girls. This is Peter Hedges second movie he's directed. Hedges also shares writing crets here with Pierce Gardner. Both writers I'm a bit unfamiliar with their other work, but do know Hedges received an academy award nomination for "About a Boy" with Hugh Grant.

If you're looking for some holiday movies with a feel good ending then "Dan in Real life" is your type of film. The jokes and humor are not laugh out loud funny, but they are funny and that's a credit to again Steve Carell's acting abilities. Diane Wiest is in this too yet she does not have as much to do here as she Carell or Binoche. There are good performances all around by Dane Cook, John Mahoney and Brittany Robertson. The film in itself is well done, and something of a simple pleasure. There are faults, but they are only nit-picks. I felt that the scene where the family makes fun of a blind date that the family is setting up Dan with is a bit cruel. I know that when the girls eventually does show up she is just the opposite of what they all expected. There are a couple of scenes that telegraph the ending, yet they work in their own way. I'm sure the writing could have been a bit better and more realistic. After all it deals with a man who has lost his wife who he adored and loved. How does anyone coupe with a loss of a loved one is a difficult thing to write about, and yet this is a comedy and we can't get bogged down with heavy emotions.

Again I did like this film, and thought it sweet and sentimental. In the end we all know Carell's character and Binoche's character get together, but how they get there is fun to watch. So if you're looking for a sentimental and sappy film about family, loss, and re-discovered love then "Dan in Real Life" is your cup of tea. Just sit back and enjoy the characters, and smile. In the end that's what makes "Dan in Real Life" a film worth watching.

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