Pierce Gardner and Peter Hedges
Steve Carell, Juliette Binoche, Dane Cook, Diane Wiest, and Emily Blunt
Buena Vista Home Entertainment
Steve Carell plays Dan Burns, a newspaper columnist who offers advice to parents. He has recently lost his beloved wife and is working hard to raise three blond and precocious daughters. Dan carefully prepares their lunch, three different kinds of no crust sandwiches, which includes taking the time to draw a smile, with honey, on the peanut butter sandwich. These details show what a loving and attentive father Dan is to his three willful daughters, one 17 year old desperate to drive a car (Dan won’t let her because it is too dangerous), one who is in love (Dan is against her passion because this daughter is too young), and the little one who is too young to push boundaries.
The real fun starts when Dan unexpectedly falls in love with the quirky (she has traveled, she is mysterious, she is Hollywood quirky!) Marie (Juliette Binoche) in a bookstore, however, this becomes a huge problem since Marie is the girlfriend of Dan’s brother, Mitch (Dane Cook), and the whole darn family is staying together for their annual family reunion in this big house and Dan and Marie have to smother and try to cover their abiding and growing love for one another.
It has some of the usual problems that big Hollywood movies have in that a few scenes don’t work so well, however, I was surprised to find that I really enjoyed this movie. It has a lot of heart and illustrates truths about the importance and difficulties of the family. I laughed a lot, which is what I always do with a Steve Carell movie. I could really identify with him and how he struggled to keep those willful teenage daughters on track. Dan is trying so hard to be a good single parent that he has abandoned his own love life, something that I think a lot of parents do.
My favorite scene had Steve Carell and Dane Cook singing, “Let My Love Open the Door”, by The Who’s Pete Townshend, during a family talent show. They can’t actually sing, but this is the tender moment when Dan is finally starting to feel emotion for a woman again, after a really long dry spell. I also completely enjoyed a cameo by Emily Blunt, who plays a sexy plastic surgeon. She has just one short scene, but it is as funny as can be. I also loved her in “The Devil Wears Prada”. Someone give that girl a starring role!
“Dan in Real Life” is a fine movie to enjoy with the entire family, which is rather refreshing considering all the blood, gore, and family dysfunction so prevalent in film these days. It is wonderful to see a film that celebrates family in such a loving way.
Bonus features include deleted scenes, ‘real life’ outtakes, the making of the movie, the normal audio commentary with the Writer/Director Peter Hedges, and my favorite, a section on how the composer made the score. The Director wanted the music to be a character and he found a young, talented, and cute Norwegian musician called Sondre Lerch, who used his acoustic guitar to create some “handmade music”. The music is a nice backdrop for the sad, vulnerable, yet hopeful Dan as he rediscovers what it means to love. The music in this film is excellent and it is nice to have a section paying tribute to the fantastic composer.
7 out of 10 binkies
Isabella Lucero is a writer, mother, cook, and gardener living in Tucson, Arizona.