Dan in Real Life

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Dan in Real Life 1Dan in Real Life (2007)

Directed by Peter Hedges

Written by Pierce Gardner, Peter Hedges

Starring: Steve Carell, Juliette Binoche, Dane Cook, Dianne Wiest, John Mahoney

Dan (Carell) is a widower whose life revolves around his three daughters. When he meets a beautiful woman (Binoche) at a bookstore he has no idea that she’s his brother’s (Cook) girlfriend.

Dan in Real Life 5This is a sentimental romantic comedy from 2007 that I really enjoy. The film was directed by Peter Hedges (What’s Eating Gilbert Grape), and written by Hedges with Pierce Gardner (Lost Souls). The movie stars Steve Carell (Foxcatcher), Juliette Binoche (The English Patient), Dane Cook (Employee of the Month), Dianne Wiest (Hannah and Her Sisters), and John Mahoney (Primal Fear).

Dan in Real Life 6This story is a really great blend of complicated emotions wrapped up in a fun romantic comedy. Dan is a great character, written in a way that exposes the depth of his emotional scars and his motivation for living. The role doesn’t get too dark though, allowing the comedy in the writing to shine through. The rest of the characters are also written nicely, each playing a nice part in this story. The heartfelt moments of the story all feel nicely timed. There doesn’t seem to be any push to make things happen, leaving a very organic feel with this one. The comedy in this story is also really good. Instead of relying on Cook and Carell to do little bits throughout the film, the writing gives a lot of the characters the opportunity to be funny. This helps to elevate this one from a cheesy romantic comedy. Overall this one succeeds thanks to the great characters and the fun little twists in the story.

Dan in Real Life 2The acting in this movie was far better than I expected. At the time this was released I knew Carell mainly from The Office and Cook from his raunchy comedy shows. While some of the remaining cast were serious actors, I didn’t know how the chemistry would work out. Thankfully the chemistry between the stars of this one is great. Carell gives a wonderful performance as a very conflicted man in pain. This was a nice surprise since his comedic skills are what he’s generally known for. He still has some really funny moments in this well-rounded performance. Juliette Binoche also does a good job in this one. She’s the perfect choice for this role since she contrasts to dramatically with the rest of the cast. This contrast isn’t a negative aspect of the story, but it serves to illustrate some of the important differences between the characters.

Dan in Real Life 7A nice surprise in this one is Dane Cook. He’s certainly not going to anchor a dramatic film any time soon, but he does good work in this one. His natural sense of humor comes through in the performance, but it’s mixed with genuine emotion that plays pretty well.  They’re joined by Dianne Wiest and John Mahoney who play nicely as Dan’s parents in this one. The entire cast does nice work in bringing this fun story to life.

Dan in Real Life 4One other aspect of this film that I really appreciate is the music throughout it. The film features the music of Sondre Lerche, a popular Norwegian musician. There’s something about his music that plays right into the feel of this movie. This is a well-made movie that should appeal to fans of romantic comedies and drama. I can easily recommend this to fans of any of the stars. This one also has nice repeat value, so it’s worth revisiting if it’s been a while. I give this one 4 out of 5 stars.

Rating: PG-13

Running Time: 98 Minutes

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