Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Dan in Real Life |
Actors: C.J. Adams, Marlene Lawston, Willa Cuthrell-Tuttleman, Ella Miller (III), Margot Janson
Genres: Comedy, Drama
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Dan's the man! A quiet little film on just how quirky love
Steven Hedge | Somewhere "East of Eden" | 10/29/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"A tired formula gets a shot in the arm by affecting performances in this quaint little film that will touch you.
I have grown to really appreciate the acting talent of Steve Carell who really can carry a film. Carell darn near stole the show in Bruce Almighty to the point where the funniest segments were cut from the theatrical release because he upstaged Carrey so much, but those scenes where fortunately made available on the DVD release. Carell was again the saving grace of Evan Almighty and The 40-Year-Old Virgin in which both most likely would have died unnoticed had it not been for his sincere performances. This comedian definitely knows how to act. Carell reminds me of the legendary Dick Van Dyke when he had serious roles or moments and Bob Newhart's dry comedic delivery. It all just seems so effortless on Carell's part.
In another affecting performance we have Carell as a widower raising three daughters alone and giving his tidbits of wisdom on doing so in a local column titled "Dan in Real Life." Even though his wife has died four years ago, he has yet to really move beyond that in the way of a relationship. He has focused all his attention of his children and while that is admirable, a parent is still allowed to look out for himself too. He has not and the annual fall trip to his parents' cabin plays out all too realistically with everyone pushing him to find someone and he does.
He bumps into a lovely woman in town that he's immediately drawn to. She is played by the ever radiant Oscar winning actress Juliette Binoche, the only reason to see The English Patient and one who makes turning 43 seem really cool and desirable. In the hands of any other actress this role would have been blown out of portion, but in the subtle hands of Binoche, it is a delicate and balanced performance. Unfortunately, this terrific woman who seems perfect for him is, in reality, his brother's latest flame that he's brought down to the family cabin to meet everyone for the first time because "this one is different."
Sadly, the effects of this are handled much like a TV-movie or a good episode of that old series "Love Boat", or any other sitcom for that matter. What makes this film ultimately rise above that is admirable work done by the leads. These are seriously understated performances that are quite touching, believable and memorable in spite of a seriously flawed script at times.
Some of the humor in this film is both lame and predictable, but the execution is always dead on. Again, the performances are the key to this tired formula of the awkward romance. I guess this film is a good example of style over substance. Will this save this movie for everyone, no, but I think most might like this film. I doubt many will love it or even remember it much after seeing it, but it's a nice experience in spite of it's obvious weaknesses."
Yours Truly, Love Struck in Rhode Island
Chris Pandolfi | Los Angeles, CA | 10/25/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Anyone who actually believes that love is a many splendored may not get their money's worth from "Dan in Real Life." Here's a film that shows just how unexpected, irregular, and confusing love can be, both in terms of family and romantic interests. There's intelligence to this story that's equally humorous and heartbreaking, proving once and for all that love is difficult to receive and even more difficult maintain. At times, it's also difficult to acknowledge, especially if it's being kept a secret. The greatest difficulty of all is letting go of love, to recognize that the past is the past and to know when to move on. All this is explored in "Dan in Real Life," a smart, witty, and touching romantic comedy that doesn't lose itself to an overabundance of clichés. The formulaic elements are there, but they're presented in a new way, and they're used in a story that can actually support them. They're not used simply because we expect them to be.
The plot focuses on Dan Burns (Steve Carell), a widowed advice columnist living in New Jersey with his three daughters. They all drive to Rhode Island for an annual family reunion, and its there that Dan meets Marie (Juliette Binoche), a good-natured woman who has traveled the world and seen many sights. Their romance comes to a halt when Dan discovers that Marie is dating his brother, Mitch (Dane Cook). Dan spends the rest of the film struggling with his feelings, unwilling to let Marie go yet unable to be honest with his family, who he can't seem to connect with.
As simple as this plot sounds, a number of fascinating, thought provoking elements liven things up. One of the most interesting is the relationship between Dan and his daughters. The two oldest are typical in that they hate Dan: seventeen-year-old Jane (Alison Pill) is desperate to see the world, and a great way to start would be to finally learn how to drive; fifteen-year-old Cara (Brittany Robertson) believes that she's deeply in love with a boy from school, and she openly despises her father for not letting that love develop. At one point, she screams that he's a murderer of love. Dan tries to rationalize the situation--Cara has only known the boy for three days, and it's impossible to know whether or not you're in love so quickly. Eventually, Dan begins to analyze his love for Marie, who he had only met three days earlier. His youngest daughter, Lilly (Marlene Lawston), is the least hostile, despite not understanding why her father behaves the way he does. As his love for Marie deepens, he loses track of Lilly, and he ultimately hurts her feelings by neglecting to read a special book she made for him.
Another important element is the relationship between Dan and his immediate family; because he makes himself so distant, they look at him more with concern than with love. Some feel that he needs to finally let go of his dead wife--his parents (John Mahoney and Dianne Wiest) set him on a blind date with an old family acquaintance (Emily Blunt), hoping that he'll finally have some fun. This suits his brother, Clay (Norbert Leo Butz), just fine, since he feels that Dan should "uncork" himself. The pressure they're putting on Dan is unmistakable, as is the fact that their actions are well intentioned but completely unnecessary. This is probably why he attempts to engage his nieces and nephews, even when they make it clear that they don't want to be engaged.
But the relationship between Dan and Marie is the most important element. It all boils down to the fact that two love struck people are under the same roof, unable to show their feelings for each other. How long can this go on? Will anyone notice? Will either of them be able to come clean? These are the questions we find ourselves asking as the film progresses, not only because the story is entertaining, but also because we eventually realize that Dan is not following the advice in his own written columns. Dan himself realizes this when his articles are considered for syndication in a major newspaper--he has become a hypocrite, someone so blindsided by love that he didn't think about who might get hurt by it.
Is it normal for love to be this emotionally exhausting? I don't think I'm the right person to answer that question, which is probably just as well; a recommendation for "Dan in Real Life" doesn't depend so much on what I think, but on the mindset you bring to the theater. This classic Boy Meet Girl fable is told in a non-traditional way, relying more on genuine emotional development than on a formulaic structure. Although it allows for the film's one weakness--an abrupt ending--the emotional development still does wonders for the story, preventing it from becoming a bland, meaningless romantic comedy. It helps that all of the characters are believable, especially Dan; as he comes to terms with the ups and downs of life, our own humanity is reaffirmed. This alone makes "Dan in Real Life" a heartfelt, funny, and thoroughly enjoyable film."
Dan In Real Life
Joe Carugati | Pennsylvania | 03/18/2008
(3 out of 5 stars)
"When Steve Carell and Dane Cook were given top billing in "Dan In Real Life," I expected a great or mediocre comedy filled with laughs and humor. Congratulations again goes to the marketing that makes a film appear different than what it actually is. This is the case with "Dan In Real Life," a film that will make you laugh with the characters, but also make you bury your face into your arms at the awkward situations dealing with love.
Dan (Steve Carell) is a widower, whose job is writing for an advice column in the paper and raising his three girls. As much as he's good at helping people, Dan can't seem to connect with his daughters. He decides to take the family to his parents' lodge for the weekend and while there he meets Marie (Juliette Binoche) in town and they immediately make a connection, only to separate soon after. Coming back to the lodge, he finds out that his brother, Mitch (Dane Cook) is dating Marie and Dan has to endure the weekend, tormented with the love he has for Marie and his daughters' dislike of him.
First things first, "Dan In Real Life" is not a comedy. It does have touches of humor and slapstick throughout, but it's much more dramatic. The title character is depressed and trying to make life work for him and his family. This is the film's downfall, because at times, it doesn't know if it wants to be either a comedy or a straight drama. It lands in the middle of the spectrum and this hurts it slightly. Luckily, the acting is very good and keeps the film from being less than mediocre.
Steve Carell is one of my favorite actors (huge fan of "The Office") and he didn't let me down here. From what I saw, he was in every single scene and he truly made them better. At one point, you'll be laughing at the absurdity of his situation, when you'll be sympathizing for his character the next (the "Let My Love Open the Door" scene). Carell makes Dan extremely likeable and a character to root for. Dane Cook gets a bad rap for his acting and although some of his movies aren't great, he does fine here as Dan's brother. Cook downplays it and his love for Marie is believable. He needs more roles like this. As the love interest, Juliette Binoche is great and has good chemistry with both Carell and Cook. All the acting was fine and was the best part of the film.
What really hurt the film was Dan's daughters and the ending. Although the actresses playing them did a good job, their characters were so poorly written. Instead of being loving, they became annoying and grating. Dan is trying his best to help their situation, but they make it harder for him. Finally, the ending was too "sweet" for my taste. It seemed like it came too abruptly and the end credits montage had my eyes rolling. If they took that out, then maybe it would have fared better.
Overall, "Dan In Real Life" surprised me in that it wasn't a consistently funny comedy, but a heartfelt drama. Unfortunately, it had a hard time juggling both genres. Thankfully, good acting helped the film along and made it better than it should have been."
This is how movies in the 21st century should be made.....
Jerry C. Lewey | Everywhere | 03/20/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This, along with a couple other movies now (only a couple though), is the revival of good script writing and good screenplays. This movie has zero special effects, but yet is such a good, good movie. I was very impressed. Carell can play a more serious role. This is where it's at. Dane Cook too did well out of his typical comedy role. I wish everyone would give this a chance. It's great.....More movies should be made like this. It's simple and great all in at once."