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** 1/2 DAN IN REAL LIFE - A newspaper columnist has trouble taking the advice that he gives out, as he struggles with his daughters and his love life. Considering that it stars Steve Carrell and Dane Cook, you'd think that it would have more of an edge. Instead, it's a gentle family comedy. Not terrible, but wait for video. Opens 10/26.

This film is not an earth shattering revelation that should send you running to the theaters, but it is a pleasant way to spend two hours. A decent rental should suffice, but it would not be horrible to see this in theaters, especially if on a date.

It should be noted, however, that the film did not need three dance sequences(why does the entire family work out together?) and two musical numbers with dane cook? These scenes all seem strange and out of place to me.

PS. The main reason that I did enjoy this film so much was that its soundtrack was done by one of my favorite artists, Norwegian singer Sondre Lerche. Look him up on youtube. Hes great!
I seem to have a way with sneak previews: I always try midtown theaters that are sold out first, and then have to rush back on the subway to get to a more out of the way place (in this case, upper west side) that has plenty of seats left, even though by that time it's nearly show time. In any case, tonight's showing of "Dan in Real Life" was totally worth the extra $2 in metro fare.
Dan Burns (Steve Carell) is a onetime novelist who now writes parenting advice columns for a living. He should know all about parenting, as a widower with three daughters. He devotes his life to taking care of his daughters, and to his parents (Dianne Wiest and John Mahoney), his brother Mitch (Dane Cook), and all the rest of his large, close-knit family. Dan is the voice of calm and reason around which all of them rotate and on whom they all depend...until he falls in love again. Of course, because it's a movie, he happens to fall in love with Mitch's new girlfriend, Anne-Marie (Juliette Binoche). And in a mere three days he manages to turn his whole perfect world topsy-turvy. Yeah, love will do that.
This film is bordering on perfection, at least for the type of film it is, which is essentially a family-friendly romantic comedy. There is no sex, no language, minimal violence, not even much of what the MPAA would call "adult content". What there is is great humor and a novelistic plot that works out its kinks a little too easily, but keeps the audience engaged the whole time anyhow. The acting is fabulous and truly makes the film work, though the writing is also worthy. The chemistry between Binoche and Carell was hard for me to believe in theory but it worked in reality. The characters could've been more fleshed out and the situational comedy could've been a little less contrived, but these are minor complaints. And the fabulous Emily Blunt gets a random cameo as a tramp of a doctor.
Overall, a delightful, laugh-out-loud funny film, with great acting, writing, story, and just a little too much Hollywood fantasy sheen - but if you don't read too deeply into the film or think too much about it, you'll love it.

Unfortunately, this movie is pure schmaltz and a waste of time. It is an under-developed, cheesy romance, NOT the touching-yet-funny story of family life that the trailer would have you belive. Pros: Steve Carell and Diane Weist give great performances, as do the 3 young girls playing the daughters. The father-daughter relationships are well written and well depicted. Cons: Almost everything else. I expected a thoughtful, bittersweet comedy but instead this film devolved into a shallow romance. The main problem is that the film TELLS us that Juliette Binoche's character, Marie, is a real keeper, but doesn't show us, which is kind of a problem. (Also, memo to world: Dane Cook is not funny or attractive.) Even if you wouldn't mind the 'love at first sight'-type conceit in a movie that can't decide if it is slapstick (falling off the roof "bit") or tear-jerker (widower backstory and relationship with daughters), this predictable, saccharin movie is a waste of time. There is nothing interesting or innovative about it, and too few funny moments. I heard that the original screenplay was excellent and that is not what made it to screen, but the reliability of my source (random guy at screening) is, admittedly, dubious. There are a handful of good ideas here, and some very good actors, but overall the movie was disappointing. Watching the trailer is enough of your life to spend on this film.

Last night I was treated to an advance screening of Dan in Real Life, and while this somewhat familiar comedy isn't anything particularly special, it reinforces the fact that Steve Carrell is one of the best comic actors working today. Carrell is in more of a Little Miss Sunshine-mode here, and instead of being over-the-top and crazy his performance is a bit more subdued, quiet, and downbeat...but that doesn't stop him from being funny. He elevates Dan in Real Life from what could've been a completely average film to something that is actually quite good and worth seeing.

But I'm making it sound as if Steve Carrell is the only good thing in this film, which isn't true. Dan in Real Life is a decent movie on its own. I was surprised by how funny it was - I was laughing frequently throughout, and entertained the whole time, which is alot more than most comedies can accomplish. And while the whole film feels generic and a bit like a sitcom, there's still something refreshing about Dan in Real Life - a clever and actually funnycomedy is hard to come by, but this is one of them. With that being said, however, Dan in Real Life is abundant with wierd moments that feel sort of - akward. It's hard to explain, but that's my main complaint about this movie - some moments are just strangely akward. Otherwise, this is a pleasant, entertaining diversion. It's nothing groundbreaking or amazing, but if you just want an entertaining way to spend a few hours, this will do. If for nothing else, see it for Steve Carrell.
Dan in Real Life
Starring Steve Carell, Juliette Binoche, Dane Cook, Dianne Wiest, and Emily Blunt.
Directed by Peter Hedges. (Pieces of April)
Rated PG-13.

I recommend "Dan in Real Life" for a fun night out! It's a romantic dramedy I can not wait to buy! It's fun to watch and it's just down right a wonderful movie with great actors
Wow, Steve Carell can do anything...Tell that to Todd Packer...I loved Dan in Real Life for a few reasons; First, Binoche and Carell kept it very real which is nice to see once and while in movies. I have "that" friend who always gets up in arms when things aren't realisitc (then I say to him, "I'm not always going to the movies to see what I can say in normal day to day life"), but his only complaint here was that things were a bit rushed, however in the films defense, 2 hours isn't exactly an eternity for a proper courtship. Second, the families interaction was so fluid and again very real, which made you feel like part of the family, which I think is essential in films like this because it makes you care more about the characters. Carell is brilliant - plot twist (sarcasm) - and Binoche is truly charming. I challenge anyone to actually "not like" this movie or leave not caring at all, but then again somebody will do it just because I challenged them, some people are the saddest!
I can see this movie playing over and over on TBS, etc. - and I will stop and watch it every time I see it. This movie is sweet, sensitive, funny and heartwarming and perfectly executed! Kudos to writers, director and cast! VGB
In less than five years, Steve Carell has effortlessly eased from a featured spot on The Daily Show, the "fake" news show hosted by Jon Stewart, to his own award-winning television series, The Office, and, unsurprisingly, a move to big screen roles, first in supporting roles (e.g., Bewitched, Bruce Almighty) and a star-making turn in Judd Apatow's The 40 Year-Old Virgin) and just last year, an acclaimed turn in the ensemble comedy/drama Little Miss Sunshine. In a bid for broader appeal, Carell starred in Evan Almighty, a big-budget sequel to Bruce Almighty earlier this year. Carell's lead role in Dan in Real Life does little to dispel the suggestion that Carell is losing his edge in the hopes of gaining mainstream success. Not that there's anything wrong with that, except that Carell's comedic talents aren't much on display in another inoffensive family comedy/drama.

Dan Burns (Steve Carell), a widower, and the overprotective father of two teenagers, Jane (Alison Pill), Cara (Brittany Robertson), and one preteen, Lilly (Marlene Lawston), makes a comfortable living as an advice columnist with the potential to go national via syndication. Trouble is, his teenage daughters don't listen much to him and rankle at his stifling rules and cautious approach to living. Seventeen year-old Jane wants Dan to let her drive the family car and fifteen year-old Cara is infatuated with a local boy. Hoping for respite from the conflict from his daughters, Dan takes them for the annual family gathering at his father (John Mahoney) and mother's (Dianne Wiest) waterfront cabin.

Peace, however, doesn't follow Dan to the family gathering. After another argument with Cara, Dan makes a quick getaway to the local bookstore where he meets Marie (Juliette Binoche), a Frenchwoman also on vacation. Mistaken for a bookstore clerk, Dan impresses Marie with his general knowledge and reading tips. After Marie discovers Dan's ruse, they decide to go for coffee, where the quickly smitten Dan shares intimate information with Marie. Before he can turn the tables on Marie, though, she runs off without telling him where she's going: meeting her boyfriend Mitch's (Dane Cook) family for the first time. Mitch is, of course, Dan's brother.

Dan in Real Life shares much in common with Meet the Parents, Meet the Fockers, The Family Stone, and writer/director's earlier film, Pieces of April. All four films involve the discomfort and dysfunction that seemingly accompany the depiction of family life on screen. Dan in Real Life borrows the romantic triangle element from The Family Stone, up to and including mismatched pairs and the late arrival of a new romantic partner to ease the passage from cheating on a lover (usually unconsummated) to the revelatory moment that involves someone's heart being broken, to the jilted ex almost immediately meeting their "soul mate."

Not surprisingly, Dan in Real Life is as formulaic, predictable and conventional as you'd expect from a Hollywood romantic/family comedy/drama. With the absence of originality, Dan in Real Life is only as good as the character-revealing dialogue, the all-too-familiar moments of family-based discomfort which usually lead to verbal or physical humor, and the performances which, at minimum, should be persuasive both in the larger family scenes (i.e., believable as siblings, parents, and/or children) and in the smaller, more intimate moments. Dan in Real Life at least has all that going for it. It's also a mostly inoffensive message about following your heart, listening to your children, and the restorative power of romantic love.

For some, perhaps many, moviegoers, these reasons won't be enough convince them to see Dan in Real Life. Whatever their thoughts about Dan in Real Life's themes, however, Carell's fans are likely to be disappointed with Carell's eager transition from comedian and political satirist to an actor typecasting himself as an upper middle-class shlub squirming his way toward banal realizations about himself and the meaning of life which can be found, predictably enough, in the traditional family structure.

I loved "Dan in Real Life". A wonderful journey-to-love story like
You've Got Mail or While You Were Sleeping, but not ridiculously full
of sight gags and crude jokes, and not so romantic it makes you wanna
throw up.

Dan Burns (Steven Carrell) is a popular advice columnist who can't seem
to get things in his own life straightened out. Until one day, on a
family gathering/trip, he meets and instantly connects with Marie (the
always beautiful Juliette Binoche)a radiant specimen of a woman who
seems to be framed in a hazy filter hearkening back to the starlets of
classic cinema. Chemistry happens over a cup of tea and muffin, but
Marie must be off for a previous engagement, and they must part ways.

Later we are treated to Dan's tight-knit, fun-loving relatives who not
only have big breakfasts together but also enjoy using the intelligent
and sweetly dorky Dan as the butt of many bachelor jokes. What I liked
so much was that although the family's characteristics could be seen as
obnoxious to some, I thought it was a great portrayal of a big family
that doesn't venture into parody or crude exaggeration. The Burns
family is simply a close, loving group of people who are truly
interested in the best for Dan. There are wonderfully awkward family
moments that aren't unrealistic. The family is nosey, but never
mean-spirited or gossipy; quirky, but never outlandish.

And then Dan falls in love with his brother's girlfriend he's brought
to the family gathering. And thus begins a roller-coaster of restrained
longing and funny love-budding.

I could go on but I just thought this movie was simply awesome. It's
not particularly "hip" or "clever", never too wordy and obsessed with
dry humor or biting wit as many comedies are in modern cinema. There is
a nice balance of storytelling visuals and funny-but-real dialogue. in
fact, early in the movie, the initial spark of love begins with
whimsical discussion in a classic Hollywood-style conversation where
the characters say what they're thinking out loud.

So I've probably rambled and repeated myself, but I highly recommend
"Dan in Real Life". It's a great date movie, trust me, you'll laugh,
and only if you're a geek like me you'll get a bit teary-eyed. Filled
with fun and magical love, "Dan in Real Life" won't disappoint.

=================== 3.5 out of 4 stars Grade: A
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