DAN IN REAL LIFE (2007)

TMG Scale 7.0     P Factor 0.0     MPAA Rating: PG-13
Starring Steve Carell, Juliette Binoche, Diane Wiest, John Mahoney, Dane Cook

TMG:  This time of year I am always looking for good family films to watch the night before Thanksgiving. The setting here is a big family get together at a sprawling family cottage on the beach. Some kids are married. Mitch (Cook) is the swinging bachelor arriving to introduce his new girl friend.  Dan is a meloncholy and somewhat lost widower with three young daughters.   Mom (Weist) and Poppy (Mahoney) try to keep the family kindled over charades, fires, walks on the beach and warm meals. This is all pretty much like The Family Stone (2005).  Dan in Real Life is one step below, but pretty close.

Dan is trying to do his best to get over the loss of his wife and raise three young girls. He writes a local newspaper column giving people advice on life and living while hoping to get a syndication break. He is plodding along.  The weekend with the folks and siblings is just a ritual to maintain stability in his life.

While killing time in the local bookstore, Dan meets this attractive and seemingly lost soul named Marie. (Binoche)  Magic strikes. Love at last. Dan is a bit awkward and corny, but you feel he and Marie are two searching souls that have found what each need and have been looking for.  Marie tells Dan she has a boyfriend, but gives him  her phone number anyway. Off to mom and dads house where brother Mitch introduces him to…Annie Marie—the woman from the bookstore. What were the chances of that, huh? Dan struggles to put it in the past and ignore Marie, but her eyes and heart clearly lead him on. For crying out loud, this is his brother’s girlfriend and may soon be his fiance! Marie lays doubt all around which brother she really likes best. What do you do? You let things take their course and see what happens.

Much of the humor is over Dan trying to disavow his feelings for Marie while still confronting her every chance he gets. This is a silly and stupid little story with some endearing and laugh out loud scenes the whole family can enjoy.

Joy Lynn: This story is too contrived and predictable. Carrell is darling and charming, but this movie falls short of the Thanksgiving classic, The Family Stone (2005).   Halfway through this DVD I found myself hitting the fast forwarding button. Partly because there was no chemistry between Dan (Carrell) and Marie (Binoche) and  because men just don’t act like they do in this movie. Men don’t talk excessively to each other about girlfriends, love, kissing, dating, etc.  Everything in the story was laid out for you.  There was no need to wonder what might happen, it was apparent from the get go.
I would  give this film  a 6.0. I understand why TMG liked it. It just could have been so much better. Rent The Family Stone this Thanksgiving instead.


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