Media Maven: “Dan In Real Life”

Media Maven: “Dan In Real Life”

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Dan in Real Life
Steve Carell, Juliette Binoche, Dane Cook, Diane Wiest, John Mahoney, Marlene Lawston, Amy Fields, Emily Blunt

“Dan in Real Life” is a statement meant to convey how an advice columnist can dispense counsel to readers, yet his own life may be far removed from the advice he confidently gives others. “Dan in Real Life” is also the name of this delightful movie about family, parenthood and admitting that even an advice columnist may not know everything.

Steve Carell plays Dan Burns, the widowed father of three precocious daughters. His life consists of many roles. He is son to two proud and doting parents. He is sibling to a sister and two brothers. He is uncle to several young nieces and nephews.

Then he is confused and caught off guard when he meets a woman at a bookstore who joins him for an impromptu cup of tea. Smitten, with the woman’s phone number in his pocket; Dan plays all his roles simultaneously as he is greeted by his extended family.

Every autumn he packs the three girls up and goes on a Burns Family weekend trip. As families do, they sense a happiness within Dan and ask him what’s going on. Sheepishly he tells them he met a woman and he thinks he is going to call her. Encouragement and a good bit of sibling ribbing abound. Being a single parent has filled the void of missing his departed wife. This is the first time in a while he has shown any interest in dating.

For anyone who has been out of the dating pool for an extended period of time, Carell’s performance as a kindhearted, middle aged “nonswinging” single person is endearing. We feel for the guy and understand his hesitation. Matching his ineptitude in knowing the “smooth” way to behave in an unexpected situation is Juliette Binoche as the woman of interest. The problem is Dan isn’t the only one interested in Marie (Juliette Binoche).

Strong performances by comic Dane Cook and old favorites Diane Wiest and John Mahoney serve to make us feel like we are part of this loving family.

Warning: there is no nudity, no crude language, no objectifying women and no violent chainsaw scenes. All in all it is a likable movie. It’s not necessarily a film about a grand love story it’s more a film about a life story — one that includes a lot of love all the way through it.

Rating: Four Chic Stars

Jan’s Movie Rating System:
5 – Top notch entertainment
4 – Compelling, Heartwarming, Thrilling, Comical
3 – The a) story b) actors c) special effects saved/made this movie.
2 – If you are bored watch it, or wait for DVD
1 – Don’t bother. Too morose, too violent, too blasé, an enigma.