Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

Emily Blunt, who makes an appearance in this here film ‘Dan in Real Life’ is a very pretty girl.  Of course she’s only twenty three years old as of this writing, and quite honestly, how hard is it to be hot and twenty three?  Hell, I was hot-ish at twenty three.  Anyway, as pretty as Ms. Blunt may be, who the heck taught that child how to dance?  There was a scene in this movie where her character, Ruthie, and Steve Carell’s character of Dan are in the bar dancing.  Dan is an awful dancer to be sure, but that was for comedic purposes because as talented as Steve Carell  could very well be the second coming of John Travolta, but Ruthie who is supposed to be the ‘sexy’ one was seriously painful to watch.  Emily Blunt has set the myth that white people can’t dance back a good sixty years.  Even Mark Cuban was cutting a mean rug on that ‘Dancing With The Stars’ show (not that I would actually watch that) and you mean to tell me that this long, lean sexy red headed knockout can’t properly move her body to the beat?  Criminal. 

But about this movie.  Dan Burns is a widowed father of three girls, seventeen year old Jane (Alison Pill), fourteen year old Cara (Brittany Robertson) and eight year old Lily (Marlene Lawston).  He writes a family column in the local newspaper and dotes heavily on his girls leading to smothering issues of some sort or another with all of them.  It’s the time of year for the Burns family gathering were once a year Dan, his parents, his siblings, their significant others and their broods all gather to their backwoods cabin, and do fun things that as far as I know, only people in movies do.  While at a bookstore fetching a newspaper Dan meets the lovely Marie (Juliette Binoche) and the two just seem to hit it off just swell as sit down for tea and muffins, again another device I’m certain only happens in movies, and it’s magic.  Unfortunately

when Dan makes it back to the cabin, awash in the glow with this new enchantress he’s just met, his brother Mitch (Dane Cook) introduces the family to the new love of his life, of course, Marie from the bookstore.

Things become complicated because though Dan knows it’s probably not cool to lust after your brother’s girlfriend, he really doesn’t give a damn.  Well he does, but he doesn’t – not really.  Confusion sets in because Marie is just about as mad about Dan as Dan is about Marie and because of this madness all kinds of lunacy and mayhem ensues.  Compounding Dan’s issues is the niggling problem of his little girls getting all grown up and other stuff leading our man Dan into one terrible decision after another.  How will this all resolve itself?  Well, though the words ‘Real Life’ is the title of this thing, it ain’t nowhere close.  It’s a movie after all and I think it’s all gonna work out just fine.

First, a couple of problems I had with ‘Dan in Real Life’.  Number one, I hate bratty kids.  I can’t stand kids who talk back to their parents, disrespect their parents and disregard their parents.  That’s not cute or funny to me, and I don’t know whether it was supposed to be cute or funny here, but disrespectful children were on full display.  Dan also doesn’t think his fourteen year old daughter Cara should be in a relationship, no matter how much in love she thinks she is, and he’s pretty much the one considered to have the problem.  Excuse me but was this script written by a fourteen year old girl?  My other problem is the very THOUGHT of pursuing your brother’s girlfriend.  I have a brother and I don’t care how much his girlfriend’s soul matches mine, she’s off limits.  Forever.  Even if they breakup.  That’s just plain nasty.  So if a man trying to sabotage the relationship between a woman his brother is on his knees swearing undying love to doesn’t bug you like it bugged me, then you might find ‘Dan in Real Life’ pretty cool. 

Since I couldn’t get past this, I didn’t care for ‘Dan in Real Life’ all that much, but that aside, Steve Carell who gives a fine performance as the confused father is really a great comic actor, Juliette Binoche has great range as an actress though Steve Carell did a much better job acting like he was attracted to her than she did in acting like she was attracted to him.  This is possibly because Dan became quite irritating after a while causing one to wonder why even his late wife opted to be with him.  The rest of the cast did fine work and Dane Cook has an AWESOME agent.

Directed by Peter Hedges who was the screenwriter of one of my all-time favorite films in ‘About a Boy’, here has created a film, that he co-wrote with one Pierce Gardner, that is actually anti-real life as the script is woefully movie predictable, loaded with forced sentimentality and everybody gets exactly what they want in the end just like in any other movie not associated with real life.  So as you can plainly see I was disappointed with ‘Dan in Real Life’ and I probably would have been less so if they just named the movie ‘Dan living in the movies’.  Or ‘Dan’s Real Life – when the camera is running’.  Or just plain ‘Dan’.

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