Dan in Real Life

2008-06-19 09:21
What it's about:

Dan Burns (Steve Carell) is a widowed advice columnist with three daughters. While at his parents' home for the annual family reunion, he meets Marie (Juliette Binoche) at a bookstore and falls for her right away. Only later does he realise that Marie is his brother Mitch's (Dane Cook) girlfriend. Pandemonium follows in the Burns family as the truth unfolds.

What we thought of it:

For those who've seen the charming Little Miss Sunshine (2006), you'll remember Steve Carell's role as the depressive, lovelorn gay uncle. This time around he's a doting single father of three daughters and a man madly in love. His girls still miss their mother who died four years ago, and Dan hasn't dated anyone since her death.

The film is centered around the universal themes of loss, love and family. Dan has been mourning his wife for a while and when he finally opens himself up to love, he unknowingly falls for his once-womanising brother's girlfriend. Poor Danny ends up suppressing these feelings for the sake of his brother, his family and his daughters. But his feelings are too strong and he finds himself constantly flirting with Marie, even though he prevents his daughter Cara from being with someone she claims to have also fallen in love with. The difficulties of single fatherhood are sensitively handled, though, so that Dan doesn't simply become a villain.

What makes Dan in Real Life interesting is its memorable characters – especially Dan's three daughters Jane, Cara and Lilly. Jane (Alison Pill) is the eldest and quite mature and sensible. She's a bit of a wise mother hen even though she's just about to start college. Cara (Brittany Robertson) is in her teens and dealing with love for the first time. She's bitter because her father won't allow her to be involved with a guy she's just met. The baby of the family – Lilly (Marlene Lawston) – is quite fragile and still longs for her mother while craving her father's attention. But Dan is so engrossed in his growing obsession with Marie that he fails to recognise his daughter's needs. Juliette Binoche brings her usual radiance and grace to the part of Marie as she enjoys the attention from both men.

Dan in Real Life is a stylish love triangle romantic comedy with authentic emotions and hilarious moments. While it's authentic enough, the cheesy and perfect ending brings you back to the reality that while this movie may look like real life, it's not.

- Gugulethu Mkhabela

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A simple and straightforward romantic dramedy on loss, love and family.

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