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Dan in Real Life

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Dan in Real Life Review


Advice… every can use advice from time to time. Dan is the man who can help. Parents rely on Dan Burn’s daily advice column to help tame their teens, while Dan (Steve Carell) struggles to understand his own three daughters.

The widower meets the woman of his dreams at a bookshop when she mistakes him for a book clerk, rambling on and on until she finally realizes her error. Not until later, on a family vacation does Dan learn that his bookstore ‘hottie’ is his younger brother’s girlfriend Marie. Parisian-born actress Juliette Binoche portrays Marie. Dan’s love for his brother Mitch (Dane Cook) prevents him from pursuing Marie, but Mitch unknowingly pushes the two together by placing them in uncomfortable, yet funny situations.

Although the forbidden love comedy is dated, writers Pierce Gardner and Peter Hedges added a fresh face to the familiar plot. The setting and direction of Real Life create the cinematic beauty of the film. The camera is frequently movie or changing points of view, but not in a distracting manner. The shots are framed by the calm, simple music, which perfectly compliment this beautiful, wacky story.

The Real Life cast is filled with zany characters that don’t push the limit of realism. Audiences can relate to Dan when his parents bug him about dating, or when his brother takes credit for his accomplishments, and even when his overly dramatic daughter drops to her knees sobbing over a boy. Those who expect to see Carell in his signature 40-Year-Old Virgin-esque role will be disappointed with Real Life. Carell has veered far away form his norm and stepped into a witty, smart character. Juliette Binoche may be familiar to Americans through her role opposite Johnny Depp in Chocolat (2000.) Another familiar face is Flight Plan’s young star Marlene Lawston, who has made her mark with Real Life.
One piece of Dan’s advice struck me, not only in its truth, but also in its relevance to Carell’s surprising performance. Dan explained that adults always ask kids what their plans were when they should just tell them, “Prepare to be surprised.”





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