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Judy Thorburn's Movie Reviews

Dan In Real Life

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Judy Thorburn

"Dan In Real Life" - Predictable And Only In The Movies

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"DAN IN REAL LIFE" PREDICTABLE AND ONLY IN THE MOVIES

Flick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha ChemplavilFlick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha ChemplavilFlick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha ChemplavilFlick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha ChemplavilFlick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha Chemplavil

Comic actor Steve Carell is likeable and funny and, as always, French actress Juliette Binoche is pretty and charming. But these two stars cannot save this lackluster romantic comedy from drowning in over familiar territory that we’ve revisited over and over again. The movie is so predictable that I practically could have written the script and much of the dialogue myself. The fact is, as I was watching the screen, I often could hear the voice in my head saying the words along with the characters.

What we have here is another variation on such flicks where the story revolves around a family reunion during the holidays. Throw in a love connection, some humorous moments, a few conflicts, a reconciliation, and well, ho hum, you get the picture.

For this scenario, Steve Carell plays Dan Burns a widower and advice columnist for a New Jersey newspaper who has trouble following his own advice when it comes to his personal life. Its been four years since his wife died and it hasn’t been easy as a single father trying to cope with his loss while at the same time raising three daughters with minds of their own, teenager Jane (Alison Pill) who is seldom allowed to use her driver’s license, middle sibling Cara (Brittany Robertson), too young to be madly in love according to her dad, and youngest, Lilly (Marlene Lawston) who is hungry for her father’s attention.

But change is in the air soon after he arrives at his parent’s (John Mahony and Dianne Wiest) lakefront compound in Rhode Island for the annual family gathering. At a visit to the local bookstore Dan encounters a smart and lovely stranger named Marie, sparking a fire of interest that he hadn’t felt since his wife. They connect, and although Marie says she has a boyfriend, she agrees to give Dan her number.

In a wicked twist of fate, Dan soon discovers that his hopes for a love match is squashed when lo and behold, he is shocked to find out Marie is his brother Mitch’s (Dane Cook) girlfriend. Although Dan and Marie have a mutual attraction, they try to keep it hidden which allows for silly and supposedly comical mishaps that, for instance, take place during an outdoor exercise session, games of physical contact, or in the shower. It’s torture for Dan who suffers through watching his brother and Marie joyfully interact and listen to every member of his family gush over her, as if she was a symbol of perfection.

Marie comes off as a woman who at first enjoys being the center of attention and acting as a tease towards Dan who secretly pines for her. Only when Dan’s mother sets him up on a blind date with a former ugly duckling that has grown into a hot plastic surgeon (Emily Blunt), does Marie’s jealously rear its head, in the form of a very silly and humorless dance off in a bar.

Director and co-writer, Peter Hedges who has shown more heart and soul in his previous scripts (What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, About a Boy, and Pieces of April) that deal with family issues and matters of the heart, has in this case, missed the boat with a lack of sincerity. I was disappointed because I was expecting more from this filmmaker.

To help Dan understand and connect with his three daughters there are just too many contrived situations to make the outcome believable. Let me say without revealing more, that the sideline plot devices centers around something each of these character wants desperately and initially could not have. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure that out.

If you are looking for something new and original, forget about it.
Dan in Real Life isn’t terrible, just artificial, bland, disposable and a waste of talent. At least, there aren’t any vulgar moments. But, this is strictly stuff you would only see happen in the movies or on a TV sitcom. Dan in Real Life? I don’t think so. Reel life would be more appropriate.