Dan in Real Life

Dan in Real Life

(2008)
From the screenwriter of About A Boy and What’s Eating Gilbert Grape? comes this romantic comedy featuring the pairing of man-boy Steve Carell and French beauty Juliette Binoche. Story follows a widower who finds out the woman he's fell in love with is his brother's new girlfriend.

Flicks Review

This Steve Carell vehicle charms with some wholesome middle-aged humour and natural acting but stumbles due to odd chemistry between the two leads.

Widower Dan (Steve Carell) takes his three daughters on 'vacation' with his extended family. Here he falls rapidly in love with Marie (Juliette Binoche), only to later find out she is his brother’s new girlfriend. Darn it!

This is a large family that likes to play charades and put on variety shows for each other whenever they can. How sweet, we say through gritted teeth. But a strength of the film is how these actors relate to each other as if they were a real family. Less appealing is the icky sentiment drizzled over the film like fermented caramel. If happy endings and 'cute' families aren't your thing, then you'd be advised to steer clear.

He's a very shouty man, our Steven. That heavy brow and piercing stare have been put to good use in characters that like to 'lose it' a lot. There’s a constant defensive sarcasm that seeps out of his flesh even when he's standing still. There’s never really anything endearing, exciting or fresh about his comic performances, and his shtick can grow stale very quickly.

Bearing that in mind, Carell can do decent work when he puts on his 'serious' hat. And his role as a single parent in Dan In Real Life is his best to date. There's something about Dan’s struggle to bring up three daughters after the death of his wife that is brought to life perfectly in Carell’s hands. He plays the character almost with a permanent 'sigh', without ever looking pathetic, and it’s hard to imagine anyone else playing the part.

Dan’s love interest, Marie (Binoche), doesn’t fare so well. She feels out of place and irritatingly smug, possibly due to her odd French/American accent. It's here that the film struggles to convince. Not once did I buy that Marie was falling in love with the downtrodden Dan. Not once.

So despite the naturalistic acting from the extended family, the quaint holiday house location, and the inoffensive humour, Dan In Real Life is let down by a central conceit that is not believable. What does the glamorous Marie see in the rather desperate (albeit sweet) Dan? I have no idea, and would welcome suggestions.


The Peoples' Reviews

Average ratings from 4 ratings, 4 reviews
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I enjoyed this film and Steve Carrell's great acting skills, but it's probably best to wait till this comes out on DVD. It's a little bit slow but enjoyable nevertheless.


BY Brian1 superstar

"..Wholesome middle-aged humour..." is about it.
A few genuine laughs, no real surprises, generally predictable, but worth a see.
Probably really a 2.5er, but "Flicks" doesnt provide for that, so a 3.


Funny man Steve Carrell steps into unfamiliar territory in this somewhat off beat drama mixed with black comedy and romance. Carrell does a great job in type of role reversal compared to his normal characters he plays. The film itself though does feel like its lacking direction, luckily the supporting cast do their part to keep the audience entertained as the film sways off track a fair bit.
There are quite a lot of awkward yet funny moments Carrell excels in but it’s not enough as the... More final print leaves us cheated with the all too readable subplots as the normal clichés present themselves upon us one by one.Hide


BY Ken-Burns superstar

just very clear storytelling. This film is what being at the movies is all about. Strong emotional ties to characters as a viewer. Some aspects of the story relate to your own life and some others to other people. Steve Carel is just aguy getting on with his life as a widower and has a thing for Juliette Binoche who is not so French in this one. I'd easily see this again


The Press Reviews

64% of critics recommend.
Rotten Tomatoes Score. More reviews on Rotten Tomatoes

  • A small but sweetly formed comedy of romantic misfortune that can?t quite keep Hollywood at bay. Full Review

  • Dan in Real Life is neither wildly farcical nor mockingly cruel, but rather, for the most part, winningly gentle and observant. Full Review

  • Binoche brings a touch of class and maturity to the film, even if she does occasionally look surprised to be there, but it's the whole ensemble, including veterans such as Wiest and Mahoney, who, with Carell, make this an enjoyable and amusing watch. Full Review

  • A smart, sweet, and thoroughly disarming ensemble comedy that isn't afraid to wear its humanism on its sleeve. Full Review

  • This low-key little indy manages to slowly charm you into submission with its pared back and oftentimes hilarious dissection of family life and relationships. Full Review

  • Deftly interlaces heart and humor in a witty, warm and well-observed comedy about the unexpected and inconvenient blooming of romance at the weekend gathering of an extended family. Full Review