Sunday, April 20, 2008

REVIEW: Dan in Real Life

Dan in Real Life

Year: 2007
Director: Peter Hedges
Starring: Steve Carell, Juliette Binoche, Dane Cook, Alison Pill, Brittany Robertson
Distributor: Buena Vista Pictures
MPAA: Rated PG-13

Dan in Real Life was released in the month of October and was pretty well received by most critics. The movie grossed an estimated $61 million worldwide on a budget of $25 million. The movie more than made back its budget, but also gave Carell a role that doesn't just focus on his comedy aspects, but rather a more serious role. Me being a big Steve Carell and The Office fan, I knew this wasn't a wait for the DVD version to see type film, but strangely that's what happened. I guess I was busy with other things that I managed to let this one slip right out of my view. Although the trailer looked alittle dull and un-interesting, I still decided to give this movie a look just because I love Steve Carell and The Office rocks.

Plot Outline:
Dan Burns (Steve Carell) is local newspaper columnist who gives parents advice on how to raise and deal with their children. Dan takes his daughters Jane (Allison Pill), Cara (Brittany Robertson) and Lilly (Marlene Lawston) for a family get together at his parents house. While out buying the paper one morning he meets Marie (Juliette Binoche), with whom he immediately strikes up a conversation. Marie ends up giving Dan her number, but has to quickly leave after she gets a phone call from her boyfriend. Dan goes home and begins to tell his family about the woman he has just met, only to be introduced to his brother Mitch's (Dane Cook) new girlfriend, Marie. Over the next several days Dan and Marie try to ignore their feelings for each other, only to eventually realize they cannot keep deceiving themselves or anyone else.

I went into this film expecting nothing and left actually liking the movie. The movies plot gets pretty interesting from the start when we get to see this family taking a trip to their family lodge in the mountains. As soon as Dan and Marie meet, the plot tends to get more lovely. The chemistry that Dan and Marie have is quite good and feels very real. The characters that we get introduced to in this film are all pretty lovable. I didn't think their was one person that I got annoyed of even though Dane Cook is in this movie. At times, I did think the plot was getting somewhat predictable, but its nothing to be worried about because Dan in Real Life still has a charming story. If their is anything I didn't like about the movie its that the film tried alittle too hard to be funny. I know that Steve Carell is in this movie, but that doesn't mean it has to be funny. Its nice to see him in films like this were he isn't trying to make me laugh the whole time. Like I said with the jokes, the movie tends to try hard to make the audience laugh and at times it just doesn't cut it.

Steve Carell plays as Dan and he does a great job in his role. Its so nice to see him get more roles like this were hes more serious and focused rather than trying to make me laugh hard. He pulls off that serious dad figure that we have all come to expect from dads and I really enjoyed his performance. Juliette Binoche plays Marie who falls in love with Dan. She also does a great job in her role and I thought she looked wonderful next to Carell. The two of them share a nice chemistry that makes to the story seem very much real which in my opinion is amazing. Dane Cook plays as Mitch, Dans brother. He gives a pretty good performance that I was somewhat shocked at. After the bad film that was Good Luck Chuck, he managed to surprise me. The movies story and cast were all too good that I didn't notice Dane Cook was really in the movie. He gives a much better performance then what we saw of in Good Luck Chuck.

The visual look of Dan in Real Life isn't something to go home and brag about. The movie doesn't feature any intense scenes that scream demo material, but the movie still looks pretty good. Being only a year old, Dan in Real Life contains a pristine source that seems to be in great shape. The source is clean and I couldn't detect any grain. The movie is mostly in outdoor scenes outside the cabin with some scenes taking place inside the cabin. The outdoor shots look good with some even looking great. The film has an interesting color palette. The movie isn't the most colorful film I have seen, but it certainly has some color to some scenes. Detail is pretty good with alot of close up shots looking good. I was quite surprised by the amount of detail this movie had on the DVD edition. I couldn't imagine how good the Blu Ray version would have been.

The soundtrack in Dan in Real Life is pretty good. Its no home run, but it definitely works. The music is composed by Sondre Lerche and marks his first time composing music. As his first time making music, the soundtrack in Dan in Real Life isn't a blast like it could have been. The music seems appropriate for this type of movie and has a nice melody to it, but in my opinion, it isn't used enough. The music is good, but just isn't used in a way that would make this movie really good. Bass is also on the weak side with hardly any rumbles. A movie like this isn't bound to have bass use like Cloverfield so I cant blame it for trying. Dialogue is on the good side with most of the voice work sounding good. The movie heavily relies on its dialogue and I'm happy to say the dialogue in this movie sounds very good and clear.

Dan in Real Life is just another romantic comedy that doesn't really do anything to separate itself from other movies in the same genre, but it still a good movie. The movie has a good story filled with characters that interact wonderfully together and have great chemistry. The cast is also pretty great with Carell giving us a more serious role compared to the one he gave us in The 40 Year Old Virgin. The visual look of the movie is quite good and has many moments were detail seems to look great. The soundtrack is somewhat lacking because it isn't used effectively like I would have hoped for, but it still sounds pretty good. Overall, I enjoyed this movie and can recommend this to anyone who wants a romantic comedy or interested in seeing Carell in other roles besides being the wonderful Michael Scott from The Office. I should however warn you that people expecting funny stuff from this movie might slightly be disappointed because more of a romantic movie then a comedy one.

Grade: C+

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