Friday, July 5, 2013

Dan in Real Life (2007) [PG-13] ****

Dan Burns (Steve Carell) writes a newspaper column on parenting. He's a widower raising three girls, so he has had lots of experience, although his daughters don't think much of his parenting skills. Now it's the weekend of the annual family reunion and Dan and his girls have driven to his parents' lakeside home in rural Rhode Island where the rest of the large family is gathered. Going out to buy a newspaper, Dan meets Marie (Juliette Binoche) in a rural bookstore. The two are clearly interested in each other, but Marie is already involved in a new relationship, and they soon discover that her new boyfriend is Dan's brother, Mitch (Dane Cook), who has brought Marie to the reunion as a guest.

This film resembles a poorly-written and poorly cast, big-budget blend of The Big Chill and Parenthood. The screenplay is uninspired and derivative, with plot elements telegraphed well in advance, and a predictable ending. There are far too many characters and subplots and the film runs twenty minutes too long. This story would have been much more successful as a romantic drama, with Dan, Marie and Mitch all struggling to understand and resolve the secret tension among them. Steve Carell's strength is in comedy; he is out of his depth as a romantic lead, and he has very little romantic chemistry with Juliette Binoche. Binoche is an incredibly gifted actress; she's an Oscar winner for her role in The English Patient, an Oscar nominee for her role in Chocolat, and she's virtually a French national treasure. Although she tries to elevate this production, her talent, beauty and energy are just not enough to keep the film from sinking under the weight of its own mediocrity. Sadly, the supporting talents of Dianne WiestJohn Mahoney and Emily Blunt are also wasted. In the end, Steve Carell fans may be satisfied – Juliette Binoche fans will not.

Labels: comedy, drama, romance

Internet Movie Database
Metacritic 65/100
Tomatometer (critics=64, viewers=69)

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