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Published on June 21st, 2008 | by simeon

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Dan In Real Life

Dan Burns is a man of contradictions. He is a very successful advice columnist but also a widowed father of three young daughters. Dan is always able to give practical and honest answers to his readers, but struggles to find the right words to say at home. In the new movie “Dan in Real Life” Steve Carell gives an Oscar worthy performance in one of the most charming and honest films in recent years.

Dan packs his daughters up for a road trip to his parents, where he and his siblings gather to catch up with their folks. Along the way, Dan learns that his middle daughter is seeing a boy, and struggles to explain to her why a serious relationship at her age is not appropriate. Needless to say this ignites a conflict between him and his daughter that starts the trip off on a bad footing.

Upon arriving at his parents, Dan is greeted by his extended family and settles in for the night, not wanting to be surrounded by couples prying about his lack of dating since his wife passed away.

The next morning Dan travels to town to pick up some newspapers and has a chance encounter with a lady named Marie (Juliette Binoche), while at a local bookstore. The two hot it off and over morning coffee at a nearby cafe Dan learns that his new friend has started to see someone recently but is not sure where they are going. Dan decides to take a chance and asks her for her number and promises to call, as if nothing else, they can have a nice chat on the phone.
The reserved Dan is on cloud nine and happily informs his family that he met someone who is of interest to him, and that he will be calling her in the future. Dan’s excitement is short lived when his brother Mitch (Dane Cook), introduces his new girlfriend who has just arrived and ironically happens to be the same woman Dan has just spent the morning with.

The whole weekend becomes a series of bizarre and funny moments as Dan attempts to avoid her out of respect for his brother, but finds himself drawn closer to her with each passing moment.

The film takes what could be a stock comedy of errors, and turns it into a very warm and touching film, that has plenty of humor, but it comes out in a very natural way without being forced or gratuitous. Carell deftly combines humor with the anguish Dan has over his situation, and gives a performance that if there is any justice, will be recognized come Oscar season.

The film moves along at a solid pace and never outstays its welcome. Fine supporting work by Juliette Binoche, and Dane Cook, makes “Dan in Real Life” one of the year’s best films.

4.5 stars out of 5


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