Awkward moments, a meddling family and a nonexistent love life could easily define anyone’s existence. Such is the case in Dan in Real Life. Recently widowed Dan Burns (Steve Carell) doesn’t have time for love these days and is simply trying to survive while raising his three daughters, Jane (Alison Pill), Cara (Brittany Robertson) and Lilly (Marlene Lawston).
It isn’t long before Dan meets Marie (Juliette Binoche) while attending a family get-together. The only problem is that Dan’s new love interest is actually his brother, Mitch’s (Dane Cook), girlfriend. It soon becomes a competition between Dan and Mitch as they vie for Marie’s attention, only for Dan to lose sight of his family in the process.
Throughout the movie, Dan is struggling to fit the roles that are expected of him while still trying to have a life of his own. His many desperate attempts to create his own life are unsuccessful as permits, boyfriends and family take the front seat. It is no surprise Dan is easily distracted when he meets Marie.
Dan is a wonderfully written character who is very loveable and sincere. It isn’t hard for viewers to be sympathetic toward Dan as a single father who loses control while trying to maintain the balance between his personal life, family life and his duties as a father. His journey not only brings many life lessons but also many laughs along the way.
The portrayal of the big family is what really makes this movie enticing. While some movies portray the large family as overbearing and gossipy, Dan in Real Life shows the amazing benefits of a big family, even if they do seem rather insane at times.
The family is wildly entertaining and often too involved in each other’s lives, but they are still very easy to love. Even though Dan’s lack of love life is often the topic of his family’s jokes, it is clear they all really care about each other.
Chemistry plays a huge factor in Dan in Real Life, whether it’s between Dan and Marie or Dan and his family; the chemistry is what adds to the realistic quality of this movie. The relationships between all of the characters are really convincing and help the viewers take home the genuine message of the movie which is the importance of family.
Carell (The Office) successfully pulls off a dramatic role while still showing off his humorous side. He is really able to appeal and connect with his viewers by bringing such emotion and depth to his role. Dan in Real Life gives Carell a chance to show viewers his versatility and talent.
Cook (Mr. Brooks) also does a fair job in portraying the carefree brother who is more compassionate than his family thinks. Although Cook’s role is more of a humorous one, he still manages to add a hint of sensitivity to it.
Carell and Cook are both great comedians and are even better when on screen together. Both actors seem to play off one another well and not only make the movie humorous but also a very realistic portrayal as brothers.
Dan in Real Life is a very sweet comedy that will leave viewers satisfied. The storyline is easy to follow and is nicely executed by the actors. The relationships and chemistry between all the actors help make this movie very realistic and entertaining. That “big family back home” theme that runs throughout the movie is not only enjoyable but really helps this movie shine, allowing viewers to feel as if they are a part of the family too.
While there are the occasional slow points in the movie, it is still nicely done overall and it is a great flick to see if you’re in the mood for some cute light comedy.