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Dan in Real Life

Dan in Real Life

4.5 13
Director: Peter Hedges

Cast: Steve Carell, Juliette Binoche, Dane Cook


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A widower and father of three who also writes a parenting advice column for his local newspaper falls for the girlfriend of his younger brother during a family vacation in director Peter Hedges' offbeat love-triangle laugher. Steve Carell stars as the writer who finds his widely known convictions put to the


A widower and father of three who also writes a parenting advice column for his local newspaper falls for the girlfriend of his younger brother during a family vacation in director Peter Hedges' offbeat love-triangle laugher. Steve Carell stars as the writer who finds his widely known convictions put to the ultimate test, with Dane Cook and Juliette Binoche respectively assuming the roles of the younger sibling and his radiant girlfriend.

Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Nathan Southern
An irrepressible sweetness lies at the core of Peter Hedges' romantic comedy Dan in Real Life that makes it difficult to resist. We've seen the central characters and situations dozens of times before, and the script (which Hedges co-authored with Pierce Gardner) will never be mistaken for having much depth, but Steve Carell's winning evocation of a lovable, semi-sad-sack everyman widower gives the film a buoyancy that makes it transcendently, adamantly likable. That may be more of a compliment than it initially seems: as Dan Burns, Carell has to work triply hard because of an uneven script, and because several of the supporting characters -- played by such notables as the gifted Dianne Wiest and John Mahoney -- feel so supremely irritating and grating that their presence detracts from the film. The central conflict involves Dan falling instantly for a woman he meets in a bookstore, Marie (Juliette Binoche), and subsequently discovering that she's romantically involved with his younger brother Mitch (Dane Cook); this unfolds against the backdrop of Dan's family retreat with his parents (Wiest and Mahoney), his three daughters, and his assorted siblings. Hedges may have a proclivity for working out conflicts within super-dysfunctional families (as in his 2003 Pieces of April), but this one takes the cake. Does he realize how obnoxious these people are? Anyone who dreads the inclusion of movie singalongs (à la Stepmom) should beware: this may be the first movie family in history to perform coordinated aerobic routines to Earth, Wind & Fire's "September," and to stage an entire talent show, with costumes and musical numbers, in their living room. (How in the world they managed to produce a son as well-adjusted as Dan, even taking his flaws into account, is a complete enigma.) As for the tone of Carell's character, however, Hedges has his finger on the audience's pulse; we know from the first shot of the film how it should end, and the director doesn't let us down. Moreover, we never fail to empathize with Dan as he begins inching -- and then clawing, with wonderfully droll (and sometimes manipulative) aggressiveness -- toward his one major shot at happiness. Though this movie falls far short of the gut-busting hilarity that Carell generated in The 40-Year-Old Virgin and exhibits on The Office, such isn't its intention; Hedges seems content to weave a warm, lingering spell with scattered flyspecks of humor. And for the most part, that works. The film even manages to survive the casting of the obnoxious Cook, who somehow exhibits a satisfying and genial onscreen presence here in defiance of the nimble-headed boob he has to play. If the script suffers from one major, overriding weakness, it is simply the fact that Hedges and Gardner gloss over an onscreen depiction of Dan and Marie's first lengthy encounter together, via a series of montages and flash-forwards. If we're going to root for their being together, we should know exactly what is at stake -- otherwise, given the content of the subsequent scenes with the Burns family, Dan's emotions risk coming across as one-sided infatuation. Binoche benefits from a wondrous presence as always, despite being given precious little to work with; uniquely beautiful, distinguished, and sophisticated (qualities that recall Catherine Keener in The 40-Year-Old Virgin), she's a perfect romantic lead for Carell. (Did it occur to anyone, though, given Binoche's enlistment as the female lead, that this is essentially a comic variant of the creepy dramatic situation that she dealt with in Damage?) Dan and Marie deserve happiness with one another; had Hedges jettisoned the sitcom-level romantic triangle subplot and explored the nuances and gradations of their relationship within a more intelligent framework, he might have produced a small masterpiece instead of simply a good-natured audience-pleaser. Still, there is much here to enjoy.

Product Details

Release Date:
Original Release:
Touchstone / Disney
Region Code:
[Wide Screen]
[Dolby AC-3 Surround Sound]
Sales rank:

Special Features

Deleted scenes; with commentary by writer/director Peter Hedges; Real-Life outtakes; Just Like Family: The Making of Dan in Real Life; Handmade Music: Creating the Score; Audio commentary with writer/director Peter Hedges

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Steve Carell Dan Burns
Juliette Binoche Marie
Dane Cook Mitch
Alison Pill Jane
Brittany Robertson Cara
Marlene Lawston Lilly
Dianne Wiest Nana
John Mahoney Poppy
Norbert Leo Butz Clay
Amy Ryan Eileen
Jessica Hecht Amy
Frank Wood Howard
Henry Miller Will
Ella Miller Rachel
Cameron Adams Elliot
Jessica Lussier Jessica
Seth D'Antuono Gus
Margot Janson Olivia
Willa Cuthrell-Tuttleman Bella
Emily Blunt Ruthie Draper
Felipe Dieppa Marty Barasco
Matthew J. Morrison Policeman
Bernie McInerney James Lamson
Amy Landecker Cindy Lamson
Steve Mellor Bookstore Clerk
Pauline Gregory Bowling Alley Manager
Shana Carr Suzanne Burns
Nicole Morin Jane (Age 13)
Charlotte Davies Cara (Age 11)
Zoe Paulkis Lilly (Age 4)
Lucas Hedges Lilly's Dance Partner
Sondre Lerche Sondre Lerche
Kato Ådland Wedding Band Guitar Player
Ole Ludvig Krüger Wedding Band Drummer
Morten Skage Wedding Band Bass Player
Marci Occhino Wedding Singer
Michael Peavey Helicopter Pilot

Technical Credits
Peter Hedges Director,Screenwriter
Rosie Bernhard Stunts
Chick Bernhardt Stunts
Ginny Brewer Associate Producer
Jared Burke Stunts
Will Cantler Casting
Chris Barnes Stunts
Gerald Donlan Sound Editor
Dianne Dreyer Co-producer
Stephen P. Dunn Asst. Director
Brad Epstein Producer
Sarah Flack Editor
Alix Friedberg Costumes/Costume Designer
Pierce Gardner Screenwriter
Mark Garner Art Director
Daniel B. Gold Camera Operator
Geoffrey S. Grimsman Set Decoration/Design
Steve Kirshoff Special Effects Supervisor
Sarah Knowles Production Designer
Sonny Kompanek Musical Arrangement
Barbara Lee-Belmonte Stunts
Sondre Lerche Score Composer,Songwriter
Darlene Caamano Loquet Executive Producer
Lawrence Manchester Musical Arrangement
Paul Marini Stunts
Tina McKissick Stunts
Jeff Medeiros Stunts
Anthony Molinari Stunts
Dino Muccio Stunts
Molly O'Haver Costumes/Costume Designer
Noah Rosen Executive Producer
Dana Sano Musical Direction/Supervision
Trish Seeney Makeup
Faires Anderson Sekiya Camera Operator
Lawrence Sher Cinematographer
Jonathan Shestack Producer
Erik M. Solky Stunts
Bernie Telsey Casting
Shawnna Thibodeau Stunts
David Vaccari Casting
Sabine Varnes Stunts
Mari Jo Winkler-Ioffreda Executive Producer

Scene Index

Disc #1 -- Dan in Real Life
1. Dan in Real Life
2. Bookstore
3. Coffee Date
4. Hide & Seek
5. Family Dinner
6. Exercise Time
7. Shower for Two
8. Pigface
9. Touch Football
10. Talent Show
11. Bowling
12. Syndication
13. Go Get Her
14. End Credits
1. Stop Growing [:27]
1. Picking Up Lilly [:40]
1. Near Accident [:50]
1. Sandwich Monologue [:53]
1. End of the Lighthouse Scene [:44]
1. Before the Shower Scene [:37]
1. Food Fight and Porch Scene [4:08]
1. Dan and Lilly Walk [:42]
1. Old Montage [3:44]
1. Old Talent Show [5:47]
1. Old Dan Talks to Nana and Poppy [1:31]

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Dan in Real Life 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 13 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
The comedy is a perfect family comedy. Steve Carrell is the father of three daughters"one who is emotionally challenged,"pheremonal young love, and an older,taking driving lessons-the most logical one of the bunch, and a young one about five. The story is full of mishaps, malapropisms and general blunders...The father is a widower and seeking to correct the many mistakes that he has made throughout life"and according to his parents,"he has made many.This is an enjoyable movie. "I cannot do the review justice without watching it over again to give you a full synopsis," I can, however say that if you enjoy Steve Carrell that you will enjoy this movie.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I love this movie. It's so real. Dan is just... his awkward self. There is one scene, "I'm not going to spoil it" in the bowling alley when the family comes in and you just think "Ooohh no!!" I really love this movie.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Somewhat overlooked when it hit theatres, Dan in Real Life is one of those wonderful sleepers you come across a few years after it's released and wonder why the heck you didn't give it a chance the first time. It's funny, hilariously awkward, and incredibly charming. I beg everyone to give it a try.
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