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Dan in Real Life

Directed by: Peter Hedges
Release date: October 26, 2007
Running time: 98 minutes
Rated: PG-13
DVD Release date: March 11, 2008

In a serendipitous encounter of love at first sight, widower Dan Burns' (Steve Carell) life is changed. The widower and father of 3 passionate and headstrong daughters meets a beautiful woman named Marie (Juliette Binoche) in a bookstore and is instantly smitten. Problem is Marie has a boyfriend, Dan's brother Mitch (Dane Cook).

Dan and his girls are on a weekend getaway visiting relatives at the family retreat in Rhode Island. The whole gang has congregated, including Dan's siblings and their families, his parents and Marie, who was invited by Mitch. Because of Marie's presence and Dan's instant attraction to her, he spends much of the vacation with his behavior switching back and forth from bumbling fool, to a clueless man with a crush. Dan's missteps are in glaring contradiction to his occupation as a family advice columnist for a newspaper.

Danís daughters further challenge his resolve. The oldest (Alison Phil) is bucking her father's unwillingness to allow her to grow up. Dan's middle child is a passionate middle-schooler who is certain she's in love. His youngest daughter struggles with fleeting memories of her mother. All three girls are typical in that they find fault in just about all of their dad's actions. Marie's presence in the house offers a comforting feeling for Dan's girls, which intensifies his feeling for her, but how can that continue past the vacation, since she's committed to Mitch?

The Burns family further complicate matters when they attempt to meddle in Danís life. There are some hilarious moments that ensue when the entire group is gathered. John Mahoney and Dianne Weist are perfectly cast as Poppy and Nana, Dan's parents. The touching moments such as the family talent show, touch football and group exercise offer Dan some levity, but more so a reprieve from the nagging, overbearing loved ones who are anxious for him to move on with his life. However, the freedom from his family's pushy, but loving intentions are short-lived as they set up Dan to have dinner with Ruthie Draper (Emily Blunt), a long time family friend.

Will Ruthie's presence wake Dan from his Marie spell? Will her being in the picture force Marie to confront feelings she may have for Dan? You'll have to watch the film to find out, but I did enjoy the chemistry Steve has with both Blunt and Binoche, especially Binoche. It wouldn't surprise me if they are together in future films. But in terms of Dan in Real Life, the writer and director treat the audience with perfect endings for all three characters. The film is a quintessential romantic comedy, and you are happy for Dan, his kids and the extended family as well.

Dan in Real Life is well worth the time spent watching and even more enjoyable watching with your family or loved ones. It's safe for kids of middle-school age and up.

*I've viewed this film on DVD, which was purchased with my personal funds.

Dan in Real Life

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