Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Dan in Real Life (Movie Review)

Neither great nor awful, this film falls somewhere under the umbrella of "decent."

Dan in Real Life (2007) stars Steve Carrell as an advice columnist who happens to also be the widowed father of three girls. Dan's wife is four years deceased and though his daughters are moving on with their lives, Dan isn't — his parents and siblings have taken to criticizing Dan's lackluster love life, even going so far as to set him up on blind dates.

But when Dan and his daughters drive to Rhode Island to spend a few weeks with their extended family, he visits the local bookstore and meets the woman of his dreams. They talk, laugh, etc. and at the end of the conversation she reveals she's dating someone. Too late for Dan, though — he's smitten.

Cut back to the family cabin, where minutes later Dan is introduced to his playboy brother's new girlfriend, who naturally just happens to be the woman from the bookstore.

Dan is crestfallen, conflicted, and insanely jealous. Matters are further complicated when it is revealed his brother — who's had his fair share of women — is genuinely interested in a long-term relationship with this woman. To make matters worse, the whole family loves her.

But Dan is miserable, and though this misery allows for some of the film's comedy, I also found myself feeling uncommonly sorry for him, from his daughters' normal teenage resentment, to all of those questions from family forcing him to talk about issues he'd prefer to keep quiet.

And it's because of this duality — the comedy and the drama — that I had higher hopes for this film. I felt like something was missing — something that could've made and "OK" film "good" or even "great." Maybe it needed a little more edge, or to be a little less predictable and formulaic.

Whatever was missing for me is also probably the same thing that makes this safe for just about anyone to watch and find it moderately entertaining — and unoffensive.


1 comment:

XOXO said...

What? No inappropriate uncomfortable scenes? I'm slightly disappointed and yet really relieved.