Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Dan in Real Life: A Great Getaway Film

Movie Review: Dan in Real Life (2007)
Version: Showtime on Demand

Amazing how many movies there are from a few years ago I haven't seen, and there are tons of them out there that are really great. One of them is Dan in Real Life from 2007, with a fine cast and a decent script. I would say probably perfect for ages teen and older; in a pinch, older kids might sit still for it, too.

Dan is a single father raising three girls. He lost his wife to illness four years earlier and still hasn't learned how to let go of the loss, so he's holding on to a very young one, a teen, and one approaching adulthood. Every year the whole extended family meets at the family's lodge in Rhode Island for bonding time, and Dan (Steve Carell) drags Jane (Alison Pill), Cara (Britt Robertson), and Lilly (Marlene Lawston) along for the week away from their everyday lives to play nice with the relatives. He really should be out finding a new girl friend and letting them live their own lives. Well, surprise everyone, Dan meets Marie (Juliette Binoche) after his mother Nana (Dianne Wiest) sends him away to the bookstore, and he falls head-over-heels in love with her. When he gets back to the lodge, he tells his brothers about her only to discover his brother Matt (Dane Cook) has brought her as his girlfriend to meet the family, and now not only can Dan not tell anyone who he has fallen in love with, he can't pursue her has she has invited him to do while leaving the bookstore. And from here, all manner of awkward situations develop and ensue and create conflicts for Dan and Marie only a well-written rom com can resolve. I should add, John Mahoney appears as the family patriarch, Poppy, with his usual warmth and depth of character.

There are lots of plot twists and fun moments in a screenplay written as breezily and effortlessly as an episode of Frazier or Friends. Subplots and subtexts abound to make this story as rich and interesting as a Woody Allen comedy, although without the irony or sardonic wit, of course. You will feel at home in the coziness of this oceanside family compound and its rounds of games and meals and offside chats. Stop by for a spell and feel part of the family.

Dan in Real Life was one of our better movie picks in this time of pandemic lockdowns. We really escaped the worry and the bad news for a couple of hours of fun. I think you might enjoy it, too.

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