Dan In Real Life wasn’t the film I was expecting. I was expecting Stranger Than Fiction and I got The Family Stone mixed with Little Miss Sunshine. Although somewhat thrown off at first, I came to realize I liked it because it was nowhere near as excruciatingly frustrating as The Family Stone or awkward as Little Miss Sunshine.
I thought it would be about Dan and his personal life, including relationships with women, hobbies, and short-comings, sort of like Stranger Than Fiction. Instead, it was about his family life. Overall, I enjoyed watching this film.
Steve Carrell does a good job in this movie. He is calm and collected and sort of troubled with how his life is going, but nowhere near as troubled as Nicolas Cage’s character in The Weatherman (an excellent film). It is very real, albeit very frustrating, how he interacts with his daughters. Let’s put it this way, I would never want to be a single father raising three teenage-ish daughters.
I don’t think this movie is about his relationship with his daughters, however, even though most people would say so. I think it’s about his relationship with his family (i.e. parents and siblings). His daughters are a secondary motif. This film is him against the world, similar to Steve Martin’s role in Father of the Bride. It seems Dan’s family is out to get him, as well as the local law enforcement and pretty much any external force present in the movie.
He needs to figure out if he’s going to give in or stay strong. Steve Carrell does a good job playing a man who is struggling to figure out what he’s supposed to do, and how he’s supposed to be a brother, son, and father.
The scene where his brother is playing piano and they’re all singing along about the pig-nose girl is hilarious and feel-good. Also, the movie has a semi-good indie music soundtrack (which I totally expected).
The cast includes Steve Carrell and Dane Cook. Shouldn’t this have been a comedy? Or at least funny? I know, I was surprised too. I think I laughed once. It was the scene with the piano.
Someone screwed up the plot on this one. It’s not the actors’ fault, the director’s fault, or the composer’s fault. It’s the producers’ fault. Unlike Father of the Bride where Steve Martin was the one who needed to give in and stop being the idiot (although I could definitely relate to him and was rooting for him to stay strong), Dan In Real Life should have featured the main character staying strong and not giving in. That’s what a single father of three daughters needs to do, especially when his children have had to go through the passing away of their mother.
When Dan proceeds to apologize to everyone and completely give in and become broken and vulnerable, I cringed. He lost all credibility when he did that, and he lost it to people that needed to leave him the hell alone and treat him like an adult. You should not have to apologize to your kids for being a good father.
Some will think that he was not being a good father in this film – that he was neglecting his children in his pursuit of the woman he had fallen in love with. I would contest that argument by saying that he was looking out for his kids’ best interest by following his heart, which was leading him to an amazing woman that could (and does) end up becoming their new mother.
Acting – 2 beratings
The actress portraying the leading love interest was not good, nor were the actors that played his parents. Plus, two of the funniest people I know were not funny at all in this film. It’s hard to dock a movie points for that, but I’m kind of tired of hilarious actors playing serious roles, aren’t you? Dane Cook was funnier in Mr. Brooks than he was in Dan In Real Life.
Plot – 2 beratings
Wasn’t what I thought it would be, and ended up frustrating me at the end. Didn’t make sense to me or have an obvious edifying or uplifting message. Sure it had a happy ending, but I didn’t like how we got to it.
Inconsistencies – no beratings
Unbelievable Events – 1 berating
I don’t believe that Dan would have apologized and admitted defeat and failure like he did at the end. At least, I don’t want to believe he would do that.
Schematics – no beratings
5/10 Berating = See it OnDemand
0/10 Stand in line for the very first showing
1/10 See it the first weekend
2/10 See it at full price
3/10 See it at the Five-Buck-Club
4/10 See it at the dollar-fifty
>> 5/10 See it OnDemand
6/10 Rent it from Blockbuster
7/10 Watch it on TV
8/10 Watch it purely for spousal points
9/10 Never watch it
10/10 Buy it and publicly destroy it