Upon seeing the new feel good family movie, “Dan in Real Life”, I couldn’t help but think that this was the poor man’s “Family Stone”. Now, the “Family Stone” wasn’t exactly a milestone in cinematic history, so you can imagine what level this film achieved…hovering right around mediocre, at best.
However, I will say that it was somewhat entertaining. I, too, laughed with the aged audience who had come for the 4:30 showing last Sunday afternoon. You see; I didn’t walk into this sticky movie theater with any expectations. In fact, I’m pretty sure I had negative hope for this move, so anything was something.
The movie is about Dan (Carell), a family advice columnist and a widower raising three daughters. Think “Full House” on the big screen. He packs up the car and kids and takes them to the family’s lake house for their annual family togetherness time. Upon arrival, the rest of the family, who are all loving and wonderful, greets them. You know, just like real life. With his daughters frustrated with him, Dan seeks solace at the local bookshop where he meets a chatty foreign woman (Juliette Binoche), with whom he engages a deep conversation. She has to go suddenly, but she gives him her number, despite the fact that she is dating someone. He returns to the family in high spirits boasting to the men folk about this amazing woman. Enter younger brother/Uncle Jesse-type (Dane cook) with his new girlfriend in tow. Turns out, the woman at the bookstore is Dan’s brother’s girlfriend. Sexual and familial tensions ensue to bring you…”Dan in Real Life”.
Steve Carell gave a slightly emotional performance in which I could visible see him physically holding back his urge to be funny. I kind of just wish he would have let it out, and added some originality to the film. I disliked the choice of Juliette Binoche as the love interest. I really respect her as an actress, (Chocolat was tasty) but she just seemed unrealistic for either brother to be interested in her. Dare I say…too old? As for Dane Cook, there are no words for our stand-up friend, who should steer clear of the big screen and stick to large arenas filled with frat boys.
Despite my biting remarks, if you have nothing to do on a Sunday afternoon, it’s not a complete waste of ten bucks. Take your Mom as a beard, because then you can claim that she insisted you go with her.