Real Nice Movie

1 Nov

On the movie spectrum, there are the awesome, award-caliber films on one end, the truly awful ones on the other end, and then, somewhere in the middle, there are the merely pleasant ones — movies with no great agenda other than to provide a diversion for a couple hours.

Dan in Real Life is one of those middle-of-the-road pictures, and it’s meant as no slight to call it pleasant.

Actually, the movie could have been much worse with less talented creative folks involved.

Steve Carell stars as the titular Dan, a newspaper columnist who writes about the relationship between parents and children. A widower, Dan remains down about the loss of his wife and his worsening relationship with his three daughters.

Things brighten up when, during a weekend away at his family’s summer home, he meets a woman, Marie (Juliette Binoche), and the two hit it off.

Could this be his second chance at love?

It could … but as it turns out, Marie already has a boyfriend, and it’s Dan’s brother, Mitch (Dane Cook).

Much agonizing ensues. Will Dan’s love open the door to Marie’s heart?

In another director’s hands, Dan could have been a cheesy, lame duck of a movie. But director/co-writer Peter Hedges keeps all the emotion pretty real, and with a couple exceptions toward the end, not much of the movie is contrived.

The Sondre Lerche soundtrack provides a mellow tone, and both the writing and acting convey an actual family dynamic (not unlike, say, the TV show Brothers & Sisters).

And at the center of it all, Carell gives a performance of genuine emotion, and doesn’t resort to overacting to convey Dan’s frustrations. Hedges thankfully doesn’t make Dan flip out in a typically wild way, and Carell shows actual heart here, a nice change from his roles on The Office and in Evan Almighty.

Dan has its moments of humor, but most of it comes from character and not from plot, or silly situations. That’s a welcome change of pace.

If all you’re looking for is an easy, warm hour-and-a-half at the movies, then this is the film for you. I’m giving Dan a B.

One Response to “Real Nice Movie”


  1. The Odd Movie Review of “Timothy Green” « Martin's Musings - August 17, 2012

    […] be clear, Timothy Green, which was written and directed by Peter Hedges (Dan in Real Life) is not a bad movie. It’s a nice, family-friendly film from Disney, the company that a thing […]

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