Sunday, October 28, 2007

Movie Review: Dan In Real Life

My friends and I were stuck in the front row- the movie sold out and I'm sure it's #1 at the box office. This, however, was not enough to spoil this cinematic outing- my first since August - we saw the Simpsons Movie and the I-35 bridge collapsed. Both of my friends and I agreed that this movie was great-enough meat to move, enough laughs to provide comedic respite for three 1Ls in desperate need of anything but law school. I'm usually fairly jaded about romantic comedies, but this ain't your mother's romantic comedy. I'm used to the standard plot: beautiful girl, handsome boy, comedic plot, screwball and foibles, a touch of drama, happy ending.

Dan in Real Life is so much more than that.

Steve Carell is no longer the 40-Year Old Virgin. He's got amazing depth in his role as Dan, an advice columnist who happens to be a widower with three daughters, ages 17, 14 and 10. Carell gave Dan sensitivity, a sense of humor, talent, hurt, and wit. Dan is a complex character at best, a regular guy who is hurt in a very intense way. Done wrong, Dan could be portrayed as a simpleton. Carell does Dan right.

I won't give away the plot- but there is some great tension, as boy-meets-girl-who-is-dating-boy #2. The phenomenal thing here is that the whole thing is more than just the story. The movie resonated with me- the whole cast gave moving and honest performances- Dianne Wiest and John Mahoney as Dan's parents are particularly charming.

The real gift in this movie is that it is tremendously funny. The actors have gorgeous chemistry, and just as the hurt is ever-present, it's never heavy handed. There are no cheap laughs, no practical jokes. One of the most touching moments in the movie comes on Family Talent Night- where Steve Carell and Dane Cook play the guitar and sing George Harrison's "Let My Love Open The Door" to Juliette Binoche. Yes, it is a preview moment, but it isn't fully revealed, and that's a good thing. You have to see the movie to understand why, but that's the point.

Go see the movie.

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