Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Dan in Real Life

WORTH-IT: (Hedges) From the director of What's Eating Gilbert Grape, comes another feel good about your sad family story. This rendition is a quirky mesh of The Family Stone and Wedding Crashers. There is family football, holiday food, and rivaling family members over female counterparts. This one is done well. Steve Carell tones down his outlandish humor into a quirky and sardonic single dad, working to raise two teenagers and one pre-teen who is "in the fourth grade and can make up stuff on her own." Dan in Real Life is a beautiful compilation of 'real-life' father-daughter struggles, family stereotypes, and a comical love story. Throwing phenomenal Binoche into the mix brings exotic flair to a normal family, notable only because they are so darn genuine. The story is endearing, although as Carell and Dane Cook defend their love for the same girl, I cannot find the ability to separate Cook from his stand-up. I can't help but laugh when Cook portrays each line and emotion with the same tone and gesture he does in stand-up. But despite the oddity of Cook's character throughout the story, it actually helped round off the quirky feel this film carries. No one is supposed to be babelicious. Nothing is out of the ordinary. Everything is predictable. So predictable, that you would be disappointed otherwise. Everything is believable. So believable that come the end, you will find yourself attached to the hearts of these characters. Maybe not Dane's, (he's really just filler) but definitely Carell and his daughter's, definitely Binoche, and certainly the family as a whole. It teaches love, and not the romantic kind- the unconditional kind. And that lesson helps this film succeed beyond other 'holiday feel-goods.' See this one with the fam, or someone you want to be next to when your heart becomes all warm and fuzzy and a few tears slip down your cheek.

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