Thursday, November 15, 2007

Dan in Real Life (2007)

This was a pleasant surprise. It was rather cheaply advertised as something much more zany and Robin Williams-esque than it turned out to be, when it's actually very low-key and charming in an almost effortless way, thanks primarily to breezy lead performances from Steve Carell and Juliette Binoche, plus the three very good actresses who play Carell's daughters. (My favorite single moment: Carell's middle daughter screaming at him, "You are a murderer of love!") And Dane Cook isn't horribly obnoxious, so that helps too.

A curious omission from the movie, though, comes from the movie's premise, where 'Dan in Real Life' is supposed to be the advice column written by Carell's character. Curiously, the fact that his character is alleged to be an advice expert is almost forgotten by the movie, except for a couple of moments in the opening credits where we see Dan working and dispensing obvious, sub-Dr. Phil-level advice like "Hide your couch potato's remote control!" No wonder Dan has so many personal problems of his own.

The basic premise of the movie is affirmatory, one of those movies that seeks to affirm to the audience that they should relax, take a little me time, drink some tea. Usually I don't care for these kinds of movies because they tend to verge towards blandness and introversion, but when it works, it works. Also, Carell builds his library of awful white-guy-dance scenes.

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