Directed by: Peter Hedges
Dan in Real Life is a film directed by Peter Hedges who is better known for his skill as a writer, particularly the award-winning What’s Eating Gilbert Grape. Although he only has three films to his credit as a director, Dan in Real Life shows some serious chops and I look forward to more from him in the future.
Dan is ably played by Steve Carell, a widowed father of three girls who works at a local newspaper as an advice columnist. Having never gotten over his wife’s death himself, Dan finds himself struggling to deal with his middle daughter’s (in her early teens) claim to have fallen in love with a boy after only three days. A family get-together at his mother and father’s house leads him to a chance meeting with an interesting and beautiful woman in a bookstore in his old hometown. Incredibly taken with her, he tells his brothers and sister about the woman he had met and all of his siblings are very excited for him and offer him advice on whether or not he should call her right away or wait for a while. One of his brothers calls out to his girlfriend, who Dan hadn’t met yet, to introduce her and ask her opinion on the matter. Much to Dan’s horror, the woman he met at the bookstore and his brother’s girlfriend are one in the same!
A long weekend at the parents’ house with various activities and meals leads to tension between Dan and the woman, whose name is Marie. Dan ultimately decides he has fallen in love with her, after only three days, much to the chagrin of his middle daughter who had been told by her father that such a thing was impossible.
Dan in Real Life is a wonderful blend of comedy and drama and contains a few subplots that make it a very lively movie. One of my favorite actresses, Diane Weist, plays Dan’s mother. His father is played by John Mahoney (of Frasier fame) and Marie is wonderfully portrayed by Juliette Binoche. The brother who is dating Marie is comically played by Dane Cook who offers up a wonderful little ditty while a third brother plays piano. The song is called “Ruthy Pigface Draper.” I’ll let you watch and learn what that’s all about!