Dan In Real Life

MPAA Rating: PG-13

Entertainment: +3

Content: +3

Steve Carell, Juliette Binoche, Dane Cook, Emily Blunt. Comedy/romance. Written by Pierce Gardner, Peter Hedges. Directed by Peter Hedges.

FILM SYNOPSIS: An advice columnist/widower takes his three daughters to Rhode Island for a family reunion. There, at a bookstore, he meets and falls for a lady. She also likes him, but theres a problem. When he gets back to the family, she shows up with his brother. Soon, Dan realizes he isnt taking his own advice.

PREVIEW REVIEW: Remember when comedies were charming, funny and clean? Wow, you must be old! Well, this is one of those kickbacks to the good old days. Dan In Real Life is sublimely charming, lightheartedly funny and explicitly clean. I dont want to overbuild this thing, but I left the theater feeling good. Whens the last time moviegoers got to do that? Too often this year, Ive left a screening feeling depressed, guilty, horrified or grungy. The comedies of this year, for the most part, have relied on the I-cant-believe-I-just-saw-that factor. You know, gross-out humor. I suspect a generation has come to believe thats where all humor stems from. Satire and wit, for many moviegoers, are unexplored regions.

Not that this is the next His Girl Friday (a comedy classic), but its a sweet, relaxing, entertaining movie. Theres depth, not a cavern of depth, but just enough profundity to give the humor dimension. Theres grownup romance, just enough to give us singles hope. And despite the teen angst of the leads two girls, they emerge as fully dimensional, real people. I got a kick out of the 13-year-old daughter shes so dramatic. Full of passion, she thinks shes discovered the greatest love since Romeo pursued Juliet. This, as you can imagine, unnerves her father. Her Romeo has hitchhiked all the way to the family reunion in order to see his Juliet. But the lead will have none of that. The boy is soon on his way home. As the anguished daughter runs after the car with all the unbridled drama only a adolescent experiencing first love can muster, she hysterically cries out to her dad, You murderer of love! I nearly fell out of my chair.

There are several positive messages in the film and father and daughters grow closer by films end. Dans parents and siblings are both supportive and loving, and theres an underlining morality to the film. When the brother brings his new love home to meet the folks, for instance, the parents make sure they have separate rooms, indicating there will be no hanky panky going on under this roof. Its a thoughtful message in an era when sex between unweds is the norm in movies.

As good as the writing and the supporting cast are, the film belongs to Mr. Carell. The star of The 40-Year-Old Virgin and Evan Almighty is developing into a strong screen presence. He proved in Bruce Almighty

Preview Reviewer: Phil Boatwright
Buena Vista Pictures

The following categories contain objective listings of film content which contribute to the subjective numeric Content ratings posted to the left and on the Home page.

Crude Language: There are a few sexual innuendos.

Obscene Language: I caught none.

Profanity: There are a couple of oh my Gods but no other misuse of Gods name.

Violence: A man punches his brother.

Sex: The father discovers that his very young teen owns some revealing underwear.

Nudity: None

Sexual Dialogue/Gesture: His siblings offer comic euphemisms suggesting the need for sexual satisfaction as a release to tension and frustration in the leads life.

Drugs: Wine with dinner, some social drinking.

Other: Teen attitude leads to smart-mouthing a parent, but eventually love of parent wins out over teen angst. In one scene, the lead refers to Gandhi as a cool dude. I can think of a cooler one.

Running Time: 98 minutes
Intended Audience: Family

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