Doctor's Review of Dan in Real Life
Dan in Real Life(2007)
"It's either the lighthouse or the whaling museum - you make the call."
What begins as a congenial seriocomic family reunion gets scuttled once more by a threadbare 'true love forever' concept based solely upon one afternoon's brief social encounter. By his own admission, widower Dan (Steve Carrell) doesn't know much about Marie (Juliette Binoche) after he meets her in a bookstore because he does all the talking, yet they spend much of the movie playing petty jealousy games with each other. Now there's the sign of a quality relationship. Even more absurd is that Dan gets set up on a blind date with a terrific and many times more beautiful woman with whom he is obviously more compatible, instead their date is a tool designed as a wedge between Dan & Marie simply because the screenplay demands it.
That's considerable negativity coming out in this review because I did feel shortchanged by the final third which contains unlikely complications that I easily guessed beforehand. So why 3 stars?
1) I appreciated that this extended family generally likes each other and does corny activities together, refreshing to see a family reunion movie that doesn't revolve around everyone shouting and bawling.
2) Carrell and Binoche do have some chemistry when they aren't acting contemptibly towards each other.
3) There are some genuinely funny bittersweet moments (e.g. the sound of the clothes dryer at night, and the day Dan takes three kids out for some fun only to find every place he knew has closed.)
4) I got a kick out of the impromptu "Ruthie 'Pig-Faced' Draper" singalong.