Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Dan In Real Life

I've been to Paris. Once. Granted it was a whirlwind 36 hours in the city of love, but it pretty much lived up to everything I thought it would be. Beautiful architecture, amazing food, romantic lighting, and the unsettling feeling of being judged as a "Stoopid Americahn".

This unfortunate, if not accurate, French stereotype had trouble dissipating during DAN IN REAL LIFE as I watched the gorgeous Juliette Binoche flow on and off the screen. She's PERFECT! Of course Steve Carell, Dane Cook, and practically every man in the room would fall in love with her. Problem is, she's TOO PERFECT! It was virtually impossible to believe that this graceful creature would be playing tackle football or NOT horrified to put on used bowling shoes. I kept waiting for her to fit the children for berets, wake everyone up to the smell of fresh baguettes, and teach the adults the finer points of wine tasting. That's what Binoche would be doing on a Tuesday, not roughing it in the sticks with some loud and nosey extended family.

The following exchange may or may not have been in the movie. I may or may not be making this up, I honestly can't remember.

Dan (Steve Carell)
Gee Marie (Juliette Binoche), you look really good this morning.

Oooh thank you Mr. Dan, vou are so sweet and I lauve vou.

What? Don't you mean you love my brother who is predestined to marry a stripper and not a beautiful Parisian goddess like yourself? What the heck did you see in him anyway?

Moi? Ooh I dunno, I tink he vas, how do you say, funny. But non, I lauve you and here ist saume French Toast for vou.

Aw shucks.

Unfortunately, Peter Hedges decided to write/direct a bit of fantasy this time using only imaginary characters for an imaginary perfect world where families gather at the off season to play crossword puzzles and put on variety shows. It might have been nice to ground the father/daughter relationship between Steve and his eldest as we never do see them have a heart to heart about her desire to leave the nest. Notice how Hedges chooses to go for the broad laugh in the shower scene. Instead of Steve being captivated by his daughter exposing her feelings and soul, he's captivated by the naked Binoche in front of him. A moment that if turned on it's head would have meant the world in character development for everyone involved, but no, you're right Peter, let's have Steve jump out of a two story window instead for a good trailer moment.

My suspension of disbelief and ducking the flying loose ends aside, I did find moments of this film very touching, all credit due to Steve Carell. His emotional guitar duet should make you tear up if you have any soul left in your carcass. It's just to bad that someone as funny and talented as Carell is subjugated to pratfalls and someone as untalented and unfunny as Dane Cook gets work.

It's not the worst movie I've seen all year, we'll save that honor for SPIDERMAN III. If you're looking for a a BIG CHILL like romcom than this is your one stop shop. But if you're looking for the feel good, best acted, laugh out loud filled movie of the year then go see JUNO or LARS AND THE REAL GIRL (those reviews coming soon) and netflix this for a good chuckle one night. There is very little reality in Dan's "Real" Life.

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