Dan in Real Life

Steve Carell, Juliette Binoche, Dane Cook, John Mahoney, Emily Blunt

Directed by Peter Hedges
Rolling Stone: star rating
5 3.5
Community: star rating
5 3.5 0
October 18, 2007

Seeing the name of Iowa writer Peter Hedges on a movie (What's Eating Gilbert Grape, About a Boy, Pieces of April) means you're in for a unique blend of humor and heartbreak, with the bruising and healing powers of family right at the core. April in 2003 repped an auspicious directing debut for Hedges, which he now follows with the blissfully funny and touching Dan in Real Life, the real thing in romantic comedy in that its characters manage to be romantic, hilarious and recognizably human at the same time. Think that's easy? Try seeing yourself in the misogynist muck of The Heartbreak Kid. As Dan Burns, a widower with three daughters (Alison Pill, Brittany Robertson and Marlene Lawston), Steve Carell performs comic wonders, finding the sting in the wryest of quips. Dan writes a family-advice column filled with the common sense he lacks himself. In the four years since his wife died, Dan's been laying down rigid rules for his girls and dragging his ass about relationships. Then, out of the blue, in a bookstore, he meets a woman (the bracingly lovely Juliette Binoche) who makes him laugh and, better yet, makes him want to make her laugh. Hedges, who co-wrote with Pierce Gardner, directs with unforced exuberance. Outside the safety zone of farce provided by The 40-Year-Old Virgin and The Office, Carell shows a whole new side to his talents. Even in the brief bookstore encounter, he makes you feel Dan's longing. You also feel his horror when Dan arrives at the Rhode Island home of his parents (John Mahoney and Dianne Wiest) to find his brother Mitch (Dane Cook) ready to introduce his new love. Right, she's Marie, from the bookstore. OK, the plot tickles sitcom, but the film is a winner because Carell and Binoche follow Hedges' lead and keep it real. Sharing their company really is a pleasure.

Movie Review Main Next


Community Guidelines »
loading comments

loading comments...


Sort by:
    Read More

    Movie Reviews

    More Reviews »
    Around the Web
    Powered By ZergNet
    Daily Newsletter

    Get the latest RS news in your inbox.

    Sign up to receive the Rolling Stone newsletter and special offers from RS and its
    marketing partners.


    We may use your e-mail address to send you the newsletter and offers that may interest you, on behalf of Rolling Stone and its partners. For more information please read our Privacy Policy.

    Song Stories

    “Whoomp! (There It Is)”

    Tag Team | 1993

    Cecil Glenn — a.k.a., "D.C." — was a cook at Magic City, a nude dance club in Atlanta, when he first heard women shout "Whoomp — there it is!" Inspired by the party chant, he and partner Steve "Roll'n" Gibson wrote a song around it. Undaunted by label rejections, they borrowed $2,500 from Glenn's parents and pressed 800 singles, which quickly sold out in the Atlanta area. A record deal came soon after. Glenn said the song was meant for positive partying. "If you're going to say 'Whoomp there it is,' and you're doing something negative, we'd rather it not have come out of your mouth."

    More Song Stories entries »