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DAN IN REAL LIFE ($30) has instantly become this reviewer’s personal favorite Steve Carell movie. In DAN IN REAL LIFE, Carell gets to play a character that is a real human being, instead of a caricature, thus allowing him to show a full gamut of emotions and deliver a performance that demonstrate the range of his abilities. Anther thing I really love about DAN IN REAL LIFE is the fact that an ensemble of great actors surrounds Carell, who in turn, make this warm and appealing comedy as close to "real life" as possible.

In DAN IN REAL LIFE Steve Carell portrays, newspaper columnist and widower Dan Burns, who is raising three daughters on his own. Four years have passed since his wife’s death and Dan’s existence completely revolves around his daughters and his job. However, things quickly change, when Dan and his daughters travel to Rhode Island to a family reunion at the home of his parents. While in Rhode Island Dan drops into a local bookstore he encounters a lovely woman named Marie (Juliette Binoche), with whom he demonstrates an instant rapport. After a lengthy conversation, Dan is smitten and is able to get her telephone number, even though she has made it clear she is already involved with someone else.

Returning to his parents home, Dan’s brother Mitch (Dane Cook) arrives at the reunion and introduces Dan to his new girlfriend- who turns out to be… (you guessed it) Marie. To spare Mitch’s feelings, Dan and Marie spend much of the time pretending like they have never met, however as the reunion progresses, the two find it harder and harder to deny their feelings for one another. Sure, there are moments in DAN IN REAL LIFE that take an all too obvious romantic comedy route, but the performances are so appealing that one tends to get swept up in the joys of this delightful and rewarding film. The wonderful cast of DAN IN REAL LIFE also features Alison Pill, Brittany Robertson, Marlene Lawston, Dianne Wiest, John Mahoney, Norbert Leo Butz, Amy Ryan, Jessica Hecht, Frank Wood, Henry Miller, Ella Miller, C.J. Adams, Jessica Lussier, Margot Janson, Willa Cuthrell-Tuttleman, Emily Blunt and Felipe Dieppa.

Touchstone Home Entertainment has made DAN IN REAL LIFE available on DVD in a 1.78:1 wide screen presentation that has been enhanced for playback on 16:9 displays. The DVD does a very nice job of rendering this film that was shot on practical locations, instead of a soundstage. Image sharpness and detail are very good for standard definition. Colors are rendered at a fairly realistic level, plus the flesh tones are pretty natural. Blacks and whites are accurate, while contrast and shadow are just fine. Film grain is a bit heavy in places, but never seems excessive. Digital compression artifacts maintain a low profile.

DAN IN REAL LIFE comes to DVD with an efficient, but generally unremarkable comedy mix, which has been encoded into 5.1 channels of Dolby Digital. Not surprisingly, the outlying channels see limited activity, with only occasional effects, as well as general ambience and musical fill falling into the rears. Voices are cleanly reproduced and the dialogue maintains complete intelligibility. French and Spanish language tracks are also encoded onto the DVD, as are French and Spanish subtitles.

Animation and sound serve to enhance the DVD’s interactive menus. Through the menus, one has access to the standard scene/episode selection and set up features, as well as a few nice extra features. A running Audio Commentary featuring writer/director Peter Hedges is provided. Featurettes include Just Like Family: The Making Of Dan In Real Life (fifteen minutes) and Handmade Music: Creating The Score (ten minutes). Deleted Scenes with optional director’s comments, plus some Outtakes are also included on the disc. Previews and Trailers close out the supplemental content.

DAN IN REAL LIFE is a warm, rewarding and highly enjoyable comedy that has become an instant Steve Carell favorite with this reviewer. Touchstone’s DVD release looks and sounds really nice. Recommended.



Dan in Real Life (2007)



DVD reviews are Copyright © 2008 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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