Real Life’ Dan is the man for every romantic comedy fan: Carell and Cook refresh the genre

Aaron Helfferich and Aaron Helfferich

It isn’t often a romantic comedy is applicable among all audiences. “Dan in Real Life” is the latest comedy to follow in this unlikely trend. Starring the popular Steve Carell and Dane Cook, “Dan in Real Life” borrows much of its content from other films.

Determining whether borrowing is honorable or not, it is without fail the success of this film is largely due to its characters. Pleasingly enough, this comedy may have blended the right amount of fun with honest struggles and true-to-life representations.

Much like the film “The Family Stone,” in 2005 “Dan in Real Life” focuses much of its story line on a family visiting each other for the holidays. Obviously, the story follows Dan more than anyone else, but when you have a widowed character who writes a family advice column, sets strict rules for his three daughters and is portrayed by Steve Carell you don’t have much of a better choice.

Mix this story with an indie-like soundtrack and character-driven situations, and you just might make that conventional aspect look unique.

Dan is a very simple character with a very simple perception of life. It is the life-lesson situations he is put through that make his character so profound. The situations elevate the film’s humor not just to the level of thoughtful, but to heartfelt as well.

Here, Carell exhibits elaborate layers of care-free fun and intricate tenderness that make him so enjoyable to watch. Audiences will appreciate the kooky things this family does because it is all tied together in a true-to-life display.

Sure, “Dan in Real Life” has moments where it seems very been-there-done-that, but it is always fascinating to see a typical mainstream actor take something clich’eacute; and make it look new again. No matter how many scenes seem predictable or expected, the performance from Steve Carell combined with the tenderness of this story is anything but foreseeable – it’s masterful.

Letter Grade: B

Rated PG-13 for some innuendo.

Runtime: 98 min.

Starring Steve Carell, Dane Cook, and Juliette Binoche

Directed by Peter Hedges