Thursday, March 6, 2008

Dan in Real Life DVD

DVD Review by Kam Williams

Headline: Cruel Sitcom Features Steve Carell as Grieving Love Guru

Sometimes a film’s premise is too farfetched to believe it for a second. Such is the case with this tawdry tale of betrayal masquerading as a heartwarming romantic comedy. Steve Carrell stars as Dan Burns, a widower with his hands full trying to raise three daughters on his own.
One would think that as a relationship expert he’d know better than to become embroiled in a love triangle with his brother’s girlfriend. But that’s exactly what he does during the Burns clan annual reunion being hosted by his parents, Nana (Dianne Wiest) and Poppy (John Mahoney), at their home located along the Rhode Island shore.
The plot thickens right after Dan and the girls arrive from New Jersey, when he ventures into town for a break from all the estrogen. At a local bookstore, he locks eyes with Marie (Juliette Binoche), a fey beauty with an ethereal air about her.
The two strike-up a casual conversation which ends up lasting hours. Despite the obvious chemistry, they reluctantly part company, unaware that they will be spending the weekend together. Turns out she was invited to the gathering by her boyfriend who just happens to be Dan’s brother, Mitch (Dane Cook).
Back at the house, neither lets on that they’d already met. Instead, they opt to compound their dilemma with an increasingly deceitful cover-up as they continue to share some stolen moments.
The problems with this morally-reprehensible premise are plentiful, starting with the fact that Dan is secretly stealing Mitch’s woman and from right under his bro’s nose. Plus, there’s the question of what sort of example he’s setting as a role model for his young daughters, and what type of relationship guru would behave in such an unethical fashion.
A truly cruel sitcom celebrating a sordid form of sibling rivalry.

Poor (0 stars)
Rated PG-13 for some sexual innuendo.
Running time: 98 minutes
Studio: Buena Vista Home Entertainment
DVD Extras: Audio commentary with director Peter Hedges, deleted scenes with director’s commentary, outtakes, plus “The Making of” and two other featurettes.

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