Dan in Real Life (2007) [Blu-Ray]

Genre(s): Comedy / Drama / Romance
Buena Vista || PG13 - 98 minutes - $34.99 || March 11, 2008
Reviewer: Brad Lowenberg || Posted On: 2008-03-12


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.:: F I L M ::.
The Film

S P E C I A L
.: F E A T U R E S :.

Special Features

A U D I O &
.:: V I D E O ::.

Audio and Video

.:: O V E R A L L ::.
Overall
.::MOVIE INFORMATION::.
Director: Peter Hedges
Writer(s): Peter Gardner & Peter Hedges (written by)
Cast: Steve Carell, Juliette Binoche, Dane Cook, Alison Pill, Brittany Robertson, Marlene Lawston, Dianne Wiest, John Mahoney, Amy Ryan


Theatrical Release Date: October 26, 2007


.::DVD INFORMATION::.
Supplemental Material:
  • Co-Writer/Director's Commentary
  • Deleted Scenes
  • Outtakes
  • Just Like the Family: The Making of Dan in Real Life
  • Homemade Music: Creating the Score


Technical Information:
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Widescreen (1.78)
  • English (PCM 5.1), English (Dolby Digital 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 5.1), Spanish (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English, French, Spanish

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.::THE FILM::.

IMAGE

Synopsis (from the back cover): Steve Carell stars in the hilarious comedy that's bursting with more charm and clarity than ever. Advice columnist Dan Burns (Carell) is an expert on relationships, but somehow struggles to succeed as a brother, a son and a single parent. Things get even more complicated when Dan finds out that he's actually fallen in love with his brother's new girlfriend. You won't miss one nuance of music or dialogue from a brilliant all-star cast. This heartfelt fun-filled comedy that's "laugh-out-loud funny" will have you coming back again and again with the vividness of Blu-ray.

Going into the movie I was not really sure what genre of film I would be watching. The trailers to the film made it out to look like a full fledged comedy, especially with the inclusion of Dane Cook (Good Luck Chuck, Employee of the Month) to the cast, but underneath is a very strong romantic film with some comedic and family elements tossed in. Since Steve Carell (The 40 Year Old Virgin, “The Office”) has typically taken work in Comedy's, it was a great change of pace to see him in a film that is out of his element (Little Miss Sunshine being the exception) and puts him in a role as Dan Burns, a widowed father that is raising three daughters all with different issues. Jane, the eldest, has her license and wants to drive at every possible moment, while her father wants none of it. Cara, the middle daughter, is just now discovering boys and realizing that she is in love with someone after 3 days even when Dan says that's not possible while Lily, the youngest, is growing up a little too fast for Dan to realize that she no longer likes taffy and can form meaningful conversations without help from her older sisters.

The movie starts off with Dan who writes an advice column for the local newspaper, putting together his latest column, and the title of the film "Dan in Real Life". We then see Dan taking on the role of a mother figure by folding the laundry and preparing his daughters lunches, even cutting off the crusts of their sandwiches and making a happy face with the honey, taking pride knowing it’s there while his kids wouldn't have a clue. Later that day Dan picks up his kids after school and starts a road trip to visit his parents and family at the yearly reunion, much to dismay of Cara who has to leave her love Marty behind after Dan embarrasses her in front of everyone at the local burger joint.

After arrival we meet all of Dan's family, including his youngest brother Mitch (Dan Cook), and all settle in for what appears to be a great reunion. The next day, Dan's mother notices that Dan looks a bit depressed and tells him to go "get lost" in a newspaper at the local bookstore. On arrival, Dan picks up his paper and makes his way towards the books when a very attractive women, Marie (Juliette Binoche) stops in hoping to ask for help from the owner. After the owner ignores her, she spots Dan and assumes he works there and begins asking him questions on what type of book she should get for the mood she is in. Dan appears to be ignoring her; all while picking up random books and then presenting her with each title and a reason why she might like them. At that moment the owner comes over and she declares that she would take them all and wants all the commission to be given over to the helpful employee Dan. It's at that point the owner outs him as not an employee but a customer and Dan offers to buy her a drink to make up for misunderstanding. Soon Dan is engaged in a conversation with Marie about everything in his life, including his late wife. After what seems to be hours, Marie receives a phone call and says she needs to go, admitting she is in a relationship but Dan persists in getting Marie's phone number and she drives off, much to the sadness of Dan.

Back at the house, Dan begins to tell his entire family about the lovely woman he met and shared all his intimate details with, when Mitch introduces him to his new girlfriend he met at his aerobic class, Marie, the same Marie that Dan just exposed all of his secrets and joys in life too. The pair acts as if they don't know each other, all along pining after one another. The entire family falls in love with her shortly after the girls win the crossword puzzle contest, thanks to her help and her stories about all her travels around the globe. She is the perfect fit for the family…but with what guy, Mitch or Dan?

I've been a big fan of Steve Carell since his early days on "The Daily Show" as well as being a huge fan of "The Office" before it became the smash water-cooler hit it has become for NBC, so I really went into the film with high expectations and they were not only met, but exceeded. As someone who loves romantic movies (Wicker Park, although more of a romantic mystery, and The Lake House are both excellent films), I was blown away by how much I enjoyed this movie. Steven Carells performance is top notch as a loving but somewhat depressed father, while Dane Cook takes his typical over-the-top act and thankfully tones it down for this film.

The only big issue I have with this film is that the cast is so huge that I can't for the life of me recall any of the names of the family members. The emphasis of the movie is so much on Dan, his three daughters and Mitch and Marie, that you simply do not know who everyone else is and whose kid belongs to whom. For instance I had absolutely no idea that Dan had a sister and kept wondering who the additional kids belonged to in the film as there was seemingly no interaction between them and their parents. It was however a delight to see John Mahoney (“Frasier”) as Dan's Father, but his role was almost non-existent.



.::SPECIAL FEATURES::.

All the features from the SD version are carried over onto this Blu-ray disc. The Blu-ray version also includes a different, more colorful menu theme.

Audio Commentary by Writer-Director Peter Hedges - A solid commentary that discusses the film including alternate takes, cut dialog, and other on-set issues. It's pretty entertaining and worth a listen to.

Deleted Scenes (HD; 20 minutes) - Next up we have eleven different deleted scenes presented with or without commentary. Unfortunately, all seemed to be cut for running time, which is a shame since there are some great scenes here that would have fit in just fine in the film, including an extended cut of Marty showing up at the cabin to see Cara and an extended look at the family talent show.

Outtakes (SD; 4 minutes) - Some scenes of flubbed lines and goofing off. Worth a look at the short run time, but nothing really exciting to write about. This is the only feature to be presented in SD.

Just Like the Family: The Making of Dan in Real Life (HD; 15 minutes) - A very short making of featurette with Steve Carell, Dane Cook, and Juliette Binoche. It's pretty insightful but unfortunately it's plagued with many scenes from the film so the time we spend with the actors discussing the film is very short.

Homemade Music: Creating the Score (HD; 10 minutes) - A look at the whimsical tunes that Sondre Lerche provided for the film. The tunes really add a lot to the film and this was a revealing look into them.

Also included are two easter eggs: "One More" featuring Steve Carell asking for more takes as well as "At The Park" featuring Juliette Binoche's entire mime act featured briefly in the film, and more so in the deleted scenes. I was however unable to find these in the menu but Buena Vista assured me they are present on the disc.



.::AUDIO & VIDEO::.

IMAGE

The film is presented in 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 on a BD-50 disc in 1.78:1 aspect ratio (theatrical AR was 1.85, however). The picture quality is superb on this release as the colors are very vibrant and clear. I did not notice any grain and there is no edge enhancement to be seen, kudos to Disney/Buena Vista on this. Certain scenes have a great 'pop' to them and outdoor scenes look beautiful. While I would not call this film demo material, it's certainly a great transfer and one of Buena Vistas finest. **** / *****

Buena Vista offers up uncompressed English PCM 5.1 Surround (48 kHz/24-bit) as well as Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround for English and French tracks and Dolby Digital 2.0 in Spanish. Since the film is very dialog heavy, don't expect anything that will blow you away. While some scenes use the PCM to its advantage, many are left empty. I was a bit disappointed in this as some of the scenes outside could have used this to their advantage but instead I was left with nothing. The film opts to exclude the typical pop hit of the month soundtrack and instead goes subtle with instrumental for nearly all of the film by the composer Sondre Lerche. Only one song is used in the film, "Let My Love Open the Door" by Pete Townshend, however it is worked into the film being sung by both Dan and Mitch. ***½ / *****



.::OVERALL::.

Overall, while the film does have a few issues, most are small and easily overlooked. The disc itself is a stunning example of a studio doing things correct on Blu-ray. The film is an absolute gem among the sea of films being released lately that all seem to be remakes or sequels, and is highly recommended for anyone that wants a good, clean, romantic comedy film that you can watch with your entire family.


Note: Images are not from Blu-Ray source and do not necessarily represent the true quality of the picture.