Dan in Real Life (Blu-ray)

January 28, 2012 7 Min Read

Review by: Matt Brighton

Plot: What’s it about?

Over the past few years, I’ve become a big fan of Steve Carell. I saw him briefly on some segments of “The Daily Show” and after I saw him in “Anchorman” and “The 40 Year-Old Virgin” I figured that we’d be seeing much more of him. As it turns out, that’s a good thing and when I saw his performance in “Little Miss Sunshine” I knew this guy would be around for a while. Carell seems to have a very dry wit and doesn’t seem to take himself too seriously. For an actor, that can be either really good or really bad but I think he’s managed to find just the right balance between Hollywood superstar and the everyday man that he embodies. Lest we forget, he’s also the star of “The Office” on television. Suffice it to say, Mr. Carell has been busy for the last few years. Last summer’s “Evan Almighty” wasn’t all it was cracked up to be and with “Dan in Real Life”, this was a chance to get back to something a little more, well, human.

Dan (Steve Carell) writes a column in a local New Jersey newspaper giving out relationship advice. Think of it as “Dear Abby” only Abby’s a guy. He’s lost his wife to disease a few years earlier and he’s left raising his three daughters by himself. The family heads up to Rhode Island for a family reunion of sorts only for Dan to bump into Marie (Juliette Binoche) at a book store. The two hit if off and when Dan tells his brother (Dane Cook) about his encounter, he’s floored to learn that Marie is his brother’s new girlfriend. Naturally, the weekend is uncomfortable for both of them as the two try to continue to get to know each other without letting on that they already do know each other. Dan’s daughters aren’t a whole lot of help as they all have issues of their own. Jane (Alison Pill) wants to drive, Cara (Brittany Robertson) is head over heels with boys and Lilly (Marlene Lawston) is too young to really understand what’s going on. Add it all up and Dan’s life isn’t exactly what dreams are made of.

There are parts of “Dan in Real Life” that really made me think and there are some truly touching moments in the film. I don’t think we’re on new territory, though. I felt like this movie was somewhat of a mix between “While you were Sleeping” and “Meet the Parents”. At times, there was just too much going on and it did make the film hard to follow a bit. The plot is a bit predictable and though I won’t divulge what happens in the end, I can say that it won’t exactly blow your mind. Carell is good in his role here, don’t get me wrong, it’s the kind of role that he does well in but I felt the script could have used a few more twists and turns. All that aside, “Dan in Real Life” is enjoyable and certainly wroth a look, but Steve Carell already has racked up some far more memorable roles that are worth seeing.

Video: How does it look?

“Dan in Real Life” is shown in a 1.85:1 AVC HD transfer that, for lack of a better word, could use some work. I felt that the entire film has a very burnt out, over-saturated look to it. It’s as if everyone has a suntan or something. Thera are some moments in which the Blu-ray really struts its stuff, but I noticed a fair amount of grain in the backgrounds of several scenes. I’ve seen what Blu-ray is capable of and this movie is certainly not the shining example of what that is. By no means is this a bad transfer, though, it lacks any sort of edge enhancement and aside from a few issues here and there I got what I expected. Disney is among the leaders of producing some very top notch discs and while “Dan in Real Life” doesn’t exactly set any new standards, viewers shouldn’t be disappointed.

Audio: How does it sound?

The PCM uncompressed track is kind of wasted here as “Dan in Real Life” isn’t a movie that was meant to showcase any sort of dynamic audio. The mix is strong and vocals take a front seat here as the movie is, for the most part, very dialogue driven. I can’t really site any sort of surround sound that left a lasting impression on me, rather this is a pretty straight-forward mix that we’d expect from this sort of film. I can’t really fault the uncompressed soundtrack because, like the video, I’ve heard what Blu-ray is capable of. “Dan in Real Life” won’t exactly light up the speakers but it’s not bad either.

Supplements: What are the extras?

“Dan in Real Life” comes to Blu-ray with a few good supplements though they don’t really add a whole lot to the movie. The best is, naturally, the audio commentary by director Peter Hedges. Hedges talks of working with Carell and his desire to only have him in the film. It’s a good, technical commentary and one that true fans of the movie will enjoy. We then have two canned featurettes: “Just like family” and “Creating the score”, some outtakes and some deleted scenes with optional director commentary.

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