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PCR #396 (Vol. 8, No. 43) This edition is for the week of October 22--28, 2007.

This Week's PCR
Movie Review
"Dan In Real Life"

Movie review by:
Michael A. Smith

Movies are rated 0 to 4 stars

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The ScreamFest '07 Experience  by Chris Woods
Halloweenapalooza: The Halloween Horror Picture Show '07  by C. A. Passinault
Screamfest 2007  by ED Tucker
Halloween & Horrors Overload - 4 Big Events Over One Weekend  by Andy Lalino
"Dan In Real Life"  by Mike Smith
Documenting Living Saints  by Paul Guzzo
Last Week .... The Gang's All Here .... And? .... Where's The Treat? .... .... .... .... .... Whatever Happened To--? Chapter 31: Charles Durning - Next Week!  by Mike Smith
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Starring: Steve Carell, Juliette Binoche, Dane Cook, Diane Wiest and John Mahnoey
Directed by: Peter Hedges
Rated: PG 13
Running Time: 1 hour 44 mins

It’s very difficult for an actor perceived as a comedian to cross that rare bridge to dramatic actor. John Belushi was on his way with more “straight” roles in “Neighbors” and “Continental Divide” before his death a quarter century ago. It took Robin Williams 20 years to graduate from Mork to Oscar winner. Though he’s a past Oscar nominee, Bill Murray had to endure howls from the critics for his first dramatic film, “The Razor’s Edge.” Even Jim Carrey, who did Oscar quality work in “The Truman Show” and “Man on the Moon,” has found it hard for his fans to accept him as anything but the guy who talks out of his backside. Joining this list of actors is Steve Carell, whose success in “The 40-Year-Old Virgin” and “Evan Almighty” along with his role in television’s “The Office,” pretty much label him “funny.” A small role in last year’s “Little Miss Sunshine” gave a small glimpse at his dramatic side. That glimpse becomes a full fledged revelation in “Dan in Real Life.”

Dan Burns is a widower raising three young daughters. The oldest (Alison Pill) just got her driver’s license. The youngest (Marlene Lawston) is in elementary school. And the middle one (Brittany Robertson) is driving him crazy by talking about boys and walking around in shorts that read “You Wish” on the seat. Dan is the author of an advice column for the local newspaper (the film and his column share the same name). Dan and the girls are on their way to Rhode Island, where Dan’s parents (Wiest and Mahoney) host the entire family for a week in the fall. Upon arrival Dan goes to the local book store where he meets Marie (Binoche), who mistakes him for an employee. After suggesting a series of books Dan comes clean and the two share coffee. It’s obvious they’ve made a connection but Marie apologetically says her goodbyes, revealing that she has just begun a new relationship. Parting ways, Dan heads back to the family cabin. Imagine his surprise when he meets his brother Mitch’s (Cook) new girlfriend.

Cleverly written and directed, “Dan in Real Life” is that rare adult comedy that you can take all ages to. The characters are clearly drawn, with each given something that makes them stand out. Carell continues his march as this generation’s Tom Hanks, equally comfortable and at home in comedy or drama. The majority of the supporting cast is just as good, especially Binoche, who has only appeared sporadically in English language films since winning an Oscar a decade ago for “The English Patient.” She and Carell share a true chemistry, which makes their scenes together very important. The only drawback is Cook, whose comedy or appeal I have yet to understand. I swear, if I see one more of his commercials about the World Series I may hate baseball forever.

A nice break from the vampires and new “Saw” sequel that fills the multiplex this time of year, “Dan in Real Life” puts the romance back into romantic comedy. On a scale of zero to four stars I give “Dan in Real Life”

This week's movie review of "Dan In Real Life" is ©2007 by Michael A. Smith.  All graphics this page are creations of Nolan B. Canova, ©2007, all rights reserved. All contents of "Nolan's Pop Culture Review" are ©2007 by Nolan B. Canova.