Dan in Real Life

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Dan in Real Life
Dan in real life.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Peter Hedges
Produced by Jonathan Shestack
Written by Pierce Gardner
Peter Hedges
Starring Steve Carell
Alison Pill
Juliette Binoche
Dianne Wiest
John Mahoney
Dane Cook
Music by Sondre Lerche
Cinematography Lawrence Sher
Edited by Sarah Flack
Distributed by Walt Disney Studios
Motion Pictures
Focus Features (International)
Icon Film Distribution (UK/Australia)
Release dates
October 26, 2007
Running time
98 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $25 million[1]
Box office $68.4 million[2]

Dan in Real Life is a 2007 American comedy-drama film directed by Peter Hedges, starring Steve Carell, Alison Pill, Juliette Binoche, Dianne Wiest, John Mahoney and Dane Cook.


Dan Burns (Steve Carell) is a newspaper advice columnist, a widower, and a controlling father to his children Jane (Alison Pill), Cara (Britt Robertson), and Lilly (Marlene Lawston) in the New Jersey suburbs. His column is in contention to be syndicated nationally. The family takes a trip to the Rhode Island home of his parents (Dianne Wiest and John Mahoney) for an annual family gathering—including his brother, Mitch (Dane Cook), a personal trainer based in New York City. Cara does not want to go, as she does not want to leave her boyfriend Marty (Felipe Dieppa) whom she claims to have fallen in love with in just three days. Dan, insisting that it is not possible to fall in love in three days, makes her go. The morning after their arrival, Dan's mother encourages him to go into town, to give his daughters some time to themselves. Dan visits a bookstore, where a customer named Marie (Juliette Binoche) mistakes him for an employee. Dan and Marie have an obvious connection and continue to talk over breakfast. Marie agrees to meet with Dan again before leaving, but tells Dan that she has a boyfriend. Dan returns to his parents' house and happily announces he has met someone new, only to find that Marie is there, her boyfriend being none other than Mitch.

Dan and Marie spend the majority of their time trying to deny their attraction to each other. Dan even agrees to a date with Ruthie Draper (Emily Blunt), a childhood friend of Dan and Mitch's who comes to visit and is now a plastic surgeon which makes Marie jealous to see them together. Cara's boyfriend Marty shows up, despite the long journey, but Dan sends him away. During a family talent show, Dan plays guitar while Mitch sings Pete Townshend's "Let My Love Open the Door". When Mitch forgets the lyrics at one point, Dan steps in, serenading Marie in front of his brother without him realizing it. Marie is unable to continue to deny her feelings for Dan, and she breaks up with Mitch, which leaves him distraught. Before leaving town, she calls Dan, and they meet at a bowling alley. After spending some time bowling, Marie and Dan share a kiss. At this point, Dan's family shows up at the bowling alley, just in time to see this. Surprised and infuriated at Dan for his betrayal, Mitch punches Dan in the face, and Marie runs out. Dan tries to follow, but he almost immediately crashes into a police car.

A short time later, Dan finally meets with a father and daughter who run the newspaper media company. Dan's family sits in on the meeting. Lost at what he has experienced, the meeting turns awkward, but unresolved. Dan talks to his daughters and admits he is in love with Marie, even though he has only known her three days. Encouraged by his parents and the three girls to "go get her", he goes after Marie. The film ends with Dan and his daughters in New York City, where they finally find Marie at her gym. As the two make eye contact, Dan narrates, over the scene, his first nationally-syndicated column, telling his readers that instead of planning ahead in life, they should "plan to be surprised".

The ending scene in the film shows Dan and Marie descending the steps of his parents' home and dancing following their wedding. Mitch is seen happily dancing with Ruthie Draper, and Cara is dancing with her boyfriend Marty.


Box office performance[edit]

The film opened October 26, 2007 in the United States and Canada and grossed $11.8 million in 1,921 theaters its opening weekend, ranking #2 at the box office.[3] As of February 2, 2011, it has grossed $68,377,859.

It was released on DVD and Blu-ray on March 11, 2008.

Critical reception[edit]

The film received generally positive reaction from film critics. As of May 1, 2008 on the review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film received positive reviews from 64% of its critics based on 154 reviews, and received a "fresh" rating.[4] On Metacritic, the film had an average score of 65 out of 100, based on 34 reviews, indicating generally favorable reviews.[5]

Time magazine's Richard Schickel named the film one of the Top 10 Movies of 2007, ranking it at #10, calling it a “sweet, yet tangy dessert” and Steve Carell’s performance “wonderful”.[6]


The opening scene was in New Jersey and then Rhode Island in the cities of Newport, East Greenwich, West Greenwich, Jamestown, Westerly, and Providence in November and December 2006. The opening scene was filmed at Seven Stars Bakery in Providence. However, the facade of the building and the interior are altered. First time Dan is pulled over by the Jamestown, Rhode Island police, he is on Ocean Ave Newport, Rhode Island. Second time Dan is pulled over by Mackerel Cove in Jamestown. In scenes filmed in Jamestown, two bridges are clearly visible: the Jamestown Bridge and its replacement, the Jamestown-Verrazzano Bridge. Demolition of the Jamestown Bridge was initiated on April 18, 2006. The film also cast local residents of neighboring towns and cities constiting of Middletown, North Kingstown and North Providence as Dan's nieces and nephews. The date scene was filmed in two different places in Westerly. The inside shots were filmed at Alley Katz Bowling center, while the exterior shots were filmed at Misquamicut Beach. What is now the Windjammer was dressed to look like the outside of the bowling center. The sunset scene with the entire family on the beach was filmed at Napatree Point in Westerly.


Norwegian singer-songwriter Sondre Lerche composed the majority of the music in the film, and has a cameo appearance in a scene at the end.

Full soundtrack listing:

  1. "Family Theme Waltz" - Sondre Lerche
  2. "To Be Surprised" - Sondre Lerche
  3. "I'll Be OK" - Sondre Lerche
  4. "Dan and Marie Picking Hum" - Sondre Lerche
  5. "My Hands Are Shaking" - Sondre Lerche
  6. "Dan in Real Life" - Sondre Lerche
  7. "Hell No" - Sondre Lerche and Regina Spektor
  8. "Family Theme" - Sondre Lerche
  9. "Fever" - A Fine Frenzy
  10. "Airport Taxi Reception" - Sondre Lerche and The Faces Down Quartet
  11. "Dan and Marie Melody" - Sondre Lerche
  12. "Human Hands" - Sondre Lerche and The Faces Down Quartet
  13. "I'll Be OK" (Instrumental Reprise) - Sondre Lerche
  14. "Let My Love Open The Door" - Pete Townshend
  15. "Dan and Marie Finale Theme" - Sondre Lerche
  16. "Modern Nature" - Sondre Lerche and Lillian Samdal
  17. "Ruthie Pigface Draper" (bonus track) - Dane Cook and Norbert Leo Butz, taken from a scene in the movie

"Mr. Blue Sky" by the Electric Light Orchestra is featured in the TV and radio advertisements for the movie, as well as "Let My Love Open the Door" by Pete Townshend and "Henrietta" by The Fratellis. The club mix of Inaya Day's "Nasty Girl" and Earth, Wind & Fire's "September '99 (Phats & Small Remix)" are also featured in separated scenes in the movie but are not on the soundtrack. "Human Hands" written by Elvis Costello (original version appears on his album Imperial Bedroom).


External links[edit]