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

(U.S and Canada)

Focus Features (International)
Icon Film Distribution (UK/Australia)
Release dates
  • October 26, 2007 (2007-10-26)
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, and stars 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 single-parent to his three girls. The family takes a trip to the rambling, Rhode Island home of his parents (Dianne Wiest and John Mahoney) for an annual family gathering. Also in attendance are Dan's sister and brother with their families and Dan's younger brother Mitch (Dane Cook).

The morning after their arrival, Dan meets Marie (Juliette Binoche) in a bookshop. They share a muffin and a heart-felt chat, although Marie gently warns Dan that she has a boyfriend. Dan returns to his parents' house and announces that he has 'met someone'. Brother Mitch introduces his new girlfriend Annie. Lo and behold, Dan's Marie is Mitch's Annie. Dan is disheartened and resists his father's relationship advice about finding someone of his own.

Dan reluctantly agrees to a foursome dinner with their once unattractive childhood friend, "pig-faced" Ruthie (Emily Blunt). Marie jealously watches Dan and Ruthie. The next morning, Dan endures her 'punishment' for his late night with Ruthie by eating the burnt pancakes which she serves him. Marie and Dan meet to talk at a bowling alley. The meeting evolves into a date and finally a passionate kiss, but unfortunately Dan's entire family arrives to bowl. Mitch punches Dan in the face, and Marie hurries out

The plot resolves with Dan and his daughters going to New York City, where they finally find Marie at her gym. As he makes eye contact with her, Dan, in voice-over, tells the readers of his advice column that instead of merely planning ahead in life, they should "plan to be surprised".

The film ends with Dan and Marie celebrating their wedding at his parents' Rhode Island home, and Mitch happily dancing with Ruthie.


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 review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes reported a 64% approval rating with an average rating of 6.2/10 based on 169 reviews. The site's consensus reads: "The fine performances elevate Dan in Real Life beyond its sentimental plot."[4] Review aggregator Metacritic, which provides a score out of 100 based on a weighted average, gave the film a score of 65/100 from 34 reviews, indicating "generally favorable reviews." [5]


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. The first time Dan is pulled over by the Jamestown, Rhode Island police, he is on Ocean Ave Newport, Rhode Island. The 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 consisting 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]