Are you sick of Hallmark movies? Is Deck the Halls a little too much? I personally just want a good holiday story where the family isn’t all tinsel and hot chocolate. I love this season, and Christmas, but it just feels like false cheer. Holidays are stressful and awkward and hanging out with your family for days on end isn’t the magical dream that you see in the movies.
Just like The Office isn’t a story about a people working in glamorous careers and meeting equally put-together people, media about real people is so much better than perfect humans. We also see the beauty and awkwardness in relationships between people. Jim and Pam’s story is beautiful because they are so imperfect and awkward. Meanwhile, Hallmark actors are always cheerful, always get along with their friends, and the attractive love interest instantly falls for them. They are awkward at times, it is always charming, and their love never feels real or painful. We know who will end up together, and that no true obstacles will come that a little holiday magic can’t fix.
I’d much prefer seeing normal people just being awkward but look for love in all the wrong places. If there is one person who fits this ideal best, it is Steve Carell. Michael Scott is the most uncomfortably awkward human on television, but he is also one of the most likable. In this movie, luckily, we don’t have to deal with the cringe factor.
If you like Steve Carell being serious, and pining after someone he can’t date, this movie is a good watch. Dan is just living in real life, trying to find love, but turns out life isn’t that easy. Dan in Real Life is available to watch on Disney Plus and Amazon Prime.
Ever dream of meeting the love of your life in a bookstore? Dan in Real Life turns a classic trope on its side when she shows up at their family weekend as his brother’s new girlfriend.
If you’re not quite sold yet, I get it. I saw this movie on Amazon and to be honest I wasn’t sure if it’d be that good. I love Steve Carell in The Office, but I wasn’t sure how he would be as a romantic lead. He’s just so silly to be a pining lover, to my surprise, it worked. He was a great actor in this movie and the romance is really sweet and realistic.
Note: the movie references Emily Dickinson Poetry and Flannery O’Connor’s A Good Man is Hard to Find. Both authors are fantastic, and Dan picks these books up when he is looking for recommendations for Marie.
It doesn’t hurt that he and Marie (Juliette Binoche) have amazing chemistry. The story begins by establishing Dan as a widow with three daughters. He writes for a newspaper as an advice columnist and lives a pretty normal life. Dan is known for giving great advice to others, but he’s not so great at following it himself. He is a caring dad, but he can be a bit overprotective.
The love in this movie is very dramatic; Dan and Marie are attracted to each other, but Marie likes his brother as well and wants to see where it goes with him. She is also attracted to Dan and wishes they had met under different circumstances. The tension is intense when they are together and often funny.
The problem is they can’t tell anyone. Dan’s brother Mitch was a bit of a player in the past and isn’t the best with words, but he’s not too bad of a guy. He’s one of those gym-goers, and I can understand why the two get together at the beginning. I definitely rooting for Dan over Mitch, but Mitch wasn’t one of those jerks who the sweet lead would never think of interacting with in the first place.
Dan’s daughter Cara (Britt Robertson) is also in love with a boy named Marty. It was funny seeing the contrast between their young love and Dan’s hidden feelings for Marie. His other daughters are pretty funny too. They are sweet and not overly cutesy.
Their relationship with their father is pretty normal, the two oldest daughters are often annoyed with him and his youngest daughter still likes him. The actresses playing his daughters were pretty good. Dan is a good dad too, with Steve Carell, I expected him to be overly awkward or incompetent, but he was actually really sweet. There are some stereotypical family bonding activities like playing football in the backyard and charades, and they are fun, if a little cheesy.
Steve Carell’s acting is amazing in this film, he goes from sweet and romantic to grumpy and heartbroken and he’s never unbelievable. He is understandably heartbroken, but he keeps it to himself mostly. He’s never mad at Marie for no reason and he doesn’t take his anger out on his brother. He’s a decent person, but like all romantic protagonists, he makes a few mistakes. Yes, he pines a bit and is overdramatic, but it’s all part of the fun in a romantic comedy. I laughed out loud and almost shed a tear at the romantic scenes.
The movie shows that sometimes you have to be open to surprises. The timing isn’t always right, but that doesn’t mean you can’t make it work. I could predict what would happen at the end, but I enjoyed the ride. It works out in the end, but I feel like it could happen in real life. It’s not totally unbelievable. There are no Christmas miracles or anything like that, and for that reason, I would recommend this movie to anyone interested in a heartfelt romance who could use a break from the Hallmark movies.
If you’re curious about the pancakes, there is a reason for them. Hint: its sweet.