Dan in Real Life

Newspaper columnist Dan Burns (Steve Carell) dispenses advice to families in his column, but his own personal life is in shambles. The widowed father of three girls is afraid of letting go and letting his kids grow up. He's so consumed with their lives that he has no time to live his own.

But things are about to change for Dan as he takes his daughters to Rhode Island for the annual family gathering. On a visit to a local used-book store, Dan meets the woman of his dreams, Marie (Juliette Binoche), and ultimately scores her phone number. But Dan can't catch a break when, later that day, his brother Mitch (Dane Cook) introduces him to his new girlfriend—who just happens to be Marie!

After viewing the trailer for Dan in Real Life, I had high expectations for a laugh-out-loud comedy. What I discovered, though, is that this film is more dramatic in nature, and the laughs are more authentic to real life than Hollywood-inspired. The performances are excellent all around; kudos to Steve Carell for tackling a more serious role—the chemistry with Juliette Binoche is genuine and heartfelt.

Disney has consistently been one of the best producers of Blu-ray content in terms of video quality. Unfortunately, this isn't one of the studio's best-looking titles. The high-bitrate AVC encode has excellent resolution, but the color saturation is overcooked, and the flesh tones have an amber appearance, lending an unnatural look to the movie. Exterior shots fare much better, looking far more natural. Overall, the film doesn't look bad by any means, but it just doesn't offer that looking-through-the-window experience that other Disney Blu-ray titles provide.

There are several audio options on the disc, but the best by far is the uncompressed PCM 5.1 track (48kHz/24-bit). The mix isn't what you would use for demo material, but the dynamics and clarity never left me wanting more. The soundtrack is also somewhat front-heavy, which is consistent with the movie's genre.

The bonus features on the BD50 disc include 20 minutes of deleted scenes, a featurette on the musical score, and a "making of" featurette, all of which are presented in HD. There are also four minutes of outtakes in standard definition, but they aren't that entertaining. For fans of audio commentaries, writer and director Peter Hedges provides his take on the production and how personal this movie was for him.

Dan in Real Life is a pleasant film with a satisfying ending and is well worth the time invested. The cast is first-rate, and it's nice to see Carell grow as an actor in a similar way as Jim Carrey by branching out into more challenging roles. Be sure to check this one out.

Film: 7 out of 10
Picture: 7 out of 10
Sound: 8 out of 10

Review System

Source
Sony PlayStation 3

Display
JVC DLA-RS1 projector
Stewart FireHawk screen (76.5" wide, 16:9)

Electronics
Denon 4308CI A/V receiver (used as a pre/pro)
Anthem PVA-7 power amplifier
Belkin PF60 power conditioner

Speakers
M&K S-150s (L, C, R)
M&K SS-150s (LS, RS, LSB, RSB)
SVS PC-Ultra subwoofer

Cables
Monoprice HDMI cables (source to pre-pro)
Best Deal analog-audio cables
PureLink HDC Fiber Optic HDMI Cable System (15 meters) from pre/pro to projector

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