Sunday, April 20, 2008

Steve Carrell On and Off - Dan in Real Life and The Office

Dan in Real Life
The Office - Chair Model - Ep. 410

How come Dan In Real Life didn't do better?

I know it wasn't flashy or anything but considering it starred Steve Carrell and Dane Cook (I'm not big on him but I know those college kids are) and got decent reviews, it should have done better. And it had Juliette Binoche. And Emily Blunt. And Diane Wiest. And Amy Ryan. And Broadway's Norbert Leo Butz (Wicked, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Is he Dead?). And Jessica Hecht (Sideways, Friends). And Allison Pill. And Frasier's John Mahoney. How did I not know the cast was so great before I saw it?

How did this miss? It was like a non-Christmas The Family Stone without the dying thing. Oh wait, I guess that never did well at the box office either, but it's become a sentimental fave. Dan in Real Life is more of a romantic comedy within a family dramedy and I loved the grounded feel to the whole thing. I even liked Dane Cook in it.

And Steve Carrell is marvelous against Juliette Binoche, which already was a match I never could have imagined (and then add Dane Cook as Carrell's brother and it made one of the weirdest mix of actors in a movie last year).His Dan is both charming and romantic and sad and heartbreaking as he deals with being a widow raising his 3 daughters on his own, then falling in love with a woman who turns out to be his brothers girlfriend.

So it saddens me that Steve Carrell and Rainn Wilson are becoming really annoying on The Office. It's not just the uneven return since the writer's strike. It was starting to creep up in the fall episodes (the hour longs were probably too much), but between the whole Jan break up and Michael just becoming so unbelievable in his stupidity and awkwardness (more than usual), it's getting back into the too-painful-to-watch that the original excelled at (but it was a short series so I could deal). At this point, the only bright spot has been Jim and Pam now that their relationship seems full steam AND Jim has bought an engagement ring!!! What has usually been a showkiller has been continued with sharp but cute observations and the playfulness keeps the show enjoyable.

That and any response by Creed. Seriously, where is this guy from? Creed is waiting for Michael to order his new chair so that Pam can get his old chair and her chair would go to Creed so that he would have two chairs. Love the way he thinks.

Meanwhile, Pam sets Michael up with her landlord and the sweet if homely lady gets outright rejected by Michael in a the horror shows of blind dates. This is where Steve Carrell as Michael becomes off, though I'm sad to say some of that credit goes to B.J. Novak for writing more painfully awkward situations where Michael just hits new human lows. I know he's supposed to be a little blind to normal human social rules and I know he's hurting after breaking up with Jan but Michael's generally a good person at heart, so his response to his date was a times just plain mean and nasty and it was not fun to watch.

Luckily, movies like Dan in Real Life still prove Steve Carrell can still be fun to watch, let's hope for the turnaround on The Office.

Dan in Real Life = B+ (8.5/10)


Linz McC said...

I completely agree on both. I thought Steve Carrell nailed the character in Dan in Real Life and made him pretty real, mostly serious, and funny in small bits when needed (oh the dancing!). I was surprised at how well he played "serious."

Esther said...

The coffee shop scene early in the movie was filmed about a half-mile up the street from where I live!

International Jock Crocs, Inc. Bare Necessities>