Tuesday, March 11, 2008

new on dvd...

I don't often get excited for DVD releases, but this week had two winners. "Dan In Real Life" and "No Country for Old Men" both hit the local retail shelves. One store had them both for 30 bucks, not sure why they would package those two together, but I personally benefited, so yeah.

Everyone knows about the Oscar barrage that the Coen Brothers pulled in. Deservedly so. The movie was a masterpiece. No one could ever make the word "friendo" sound so ominous like Javier Bardem did.

But honestly, I was more excited for the release of Steve Carrell's brilliant tragic romantic comedy, "Dan In Real Life." Knowing Mr Carrell as we all do from his days at The Daily Show and then his most visible role as the endearingly hapless head of a paper company branch office. Of course you can't overlook his strange, comedic roles in various films ranging from a middle aged man with no romantic prospects, to a mentally deficient weatherman.

Perhaps his most interesting offering to date (even for a self-professed fan of the majority of his work) is this title role of the single dad who writes an advice column but can make no sense of his own life. Dan bumbles his relationships with his own kids, with his family, with every woman he meets, but maintains his level head when it comes to other people's problems.

Written and directed by Peter Hedges, who penned "What's Eating Gilbert Grape" and adapted Nick Hornby's inventive novel, "About a Boy," for the screen, the script fall just short of greatness, but is lifted back up by the cast. This ensemble looks at first glance to be a mish-mosh of hey-its-that-guys but melds together for a forceful dramatic performance.

Carrell's performance is the key to it all. As he often tends to go for the, um, less dramatic parts, I was doubtful about seeing him try his hand at strict drama with a touch of comedy, but I was pleasantly surprised by his ability to carry a cast full of heavywieghts like John Mahoney, Dianne Wiest and Juliette Binoche. With so many talented character actors around him, Carrell still manages to shine with wit and substance.

I'd give this one an A-
--John Berry--


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