Dan in Real Life

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 in Real Life
Dan in real life.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byPeter Hedges
Written byPierce Gardner
Peter Hedges
Produced byJonathan Shestack
Brad Epstein[1]
StarringSteve Carell
Juliette Binoche
Dane Cook
John Mahoney
Emily Blunt
Dianne Wiest
CinematographyLawrence Sher
Edited bySarah Flack
Music bySondre Lerche
Distributed byWalt Disney Studios Motion Pictures (United States and Canada)
Focus Features International (International)
Release date
  • October 26, 2007 (2007-10-26)
Running time
98 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$25 million[2]
Box office$68.4 million[3]

This is the first Touchstone Pictures film to be distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures after Disney retired the Buena Vista brand from its distribution division.


Dan Burns is a newspaper advice columnist, widower, and single-parent to his three daughters, living in North Jersey. The family takes a trip to the oceanside Rhode Island home of his parents for an annual family gathering. Also in attendance are Dan's brother and sister with their families, along with Dan's younger brother Mitch, who is known for his carefree lifestyle.

The morning after their arrival, Dan meets Marie in a bookshop. They share a muffin and a heart-felt conversation, although Marie gently warns Dan that she has a boyfriend. Dan returns to his parents' house and announces that he has "met someone". Mitch introduces his new girlfriend, who turns out to be Marie. Dan is disheartened and resists his father's relationship advice about finding someone of his own.

Dan reluctantly agrees to a double date with their once unattractive childhood friend, Ruthie "Pig Face" Draper. 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. Tension grows between Dan and Marie, culminating at the family talent show. Dan accompanies Mitch on the guitar as Mitch sings, "Let My Love Open the Door". During the bridge, Dan begins to sing too, seemingly to Marie. The next morning, Marie breaks up with Mitch. However, Marie and Dan meet to talk at a bowling alley. The meeting evolves into a date and finally a passionate kiss, interrupted when Dan's entire family arrives to bowl. Mitch punches Dan in the face, and Marie hurries out. Meanwhile, Dan's middle daughter, Cara, grows more frustrated because of his meddling in her relationship with her boyfriend, Marty.

Dan and his daughters travel 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, Mitch happily dancing with Ruthie, and Cara happily dancing with Marty, whom Dan has now accepted.


  • Steve Carell as Dan Burns, widower, and father of 3 daughters
  • Juliette Binoche as Marie Diamond, Mitch's girlfriend and Dan's love interest later 2nd wife
  • Alison Pill as Jane Burns, eldest daughter of Dan
  • Brittany Robertson as Cara Burns, second daughter of Dan
  • Marlene Lawston as Lilly Burns, youngest daughter of Dan
  • Dane Cook as Mitch Burns, Dan's brother (as well as the youngest of all his siblings.)
  • John Mahoney as John "Poppy" Burns, Dan's father
  • Dianne Wiest as Nana Burns, Dan's mother
  • Norbert Leo Butz as Clay Burns, Dan's brother
  • Jessica Hecht as Amy Burns, Dan's sister
  • Amy Ryan as Eileen Burns, Clay's wife
  • Frank Wood as Howard Wilson, Amy's husband
  • Emily Blunt as Dr. Ruthie "Pigface" Draper, Mitch's love interest
  • Felipe Dieppa as Marty, Cara's boyfriend
  • Bernie McInerney as James Lamson, newspaper proprietor
  • Amy Landecker as Cindy Lamson, newspaper editor
  • Matthew Morrison as Policeman
  • Stephen Mellor as Bookstore Clerk
  • Henry Miller as Will Burns, Clay and Eileen's oldest son
  • Ella Miller as Rachel Burns, Clay and Eileen's oldest daughter
  • Cameron "CJ" Adams as Elliot Burns, Clay and Eileen's youngest son
  • Jessica Lussier as Jessica Burns, Clay and Eileen's youngest daughter
  • Seth D'Antuono as Gus Wilson, Amy & Howard's son
  • Margot Janson as Olivia Wilson, Amy & Howard's oldest daughter
  • Willa Cuthrell-Tuttleman as Bella Wilson, Amy & Howard's youngest daughter
  • Shana Carr as Suzanne Burns, Dan's late wife
  • Lucas Hedges as Lily’s Dance Partner


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.[4] As of February 2, 2011, it has grossed $68,377,859. It is the first Touchstone movie to be released under the Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures name following the retirement of the previous Buena Vista Pictures Distribution.

It was released on DVD and Blu-ray on March 11, 2008.


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 Avenue in 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 (Vanity 6 song)" and Earth, Wind & Fire's "September '99 (Phats & Small Remix)" are also featured in separate scenes in the movie but are not on the soundtrack. "Human Hands" written by Elvis Costello (the original version appears on his album Imperial Bedroom).


On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 65% based on 170 reviews, with an average rating of 6.2/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "The fine performances elevate Dan in Real Life beyond its sentimental plot."[5] On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 65 out of 100, based on 34 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews."[6] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "B+" on an A+ to F scale.[7]

Some critics described it as a non-holiday holiday film that is derived from that genre and the rom-com genre in general.[8][9] A. O. Scott of The New York Times wrote "not to expect too much from Dan in Real Life that way you can be pleasantly surprised" but did while drawing attention to characterization questions regarding the female roles.[10]


  1. ^ a b c "Dan in Real Life (2007) - Financial Information". The Numbers. Retrieved 18 April 2021.
  2. ^ "Box office / business for Dan in Real Life (2007)". The Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 2009-04-16.
  3. ^ "Dan in Real Life (2007)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2009-04-16.
  4. ^ "Dan in Real Life (2007) - Weekend Box Office". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2007-10-30.
  5. ^ "Dan in Real Life (2007)". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixster. Retrieved May 18, 2015.
  6. ^ "Dan in Real Life Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive (CBS Corporation). Retrieved May 18, 2015.
  7. ^ "Find CinemaScore" (Type "Dan in Real Life" in the search box). CinemaScore. Retrieved November 5, 2018.
  8. ^ Wilonski, Robert (October 25, 2007). "'Steve Carrell's Strike Two: Dan in Real Life'". Dallas Observer. Retrieved February 18, 2018.
  9. ^ Bradshaw, Peter (January 11, 2008). "'Dan in Real Life' - Review". The Guardian. Retrieved February 18, 2018.
  10. ^ Scott, A.O. (October 26, 2007). "'A Family Just Like Yours (if You Lived in a Movie)'". The New York Times. Retrieved February 18, 2018.

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