Dan in Real Life

I meant to write about this movie when I first saw it several months ago.  It’s a really good movie, but it left me emotionally stirred and I couldn’t figure out why.  The whole time boy and I were watching it I fluctuated between really wanting to turn it off and really liking everything about it.  B/c I’m a girl like that.

But I think there were 2 things that caused this: the love story and the family aspect.

The love story – Steve Carell’s wife died and left him raising 3 teenage girls that hate him in only the way teenage girls can.  He’s a funny-tragic character and is too hung up on his dead wife to date.  (I know, I’m not good at movie reviews.)  But anyway, he meets a girl and decides she’s his 100% perfect girl only to find out it’s his brother gal.  Hysterical temper tantrums of self-pity ensue (I so relate to temper tantrums of self-pity.)  It’s all about mixed up timing when you meet the one you want to be with, but trying to go after it anyway.  I like this idea, because I think timing is an important element to love, but no one goes without getting hurt in real life.  And in the movie it seemed too simple.  That was my first frustration.

The family story – I don’t know where it took place.  Over Thanksgiving in a big wooden house somewhere in upstate New York.  Big family, all together, playing games like crossword puzzle competitions, talent shows pulled together in the living room and casual dinners around a big table.  Kids, grand-kids, brothers and sisters and cousins.  I don’t have any cousins.  And my family is scattered all over the place.  And our holidays went from formal dining to a split between having to choose between real family and step family.  I turned to boy during the movie and asked if he could imagine having a family reunion like that where everyone gets together to play board games.  No, he couldn’t imagine it either.  But, it looked really nice.  It looked like fun.  And this frustrated me because I think I’ve convinced myself that families like that don’t exist.  All families are highly dysfunctional and you can’t convince me that there wasn’t some cousin Johnny cut out from the scenes because he was drunk at the other end of the table shouting obscenities at someone.  The more I watched the more I wanted to turn it off but the more I couldn’t turn away. 

I expect there to be a big divide between friends who know exactly what I’m talking about and those that don’t have a clue.  Scenes like that in a movie make me want to not have kids because I don’t want to have them if I don’t have a big family to surround them with.  Of course the family scenes were a bit idealized in the movie, but I’ve seen families make it work.  Anyway, it’s something to think about.

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2 Comments

Filed under Movies

2 responses to “Dan in Real Life

  1. I haven’t seen this movie yet but it is on my list.

    Brad and I do come from families that play board games at holidays (granted there is probably far more sibling competition and ‘discussion’ than the movie most likely portrayed – at least on my side). I don’t think that my parents/family became the family that we are today solely because of my grandparents. More because my parent were quite intentional in their parenting, deciding to continue some parenting concepts and to completely change others.

    My mom is a great mother because she chooses to be a great mother. It really has little to do with her background. I know it was hard for my mom to watch other kids have ‘functional’ families as a child but it really impacted her as a parent.

    My dad is part of a big family that started with two single children that got married (his parents wanted to keep the family farm to give to one child). Yet, that only child had six kids and so on. Pretty soon we became a big family!

    I guess what I’m trying to say is – don’t rule out kids (there are so many other variables, of course) because you don’t have a big family. Who knows, there might be a crossword puzzle enthusiast that is also a great, great, grandchild someday!

    Just a thought (or thoughts) 🙂

  2. i think this is the best comment anyone has ever left.

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