Dan in Real Life

Movie review by
Heather Boerner, Common Sense Media
Dan in Real Life Movie Poster Image
Parents recommendPopular with kids
Love hurts in predictable rom com. OK for teens.
  • PG-13
  • 2007
  • 110 minutes

Parents say

age 12+
Based on 14 reviews

Kids say

age 11+
Based on 27 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Dan gets several tickets and has his license revoked for poor driving. He flirts with his brother's girlfriend. Dan and Marie lie about their attraction. The family makes up a song making fun of how a woman looked in grade school. Cara uses an anti-gay slur in passing. Eventually, Dan learns to be honest and trustworthy.


Some comic pratfalls, including Dan falling out a second-story window and getting hit in the face with a football. Mitch punches Dan. Dan backs into a police car.


Cara makes out with her boyfriend. Marie undresses and gets in the shower with a (clothed) Dan (only her bare shoulders are visible). Clay makes veiled references to masturbation. Dan and Marie kiss.


One use each of "damn" and "f--k." Cara says something is "so queer."


Dan mentions the TV show Bonanza.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Some wine drinking by adults, but no one gets drunk.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that although this Steve Carell comedy is fairly tame overall, it does include some violence, innuendo, and other iffy behavior (Dan and Marie share a shower, they lie to Dan's family, and Dan flirts with Marie inappropriately in front of his whole family). Dan also gets a black eye and a broken nose and is in a minor car accident. A mother's death is mentioned, and a teenager lies to her father about dating a boy (he sneaks up to make out with her on the family vacation). One character makes jokes about "self-love" and "unclogging the pipes," which may lead tweens to ask about sex and masturbation. Language includes one use of "f--k."

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byDanininreallife.com July 2, 2020

Laughs and some sensual moments

This movie had lots of laughs! There are some sensual moments that went over my son's head(now 12) and he was like: "Is this by-sex or orial-sex?... Continue reading
Adult Written bytootoolvr14 April 9, 2008

Could have been PG

The review said the f bomb was used once. I did not hear it used. if it was it was whispered under someone's breath. And I didn't hear the d word eith... Continue reading
Teen, 15 years old Written byShowman movie13 July 20, 2019

Warning: lots of sex

I loved this slap/funny humor movie. It had plenty of sex and rare/brief/mild violence. The only one is Dan rolling down the roof after a sex/nude encounter wit... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written byMoviegirl700 November 4, 2019

Funny movie has language, sensuality, innuendo.

A good movie for 12+! So funny, with so many fun cringe worthy moments, and all in all makes a superb comedy!
Messages/Models: 3/5 True love, honesty, friendshi... Continue reading

What's the story?

Four years after his beloved wife's death, newspaper columnist Dan (Steve Carell) is devoted to their three daughters, but the teen girls are quickly moving out of his control. Cara (Brittany Robertson) is in love for the first time and lies to her father about it, sneaking off to smooch her new fella. Parent-ified Jane (Alison Pill) is 17 and ready to drive, and Lilly (Marlene Lawston) is sick of being coddled. As Dan's father (John Mahoney) aptly remarks when Dan says his children hate him, "You must be doing something right." After arriving at his parents' home for a mythically happy family reunion, Dan meets and falls for Marie (Juliette Binoche). The problem? She's already spoken for -- by Dan's hyper, self-involved brother, Mitch (Dane Cook). Will Dan be able to keep his feelings to himself?

Is it any good?

It may not exactly be real life, but Dan in Real Life is a fun way to spend two hours with your family. This a romantic comedy convinced that misery and self-abdication are the true signs of love; it's a typical movie message, but maybe not a good one for teens who already make a habit of dramatic suffering. So it's a good thing the movie is well-done and warm-hearted. Yes, it's predictable and unrealistic, but it aims for a kind of "human comedy," as Marie announces on first meeting Dan. The film does have other types of funny as well, including guffaw-worthy moments mostly surrounding some great lines your kids may end up repeating back to you.

Director Peter Hedges uses his cast to great effect: Cook stays occupied with outlandish songs and aerobics routines, and Carell hams it up dancing and gets in a few fun one-liners, too. The young actors all pull their own weight, and Mahoney and the renowned Dianne Wiest provide the perfect backdrop to the film as Dan's content parents.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the difference between how love is portrayed in movies and how it is in real life. Why do you think so many movies pair depression and misery with love? Is it funny to watch romantic movies like that? Why or why not? How fun do you think it would be to actually be in a relationship like that? In this movie, Dan and Marie lie about their attraction and end up hurting a lot of people. Remind kids that anyone you have to hide or lie to your family about probably isn't the right person for you.

Movie details

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