I suppose one indicator that youve made it in life is if you own a second home more directly, a second home with frontage abutting some mass of water. Whether you dream about this possibility or not, few can deny the appeal of a home on a lake or ocean. The problem, as most of us know, is actually being able to afford this little slice of heaven. I grew up spending weekends at my grandparents lake house. They bought the property in the 1940s at a price that could buy you a used motorcycle today and raised their children there. Their children, in turn, initiated the next generation into the joys of weekends at the lake. It was, throughout most of my young life, one of the most memorable and rewarding experiences. Mornings at the lake consisted of sizzling bacon, scrambled eggs and toast, and mug-fulls of hot chocolate. Fishing was next with everyone vying for the days biggest catch. Once the sun had warmed things up sufficiently, swimming would consume our time. Late afternoons meant reading or a relaxing nap followed by a chaotic dinner around the massive dining room table. The evenings consisted of games by the fire or candlelit conversations on the deck. From morning to night, life at the lake house was pure joy. Yes, the memories are wonderful. Unfortunately, thats all that is left. After my grandfather passed away, my grandmother had to sell the lake house. The costs to institute much-needed renovations, along with skyrocketing property values and taxes, made it impossible for anyone in the family to buy it. A major slice of my life slipped away to an out-of-state couple that got lucky during the tech bubble. On the occasion when I am nearby the old cottage, Ill swing by for memorys sake. I am generally swept with emotion at the sight of the old outdoor fireplace, the long stairway to the waters edge, or the majestic screened-in bedroom that sits atop the house. I regret that I can no longer walk inside and fall asleep on the tattered couch, but I am thankful for the love and camaraderie that the lake house afforded us (and all of this without a phone, TV, or videogame in sight). This weeks film, Dan in Real Life, also features a lake house. While the home depicted in this motion picture was closer to a lake mansion, the activities engaged in reminded me how important a retreat can be in keeping extended families together. Dan in Real Life is the story of a single-father trying to raise three daughters. It has been four years since the untimely death of his wife and he is no closer to being at peace than he was the day after she passed. All this changes when Dan and his girls head to the family abode for a weekend away. Dan in Real Life is the newest stop in Steve Carells meteoric career. Carell, originally a featured correspondent on The Daily Show, shot to national fame as the leading man in NBCs The Office, easily one of todays most popular sitcoms. Not surprisingly, it wasnt long before Hollywood came calling for work in feature films. Carell responded with appearances in a number of hit movies, including The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Little Miss Sunshine, and Evan Almighty. Next year Carell will be lending his voice to the long-awaited Horton Hears a Who as well as reprising the classic role of Maxwell Smart in the movie version of Get Smart. Theres no need to worry if you like Mr. Carell. His body of work will do nothing but expand over the next several years. Steve Carell the actor doesnt offer much different in his newest film he is, if anything, consistently himself. The movie, however, is a step up from traditional romantic comedies, providing consistent laughs without getting overly sentimental. The uncomplicated storyline makes itself apparent at the outset, but this does little to effect the underlying joy of the film. If youre in the mood for a mature romantic comedy with ample laughs, then I must recommend Dan in Real Life. While it fails to reach the heights of Little Miss Sunshine, it does mimic many of the comedic nuances. A ripe B- for Dan in Real Life. Cant decide what to watch?
Check out Doms Video Pick Of The Week: The Bicycle Thief
Set in post-war Italy, "The Bicycle Thief" follows the story of a man and his son as they search for a stolen bicycle vital to the father's job. What makes this film so amazing is that director Vittorio Di Sica utilized the talents of amateur thespians, many of which had never acted. His ability to coerce amazing performances out of his actors lends an air of believability to this picture rarely seen in early films. Consistently acknowledged as one of the top films in the history of cinema, "The Bicycle Thief" is clearly one of the best examples of the neo-realism movement that was so popular in Europe during the 1940s.