Last night my girlfriend and I went to see “Lars and The Real Girl”, a movie for which she had freebie tickets.
“Lars and The Real Girl” tells the story of Lars Lindstrom, a slightly disturbed young man who one day becomes delusional, thinking a sex doll he has ordered over the Internet is actually his mail-order bride.
This movie tries to be a touching, charming movie about the way society tells us what’s real and what’s not, about mental illness, about the importance of friendships and so on. The problem, however, is that it just tries too much.
I find it obvious that director Craig Gillespie and screenwriter Nancy Oliver have both watched too much Tim Burton / Charlie Kauffman / Coen Brothers films, and the result (likely due to the fact that this is the debut feature for both director and screenwriter) is a mish-mash of the aforementioned’s styles.
I see two major problems with this movie. The first is that due to trying too much, the movie uses plot devices such as used by Kauffman or the Coens, but instead of using them as slight hints, bluntly throws them into the viewer’s faces, which instead of raising that familiar sense of joy gained from realizing what Kauffman or the Coens mean, just raises a slight laugh of part-embarrassment, part-pity. These sort of non-hints are used way too much along the movie making it just uncomfortable to watch, kind of like the feeling of eating too much ice cream or having too much sex.
The second problem is that, probably due to lack of funds, this movie has the tendency of casting “almost-actors”, much like Shir has noted in his post about the guy who looks like Tim Robbins.
The lead character, played by one Ryan Gosling, is a feeble, confused and slightly deranged young man who leads a lonely, bizarre life, but will, with the help of his surrounding, one day become normal. The way he portrays the character, it feels as if we’re watching Adam Sandler or Jim Carrey try to play Forrest Gump.
Patricia Clarkson plays the very Meryl Streep character of the mysterious, motherly, middle-aged-but-still-pretty psychologist who helps Lars regain his normality.
And as if this was not enough, we find Lars’ cubicle mate to be a thin-faced weirdo who plays with action figures, portrayed by
Steve Buscemi Maxwell McCabe-Lokos.
“Lars and The Real Girl” is by no means a bad movie. For a debut for both the director and the screenwriter, it works pretty well and will probably serve as a good day-off-afternoon filler. The problem is that it’s by no means a good movie either. It’s just plain. And this is sometimes worse than bad, in my opinion.