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Movie Review

Lars and the Real Girl

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for some sex-related content

Reviewed by: Misty Wagner
CONTRIBUTOR

Better than Average
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Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Adults
Genre:
Comedy, Drama
Length:
1 hr. 46 min.
Year of Release:
2007
USA Release:
October 12, 2007
Copyright, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM)
Copyright, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM)
Copyright, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM)
Copyright, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM)
Copyright, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM)
Copyright, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM)
Copyright, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM)
Copyright, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM)
Copyright, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM)
Copyright, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM)
Relevant Issues
Copyright, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM)

What is true love and how do you know when you have found it? Answer

Sex, Love and Relationships
Learn how to make your love the best it can be. Discover biblical answers to questions about sex, marriage, sexual addictions, and more.
Featuring: Ryan Gosling
Half Nelson” (2006), “Fracture” (2007)
Emily Mortimer, Paul Schneider, R.D. Reid, Kelli Garner, Nancy Beatty, Doug Lennox, Joe Bostick, Liz Gordon, Nicky Guadagni, Patricia Clarkson, Karen Robinson, Maxwell McCabe-Lokos, Billy Parrott, Sally Cahill, Angela Vint, Liisa Repo-Martell, Darren Hynes, Víctor Gómez, Tommy Chang, Arnold Pinnock, Joshua Peace, Aurora Browne, Alec McClure, Tannis Burnett, Lauren Ash, Lindsey Connell, Aaron Ferguson, Danna Howe, Annabelle Torsein, Tim Blake, Torquil Colbo
Director: Craig Gillespie
Mr. Woodcock” (2007)
Producer: Sarah Aubrey, Peter Berg, Whitney Brown, John Cameron, William Horberg, Sidney Kimmel, Bruce Toll
Distributor: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM)

“The search for true love begins outside the box”

It’s pretty easy to be charmed by a film trailer. Quite often we base our decisions on whether a movie is view worthy or not, based on that little two minute production which exists only to sell as many tickets as possible. For each of us, what determines the film’s possible worth differs. Being one who celebrates diversity, I have tried to always be appreciative of the differing opinions and appeals of others. Generally, women tend to see their hearts warm over heartfelt or romantic trailers, while men typically prefer the more action-packed. It wasn’t until the trailer for “Lars and the Real Girl” emerged, that things really got interesting… It seemed that people were either truly eager to see this movie, or thought the premise completely absurd. I fell into the category of those eagerly awaiting its release. As time passed, however, many movies with “amazing” trailers proved to be major disappointments, and so I began to worry about this film, too.

Everyone around Lars sees him as lonely and self-isolated. The ring leader of a community which loves and worries about Lars is his sister-in-law Karin (Emily Mortimer). Continually voicing her worries to her husband Gus, she is met by his certainty that his brother is “fine.” Most everyone believes that, if Lars could simply find a girlfriend, everything would be better.

When the day finally comes that Lars introduces them to his girlfriend Bianca, worries of a different kind emerge as Bianca is an anatomically correct sex doll.

That being said, “Lars and the Real Girl” is by far one of the most endearing films of the year. I believe that it is impossible for anyone to see this film from start to finish and not have liked it.

The bad

  • In a very early scene, Lars’ coworker is asking Lars to look at his computer screen. Lars responds that he doesn’t want to “look at porn again.” His co-worker assures him that it isn’t porn, and then admits that it sort of is. It’s the Web site which sells the “sex” dolls which are anatomically correct.
  • Though incredibly mild, the language in the movie does have a few instance’s of using the name of God out of context, as well as an utterance of H***.

The good

This list could be incredibly long, but then it would also be too informative. I am going to list a few of the bigger positive components of the film…

  • Though Bianca was made to be a sex doll, there is nothing farther from Lars’ mind. The way in which he cares for Bianca is a wonderful expression of how love should be—generous, selfless and respectful. It may sound silly, and perhaps it’s something you have to see to grasp.
  • Lars is very concerned about keeping the relationship between he and Bianca pure, so he asks for Bianca to stay with his brother and sister-in-law.
  • Many of the characters in this film are fellow parishioners from the church Lars belongs to. For once, in a mainstream film, we get an honest look at Believers. These people aren’t pretentious or perfect. They are flawed, and yet demonstrate a lack of judgment and kindness. It was so refreshing to see such parts written to be Christians.
  • The lack of foul language is amazingly noticeable.
  • There is no sex or nudity.
  • The performances in this film are so believable. As they relate with one another, it’s easy to get swept up with their hearts and lives.

Beneath the surface of the laughter (which there is much of) is a story about a broken childhood, extreme loss and the guilt that can eat at all of us and cause us to shut down. There are so many different opinions on exactly why Lars “invents” Bianca. Even if everyone’s psychological prognosis of why (and how) differs, the point is still the same. “Lars and the Real Girl” is a movie full of healing and heart, full of redemption and love.

There is so much that one could pull from this film—so much about loving others, about receiving love from others and about how far we will go to love and embrace the people in our own lives. It’s easy to walk into a film about a man who loves a doll, and be cynical. It’s easy to learn that it’s a sex toy and pass judgment. I truly hope that we can all get past those too small diversions and give this movie a chance, because it is rare that mainstream entertainment produces such an amazing, uplifting and endearing piece of art.

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.


Viewer Comments
Positive—The review gives a good picture of this very “out of the box” film, but one point no one has mentioned intrigues me. It is the way that Bianca takes on a life of her own, as a result of Lars' feelings about her and the love that all the people in the church and the community have for him. This is really brought home when she “dies” and the pastor is giving a eulogy at her funeral. He eloquently summarizes the many and varied ways in which Bianca has become an important part of their lives and the life of the town, and how she has blessed so many people. His praise is not faked for Lars' benefit, but is a genuine expression of what his parishioners are feeling. It is perhaps an adult version of the children’s classic, “The Velveteen Rabbit,” in which a stuffed toy becomes “real” through being loved by a child. Although the film makes it very clear that Bianca must die as a part of the healing process that Lars so desperately needs, by the end of the eulogy I felt a genuine sadness that this inanimate object would no longer be a part of the life of the community.

Even sadder is the fact that in real life there are many people who leave far less good behind them at their deaths than Bianca did. For Christians, this may serve as an exhortation to do good and be wise stewards of our gifts, not as a means to salvation, but to fulfill God’s purpose for us to be a blessing to those around us. May we all urge one another to love and good works.
My Ratings: Better than Average / 4½
—John, age 59
Positive—This is one of the most original, intelligent, and endearing movies that I have seen in a long time. The premise sounds odd—a grown man having a lifesize doll as a girlfriend. It is truly funny to see Lars pushing “Bianca” around town in a wheelchair and bringing her to church, the mall, and the hospital to volunteer. But as the movie unfolds, we really care about why Lars needed to have Bianca come into his life, and how she is the perfect “person” to help him deal with the untimely death of his mother. What I especially loved is how the town rallied around Lars and his girlfriend to help him in this process. The church was beautifully portrayed as a place where people can go to be loved and receive healing. By all means, go see this movie if it is playing in your town. Movies this good don’t come around too often.
My Ratings: Good / 4½
—Lynn, age 44
Positive—I enjoyed this movie. The portrayal of the church and family’s love for Lars was something to be emulated. There is also hope at the end for Lars to connect more with the community and his family.
My Ratings: Better than Average / 3
—Jennifer, age 30
Positive—My husband and I recently went to a prescreening of this movie. We agree with the reviewer’s comments. We were disappointed with several parts of the content, but overall rate this movie as positive. The negative (points to discuss with others from the Christian perspective):
These were frustrating and unnecessary elements in this story, and all the more so from a film that was promoted to us by a Christian media group—which gave an inaccurate perception about Christianity on these issues to non Christians who were there to screen the film.

There are also some elements of Lars interest in another girl (the real girl) and their developing relationship that would have been inappropriate if Bianca truly had been a real person. This is a bizarre moral conundrum, however, since we would not want to encourage his choices that opened the door to an emotional affair if a real relationship with Bianca was concerned, yet in this case, we know that he’s not in a real relationship, and that his interaction with “the real girl” is likely a necessary part of ending his delusion. As the reviewer details, there are many redeeming qualities of this film that did portray Christian values. Some positive themes to discuss:
The acting was superb, and the film pulls off the extremely difficult task of being ridiculously funny while also dealing with the sad and serious cause of Lars break from reality.
My Ratings: Better than Average / 4½
—Laura Tyree, age 33
Positive—This movie is so beautiful, funny and well told. It’s rare you come out a movie with a warm feeling, but this movie did that for me. I loved every minute of it and was happy the movie was so clean when there were so many opportunities for sex jokes and language this movie just told a story with no cheap laughs or gimmicks.
My Ratings: Good / 4½
—Matthew, age 18
Positive—I rented this movie a month ago and truly enjoyed it. I am tired of movies with sex, violence and the over use of the “F” word as well as bad language overall.

This movie was a pure entertainment; a quirky story that was believable and told so amazing well. I loved the innocence of Lars and how his family love him so much, they would do anything to help him. I loved how the famiy and community supported Lars; the treated his girlfriend and Lars relationship as real. They loved Lars no matter what. A sweet movie that I recommend and plan to buy.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Angie Spencer, age 41