The second the credits started rolling after a recent showing of the film Lars and the Real Girl, my friend turned to me and said, “That was the most boring film I’ve ever seen in my life. I fell asleep, like, five times.”
Boring? I disagree. The film creeps along at a slow pace, but can you tell the story of an extremely sensitive, emotionally wrecked young man whose platonic relationship with a blow-up doll helps him get over the death of his mother and social anxieties at a fast pace? You could, but it probably would have to star Will Ferrell and be directed by Judd Apatow.
This film, starring Ryan Gosling and directed by newcomer Craig Gillespie, is an earnest, sincere, and often sappy tale of a small Midwest town transformed by one man’s real “relationship” with a fake person. It is hokey (the older, wiser women of the town sitting in a knitting circle wearing sweaters and offering casseroles and their undying support when Gosling’s character is depressed), and it is, at times, a tear-jerker (lots of close-ups of a misty-eyed, red-faced Gosling as he comes to terms with his inner self), but it’s also funny (Gosling getting into “arguments” with his doll).
The movie feels like an art-house film for the family: It’s quirky and character-driven, but it’s also, in the end, a feel-good flick about good people doing good things for each other. Boring? Maybe. Depends who you ask, or what mood you’re in when you see it. Cheesy? A little. Worth watching if you’re into small-budget films with mostly unknown actors forming friendships with a plastic woman purchased on the Internet? Yup.