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Ones that got away: Lars and the Real Girl

Paul Peterson

Well it’s March Break and I toyed with the idea of a Top 10 column about vacations, with the word March in them or about school being out but I couldn’t get past three in any category so it was time to move on.
I’ve reviewed everything I’m interested in seeing and refuse to watch John Carter so I’m introducing a new feature to this column: Ones that got away.
My reviews of some golden oldies if you will. I’m not going to go back and review classics like Casablanca or The Godfather, just little gems that I may have missed that I think people should see even if it’s on the small screen.
This week it’s a remarkable little film called Lars and the Real Girl.
I had this around and watched a few minutes of it once and decided it was too slow for that sitting and I never got back to it. So, one rainy night when the latest Storage Wars was again knocked out by the rain, I decided to give it another shot.
What a great film.
It stars Ryan Gosling as Lars, a quiet, withdrawn loner who has recently moved into the garage on his deceased father’s property so his big brother Gus and sister-in-law Karin can move into the main house.
For the most part, everyone just leaves Lars alone, but Karin is hell bent on bringing him into the family dinner cycle. Karin is played by Emily Mortimer, who was in Lovely and Amazing, which I absolutely loved. She’s quirky and understated and plays a huge role in Lars and his new girlfriend becoming part of their life. More on that later.
This is a comedy despite some serious undertones and moments, and one of the funnier scenes for me was when she tackles Lars to invite him to dinner. Hey, everything else failed so she figured the best RSVP comes out of full contact invitations. He goes for 7 minutes pushes the food around his plate and then leaves. Not exactly a social butterfly.
Gus (Paul Schneider) is an affable guy who is a good old boy without the usual malice. He works hard and thinks he probably let Lars down because he left to seek his fortune and mostly get away from the house and their dad, who was angry and isolated, in large part due to the fact that his wife died while delivering Lars.
So there’s some history.
We see Lars in a variety of social situations, all of them awkward, and then one night he shows up at Gus and Emilys and tells them that his internet girlfriend Bianca has arrived and they’re both religious so can she stay in the house with them. Emily is thrilled and Gus is at least happy until Lars shows up with his new girl who just happens to be a life-like sex doll he ordered from www.inflatables just not getting it
For the record, this is never an issue and there’s never a suggestion that there’s anything going on. He talks to her with love in his voice and everyone in the community eventually embraces her as his girlfriend.
The scene at dinner where his brother buries his face in his hands and keeps moaning and shaking his head and was brilliantly funny.
I love Mrs. Peterson who is this sassy lady who stands up to any potential wave of negative response and also gives Lars the business when he becomes a little too possessive of Bianca.
One of the great lines is her telling him to back off, what did he expect “that Bianca would sit around the house all day waiting for him?”
It’s a great line and if you see the movie you’ll understand how appropriate it is.
I loved this movie.
It’s nice and captures real generosity in a small town. Patrica Clarkson is her usual compelling self as his doctor and there are a lot of very funny moments, and a few poignant ones. Not since Tom Hanks for Wilson have we connected so strongly with an inanimate object. Some others may have for different reasons but this is a family column.
Lars and The Real Girl is a great film, and I strongly recommend it to anyone who is looking for smart funny and offbeat.
There’s no killing or ‘splosions but it’s very very funny and a real joy to watch.
As always, other opinions are welcome, but wrong. That’s it for this week. The cheque’s in the mail and I’m outta here. Paul

Filed Under: Paul Peterson

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