Making the Grades
Click here for a detailed explanation of how we determine our grades.
The MPAA has rated Lars and the Real Girl - PG-13 for some sex-related content.
It's one thing to be a little reclusive. It's quite another to be like Lars (Ryan Gosling). He leaves his cubicle at work each day to return to a small room attached to a ramshackle garage just a few feet from the house where his brother Gus (Paul Schneider) and sister-in-law Karin (Emily Mortimer) reside. He declines Karin's pleas to join them for a meal in the same manner someone would turn down a serving of plague. Only after she physically accosts him in the driveway after work one day does Lars relent and reluctantly share dinner with them.
Viewing his wife's ongoing determination, Gus advises her to give up, suggesting some guys simply like being left alone.
Needless to say it comes as a huge surprise when Lars shows up on their doorstep late one night to ask a favor. A girl he met on the Internet has come to stay with him, but his religion precludes the two of them sleeping together. Anxiously accepting his request to have her stay with them, the couple's initial astonishment quickly fades to confused concern when Bianca enters their home. Not exactly a human being, she is a life-size doll Lars has ordered on-line, and is completely convinced is a real person.
Recognizing now that Lars has more than a simple loner tendency, Karin and Gus convince their garage dweller to take his "friend," who Lars has explained has traveled from Brazil, to Dr. Dagmar (Patricia Clarkson) for an exam. Conveniently drawing on her former experience as a psychologist, Dr. Dagmar advises Karin and Gus to just let Lars play out his delusion, and she recommends Lars bring Bianca back for weekly checkups, due to her "complex" problem. Soon, thanks to a church leader asking "What would Jesus do?", it seems the entire community is accepting Bianca and coming up with creative ways for her to feel accepted -- including helping a clothing store model their latest fashions, and reading stories (with a little help from a tape recorder) to children at the library.If you have seen previews for Lars and the Real Girl, you may be approaching this film about a man in love with what is really an adult sex toy, with caution. Thankfully, this movie isn't trying to fit into the sex comedy genre. While Lars's co-workers quietly discuss the fact that Bianca was built for a very different purpose (which constitutes the film's few moments of sexual innuendo), his delusion is completely innocent. His perceived relationship with Bianca is to care for her. As other members of the community, including his fellow churchgoers, recognize the role they play in helping Lars work through his problems (that are revealed in during his visits with Dr. Dagmar), this film develops into a truly touching drama. The fresh script is interspersed with moments of true humor and sustained by award worthy performances (Gosling is especially incredible).
Yet, it would be wrong to assume this film is suitable (or even interesting) for younger audiences due to the multifaceted character situations portrayed. However, it will reward adult and mature teen audiences with valuable insight into mental illness and the roles we can play in helping those who struggle to find meaning in the supposedly real world.
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about Lars and the Real Girl.
With the help of a professional, Lars’s brother and sister-in-law—along with members of the community—look for creative ways to indirectly help Lars. How are these methods more productive than directly addressing the obvious problem?
The timeline in this film appears to span a few months. Is this a realistic amount of time for Lars to resolve his illness? How might media work to convince us that complex problems can be solved quickly?