Lars and the Real Girl

Movie review by
Cynthia Fuchs, Common Sense Media
Lars and the Real Girl Movie Poster Image
Sex doll takes center stage in quirky comedy.
  • PG-13
  • 2007
  • 106 minutes

Parents say

age 12+
Based on 7 reviews

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 5 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Lars' emotional disturbance leads him to believe that a life-sized sex doll is his girlfriend; on a doctor's advice, his fellow townspeople go along with the idea in order to ease his upset. Lars' brother is very distressed by his behavior.

Violence

A minor scuffle between Lars and Karin (she tackles him), meant as comedy.

Sex

The film focuses on Lars' "romance" with an inflatable sex doll, so it includes discussions of porn, sexual activity, and desire. A couple of shots of a porn Web site show girls in underwear. Brief cleavage shot, plus shot of Bianca the doll's bare bottom. Brief discussion of homosexuality, as neighbors think that Lars might be gay.

Language

Minor language, including a couple of uses each of "hell" and "damn." Some slangy allusions to sex (i.e., "the right cowboy to tame this wild filly," "slutty hunk of silicone").

Consumerism

Cracker Jack.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

A background character smokes a cigarette.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know the movie's focus on the main character's "relationship" with a very lifelike sex doll may raise questions from young viewers about just exactly what one is -- and what it does. The film also focuses on Lars' emotional disorder, in part explained by his distress over the fact that his mother died during his birth and his father's bad behavior afterward (these events come up in conversation but aren't shown). Expect some slangy references to women's bodies and sexual activities.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byddue2be April 9, 2008

a must see

it is the exact oposit in what you think it is, it is touching and really makes you think, the only explict thing is the doll itself. It is less of a comedy and... Continue reading
Adult Written byyetijones June 27, 2009

Common Sense is Wrong Again: A Perfect Film Tainted by the Hands of Parent Reviewers

"Lars and the Real Girl" (2007) is a film directed by Craig Gillespie and written by Nancy Oliver. The story focuses on a man's emotional disturb... Continue reading
Teen, 16 years old Written bymoviemogul 2.0;... April 9, 2008

I really don't understand how CSM can rate this only two stars

Here is a beautifully simple film that doesn't try to be anything or try to do anything other than tell an original story. After seeing trailers for it on... Continue reading
Teen, 16 years old Written byBestPicture1996 July 27, 2012

Quiet and thought-provoking

Ryan Gosling is really what's worth viewing this quiet, if a little overlong and repetitive indie movie. His performance has great nuances (notice how he... Continue reading

What's the story?

At the start of LARS AND THE REAL GIRL, Lars (Ryan Gosling) looks out on a bleak, wintry landscape. He's isolated and alone, even though he lives adjacent (albeit in a garage) to his brother Gus (Paul Schneider) and his pregnant sister-in-law, Karin (Emily Mortimer).Lars, who works in a generic cubicle at a generic office, can pass for merely socially awkward. But when his co-worker Margo (Kelli Garner) develops a crush on him, he's unable to respond. Instead, he turns to a porn Web site, where he orders a lifelike sex doll. She arrives in a box, and he names her Bianca and introduces her to Gus and Karin as his long-distance girlfriend who's come to visit. With eyebrows raised and glances exchanged, they go along with him, suggesting that they all take Bianca to see Dr. Berman (Patricia Clarkson). Kindly and wise in the way that small-town doctors tend to be in the movies, she advises letting Lars gradually work out whatever trauma he's apparently feeling. "Chances are," she says, "he's been decompensating for some time."

Is it any good?

Lars and the Real Girl is commendable for celebrating the healing powers of quirk. But Craig Gillespie's movie is premised on some tedious and seemingly comforting truisms related to the "unfathomable" mysteries of women and pregnancy. The townsfolk rally round Lars, accepting Bianca as a "real girl," inviting her to parties, volunteering her for community service, bringing her to the hospital to visit with sick kids, etc. Bianca, for all her blankness, is a vehicle for Lars' reintegration into the community. While it's disheartening that she must follow a typical plot route in order to serve that function, the film features an appealing performance by Gosling.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about whether the movie seems at all realistic -- and, for that matter, whether it's intended to. Does the doctor do the right thing in letting Lars believe in Bianca's existence? Do you think it's believable that the townspeople play along? What do you think the movie's overall message is?

Movie details

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