As Cool As A Fruitstand

…and maybe as strange. A movie blog.

Weekend Double Feature: Delusional Dudes

Posted by Hedwig on April 5, 2008

Now that I write on a regular basis about Weekend Double Features, I’m always on the lookout, consciously or unconsciously, for echoes between movies. Connections. A same actor or character in a different light, perhaps. A different approach to a similar problem, or a similar approach to a different problem.

So as I watched Don Juan deMarco for the nth time yesterday, all I could think of was how that movie illustrates perfectly why Lars and the Real Girl didn’t work for me as well as it did for others.

Make no mistake: I liked Lars quite a bit, and gave it a positive, 3.5 star review. It managed to sneak past all my cynical defenses, and I admired how carefully it balanced between potential ridicule, on the one side, and a saccharine whimsy overdose on the other. But I wasn’t as enamored of the film as others, and I thought this was mostly because I craved just a dash of irony, of self-awareness. The film was just so earnest, so entirely heartfelt and full of good intentions. And maybe I’m just too much of cynic to deal with that.

Now, after seeing Juan again, I realize the problem might have lain elsewhere. It might have been with the tameness of Lars’ delusions, the lack of imagination in them. You know, let’s be direct: the lack of sex. Come on! The guy orders a sex-doll on the internet, imagines she’s his girlfriend…but the filmmakers emphasize that they don’t have sex. Repeatedly. In fact, she’s not just religious, she’s a missionary, and they sleep in different houses. But why would a guy with a sex-doll who’s real for him, even one scared of touch, NOT have sex with her? I mean, personally I’m not much into sex with plastic things, but hey.

Ok, admittedly, Lars having sex with the doll might have been kinda gross. Still, watching Don Juan deMarco, which is also about a young man with some emotional problems who finds solace in a delusion, you come to realize just how devoid of imagination, devoid of possibility, and just generally dull Lars’ delusion is. I mean, if you’re going to imagine something, imagine something grand, something fabulous, something sexy. Like, you know, that you’re the greatest lover on earth, and have slept with 1, 502 women, none of whom have left your arms unsatisfied.

The strange thing is, Juan is never crude. It’s all in the metaphors, and my friend Sabrine said she’d watched it as a kid and never even realized how sexual it all was. And best of all? It doesn’t take itself too seriously. Those metaphors, depending on what mood you’re in, can be incredibly sexy… or ridiculously over-the-top and funny. And I don’t think the makers would mind either way.

I mean, think about it. Would you rather have a very religious girlfriend in a wheelchair who doesn’t say much… or get to wear a cape and make all ladies swoon? And which of the two speaks to the imagination more?

Don Juan deMarco isn’t a perfect film. I’m not sure it’s even a terribly good film. It is, however, a film that makes you feel good, feel like sometimes it’s not too bad to look past reality and imagine something just a little bit more fantastic. To daydream. And that’s something Lars, unfortunately, didn’t do.


5 Responses to “Weekend Double Feature: Delusional Dudes”

  1. Ahhhh…as a sucker for Lars, where to begin?

    “The film was just so earnest, so entirely heartfelt and full of good intentions.” Well, you might not have intended it, but you just paid Lars the highest compliment. You’ve said recently something to the effect that you’re getting a little tired of Andersonian type irony and hipness. To me, one of the appealing things about Lars is its very earnestness. It is completely irony and snark free. It’s not trying to be smarter or hipper than anybody.

    I’m as cynical as the next guy, ask anyone who knows me, but one of the liberating things about movies is I can set that aside for a little while and just be a sucker. It’s nice.

    Also, I like it precisely because he doesn’t have sex with Bianca. To you and me and everyone else, she’s a sex doll, but to Lars, she’s just a girl. His fantasy isn’t sexual, it’s emotional. She can be anything he wants, and he wants her to be someone he can take care of and who will listen to him and understand him and accept him for who he is without pressuring him.

  2. sarcastig said

    Ah, but is every form of irony a sign of wanting to be smarter and/or hipper than anybody? Can’t it also, I don’t know, show self-awareness and maybe even self-mockery? Lars takes itself so seriously, is so convinced of its own good intentions, that I kept hoping for a sign that the filmmakers were aware they were doing something silly, but were doing it anyway. Don Juan DeMarco is a profoundly silly movie, but the makers know it. If you’d mock it, they’d probably just shrug. If you mock Lars, however, you get the feeling the filmmakers would dismiss you as heartless.

  3. Daniel said

    Regarding the sex, I think it really was all sitting on his fear of people touching him. That issue played a larger part than it really should have, but if I’m playing the devil’s advocate I can still just leave it at that.

    Really cool connection you’ve identified with these two.

  4. It’s just interesting Hedwig that to me, one of Lars strengths is its refusual to admit what it’s doing is silly. In some ways, that’s the whole point.

    But don’t get me wrong, I can see where the conceit doesn’t work on everyone.

    Perhaps I’m just a sucker or I’m turning into a sap in my old age.

  5. patrick said

    just saw Lars and the Real Girl, Gosling did a great job playing out his character’s psychological transitions… it was considerate of the movie’s producers to leave out the predictable “small-town conflict” element as well

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