October 26, 2007, - 2:01 pm

Weekend Box Office: Dummy Is Best Actor in Hilarious “Lars,” Laudable Pro Life “Bella,” Steve Carell’s the Chick in Lame Chick Flick

By Debbie Schlussel
**** SCROLL DOWN FOR UPDATE: “King of California” Review ****
A couple of great choices in this weekend’s new offerings, but neither of them stars Steve Carell. Sorry, “Office” fans, this ain’t it:
* “Lars & the Real Girl“: This has to be the funniest movie I’ve seen all year; no–make that, many years. So bizarre and absurd, I loved it.

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Lars (Ryan Gosling, a dead-ringer for David Arquette in his mustachioed splendor, and awesome as the straight man in a comedy routine) is a loner in a small Midwestern town who doesn’t have a girlfriend, even though everyone desperately wants him to have one. Soon enough, though, he announces that he’s met someone and she’s come to visit. Problem is, “Bianca” is an anatomically correct dummy he ordered on the Internet, and he’s psychologically deluded: He thinks she’s a real person.
It’s absolutely hilarious to see Lars take Bianca to church in her wheelchair, to the doctor, and everywhere else. But the funnier part is his brother and sister-in-law. His brother just can’t take the insanity here. And his sister-in-law and the townspeople–initially acting like this dummy is normal per a psychologist’s prescription–ultimately treat this dummy–NOT a human–like a real human being.
It’s so absurd. It reminds me of the way so many PC-types in our world will treat the most abnormal, deviant, or destructive people in our society as normal, just because we can’t make anyone feel different. It’s the same way with Muslims who want to destroy us. Everyone is jumping all over themselves to gush over the most extremist ones. Yup, they are the ones who pander to Biance, and we are the “insane” ones for objecting to treating the non-human as superhuman.
A great movie and parable for what ails America. Completely hilarious. Although I wouldn’t recommend it for kids (it has some crude language and suggestive situations), it’s generally a pretty tame and funny movie despite the movie’s filthy double entendre slogan: “The Search for Love Begins Outside the Box.”
The movie has its unwanted melodramatic moments, but every time it borders on getting to “Lifetime-y,” something absolutely hilarious happens.
At first, I thought this was going to be like one of those endless “Saturday Night Live” skits, with one gag that keeps on repeating worse than a non-Beano-treated chile consumer. But I was wrong. It’s more like the energizer. It keeps going . . . and going, except toward the end where it gets mired in itself. And that’s a minor detail. Fun and entertaining mostly throughout. And a million laughs in between.
Bummed, though, that “Bianca” didn’t get a credit for this film. She’s my fave kinda Hollywood actress. The silent type.
* “Dan in Real Life“: Hands down, the MOST ANNOYING MOVIE OF THE YEAR. If you like Steve Carell’s wit and humor in “The Office,” this ain’t your flick. Nothing funny or witty about this. It’s a sappy chick flick. And the chick is Steve Carell, er . . . Dan. This movie was so annoying I wanted to kill myself. I could not wait for it to be over. NOT funny. Again, NOT funny.
The “Plot,” if you can call it that: An advice columnist and widower on the verge of stardom has three bratty, whiny, annoying daughters. He meets up with his totally annoying entire extended family to Thanksgiving weekend at their cottage on the lake. At a bookstore, he meets a woman he knows is “the one” (Hollywood’s most over-rated actress–tired, haggard, pretentious, and annoying Juliette Binoche; huh?–she’s soooo pretentious). But on his return to the cottage he realizes she’s his brother’s (the NOT funny “comedian” Dane Cook) new girlfriend. That doesn’t stop him from not taking his own advice, and pursuing her through a series of bad, silly, trite “Three’s Company” sitcom situations. Oy.
Then, there’s this whole scene where his family is trying to set him up with a woman who allegedly has a “pig face”. Uh, hello, Steve Carell’s oldest daughter who participates in the joking looks just like a pig face. Better casting, next time. And better placement, too, like on the Lifetime Channel or Nick at Nite.
Jack Tripper and Greg Brady (and Jan Brady, too) called. They want their life story back.
There is absolutely no-one likable in this sappy, predictable movie, so why should we care about any of them, including’ Carell’s Dan? Dan in Real Life. Dan in Imaginary Life. Don’t waste your two hours and ten bucks for either one of them.
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* “Bella“: There are few movies coming out of mainstream Hollywood, these days, that are pro-life. Fewer still that win as many major film festival awards as “Bella.” Glad to see this one crashed through the glass ceiling of feminist abortion Orthodoxy. And it has a certain charm to it, too, while being a tad too emotional and melodramatic for my taste. But maybe that’s necessary, given the topic and storyline. The movie’s pro-life message is subtle and doesn’t hit you over the head the way liberal messages from Hollywood do.
A non-Hispanic waitress at a Hispanic (Puerto Ricano) restaurant in New York comes late to work one to many times, and she gets fired. But Jose, the restaurant owner’s handsome, moral brother and main chef walks out in solidarity with her (and to give her comfort). He learns she’s pregnant with the baby of a man she doesn’t love and plans to get an abortion. Now, out of a job, she can’t afford the kid, and didn’t want to have it anyway. She had to grow up too fast, at age 12 when her father died. And her mother and she are not close. She has no-one to help her with this child, so she wants to snuff it out at the clinic.
But Jose–once about to become a multi-million dollar pro soccer player–has had tragedy strike in his life. He knows what it’s like to take a child away, and he wants to stop this. He takes Nina to the beach and to meet his family, where she learns about his life.
This is a movie about crossroads. Do you have an abortion and get on with your life and forget this was a life? Or do you make another choice? Does Nina keep her baby for Jose’s sake? And is the ending real or an image of what could happen in their future?
The movie raises the question in a poignant way, which–like I said–we rarely, if ever, see from LaLa Land.
**** UPDATE–“King of California“: Several readers have asked my opinion about this indie flick starring Michael Douglas and Evan Rachel Wood. Douglas is teen Wood’s loser father, who just came out of the mental hospital. But even though he seems, as usual, deluded, his daughter (who supports herself working at McDonald’s) wants to believe in her Dad. So, when he comes up with this cockamamie-sounding scheme to find allegedly hidden treasure–and it ends up being buried under a local Costco–she goes along, even though she doubts it every step of the way and thinks he’s mad yet again.
At first, I hated this movie. You know–the usual disheveled, loser, deadbeat, nutty father figure portrayed by Hollywood. But, in the end, this father appears to be the unsung courageous man who makes the ultimate sacrifice to make sure his daughter’s life is a good one. I liked it, though I wish there was more of a pay-off at the end. Bonus: It’s only about 1.5 hours, my ideal movie length.

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2 Responses

Debbie, I am so glad that you wrote this about Bella. Around the country, pro-life groups are screening this movie and trying to fill seats to cause the major distributors to take note and distribute the film.
I live in Austin, Texas and this weekend the Catholic Diocese is having a showing. On Sunday, November 6, the Travis County “Texas Right to Life” chapter to which I belong is having a showing and trying to fill seats.
I would encourage people to see if a showing is happening in your city, try to get tickets and go see this wonderful movie. The more seats we fill, the better the chances of getting a major distributor on board.

Sue Bob on October 26, 2007 at 5:00 pm

My apologies for my OCD-tendencies and that this has nothing to do with movies, but Puerto Ricano is incorrect. Options from English, Spanish, and the Taino word for the island:
1) Puerto Rican
2) Puertorriquen~o (drat the lack of a tilded N) or
3) Boricua
But Bella does sound good.

Robert Crabtree on October 29, 2007 at 4:21 am

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