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The Real Thing (a reflection on “Lars and the Real Girl”)

A repost about one of my favorite movies, Lars & The Real Girl.

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Last night I began preparing for my summer preaching series, “Summer Blockbuster.” I’m going to take a look at movies that subversively — even to the authors and producers — tell the gospel in beautiful and compelling ways. One of those movies will certainly be “Lars and the Real Girl.”

Lars… is about a quirky young man, who suffers from a dissociative disorder and falls in love with a sex doll. Believe it or not, it is one of the most touching movies I have ever seen. The ragweed count must have been really bad in NorCal last night because toward the end of the movie my eyes were watering. In the film, Lars Lindstrom orders a sex doll (Bianca) over the internet and introduces her to his brother and sister-in-law, Gus and Karen, as his girlfriend. Bianca is a wheel-chair bound returning missionary who does not believe in pre-marital sex (which you would expect from a returning missionary), therefore, she lives in the house with Gus and Karen while Lars remains in the converted garage. Wisely, Karen suggests Biance see the local doctor, who is also a psychologist, since she just returned from the mission field. The doctor’s suggestion to Gus and Karen? Treat Bianca as if she is real. Gus and Karen follow the doctors orders, and so does everyone else in town.

awkward

Bianca attends church with Lars, gets carted around town by others, given baths, is invited to parties, everyone treats her as if she is real. Bianca even gets elected to the school board. How great it that!! There is a terrific scene in which a church council is discussing what to do about Bianca if Lars should bring her to church. One woman advocates treating her like anyone else. The woman goes around the room reminding the council of their and their family members quirks and failures. It was simply beautiful! And hilarious! It reminded me of Jesus writing in the sand in the midst of those who attempted to stone the woman caught in adultery. No one gets to exclude because God went to great lengths to include us all.

As the story moves forward, the thoughtful viewer recognizes what Bianca has become for Lars. She is a way for him to work through his terribly damaging emotional issues in a safe, non-threatening way allowing him to open himself to love, to being loved and involvement in the lives of others. But more than that, Bianca becomes a conduit of grace for the entire town. It takes a fake girl for Lars to become a real boy. Through doing so the viewer is witness to the only kind of grace there really is; the uncommon kind!

The movie simple ask, “What if we took everyone seriously? And took their needs, took the places they are mentally and physically — seriously? And what if we responded to others by immersing ourselves in what people need in order to receive healing instead of writing people off and penning others’ epitaphs prematurely?”

I don’t want to ruin it for those who haven’t seen it, but I will say: Even though a central figure is a plastic doll, the movie is one of the more real things I have ever seen.

Have you seen Lars? What did you take from it?

  • I really enjoyed this post! Lars and the Real Girl is one of my favorite movies. It is very touching and I love the message about community. What what our world look like if we all rallied around each other like that town did for Lars?

  • Zach

    One my all-time favorites. I love how the whole town welcomes Bianca, and is also there to (spoiler alert) help him grieve. This is the clearest pictures we get in film of what community is supposed to be.

  • McKenzie Moore Taylor

    Hi Sean! I don’t normally comment, but I LOVE the movie Lars and the Real Girl, and I specifically love the scene that you mention in this post. Sometimes the way the “church” dismisses people for being different in any of a variety of ways is so disheartening; this movie does (knowingly or not) depict the way that we should ALL accept ALL of God’s children, “different” or not.

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