Cockteases: Sex Doll Movie Has Lots Of Doll, No Sex

After months and months of hype (and multiple posts on our part) the Ryan Gosling-starrer Lars and the Real Girl opens today. And the critics seem pretty split on whether it's the most supremely retarded movie ever...or, like, the best hope for salvation the American cinema has going. And even though Ryan Gosling became so attached to the sex doll he acted alongside in the movie that he kept it when the movie wrapped (how bad must Rachel McAdams feel now?), there is apparently no sex to be seen on the screen. A critical roundup, after the jump.

The New York Times:

It's part comedy, part tragedy and 100 percent pure calculation, designed to wring fat tears and coax big laughs and leave us drying our damp, smiling faces as we savor the touching vision of American magnanimity. It holds a flattering mirror up to us that erases every distortion....the film is palatable audience bait of average accomplishment...Mr. Gosling smiles his goofy smile and begs for attention, but he never fills this conceit with life.

Slate:

From the moment Lars set Bianca up at Gus and Karin's dinner table for an awkward getting-to-know-you meal, this movie lost me....Is it just me, or is the inability to distinguish between living flesh and inert matter as horrifying as something out of Edgar Allan Poe?...Lars and the Real Girl suffers from an even stranger delusion than Lars does. The movie is convinced that its man-loves-mannequin premise is uplifting, when actually it's just kinda gross.

Newsweek"Lars and the Real Girl," however, is a heartwarming story about a man who falls for a sex toy....The audience is being asked...to suspend our notions of normalcy in the service of a fable about redemption. It's a lot to ask, and I'm not sure screenwriter Nancy Oliver and director Craig Gillespie quite pull it off...What's hard to swallow is not so much Lars's total immersion in his obsession but the sentimental notion of small-town life as an oasis of tolerance....I admire what "Lars and the Real Girl" isn't, but I don't quite buy what it is.

USA Today:

[A]n original, amusing and heartfelt tale....Ryan Gosling continues to demonstrate his impressive range as Lars Lindstrom...It's a simple story that is never simple-minded or cloying. Gosling poignantly embodies the awkward Lars with signature gestures (a repeated blinking feels particularly authentic), bringing his sweet-natured character to vivid life. Lars and the Real Girl is a tenderly observed and affecting Capra-esque fable that is well-acted and gently funny.

Premiere:

Lars and the Real Girl, a movie fable about a young man with a host of debilitating issues and the small community of friends and relatives who nurture him back to reality, manages to explore the pain of mental illness and still be funny. That alone is a minor miracle, but there are others. The movie takes a humanist and Capra-esque approach to all-American eccentricity, yet never seems goofy, simplistic, or maudlin. It's redemptive without being Dr. Phil-prescriptive. And there's a metaphor, too.

New York Post:

This might sound pretty creepy on paper, but it doesn't seem smarmy at all on the screen, thanks to a completely straight performance by Gosling, who has demonstrated his extreme versatility in films such as "Half Nelson" (netting an Oscar nomination as an addicted teacher) and the four-handkerchief "The Notebook"....It's a tribute to the filmmakers and cast that by the end of "Lars and the Real Girl," you can almost accept that Bianca is, well, a real girl.

Los Angeles Times:

"Lars and the Real Girl" is the darndest thing. Starring Ryan Gosling as the romantically challenged Lars, this is a film whose daring and delicate blend of apparent irreconcilables will sweep you off your feet if you're not careful. For what screenwriter Nancy Oliver, director Craig Gillespie and a top cast have done is construct a Frank Capra-style fable, a throwback tribute to the joys of friendship and community, around a sex toy. Taking one of the most salacious items modern culture can provide as their centerpiece, they've created the sweetest, most innocent, most completely enjoyable film around.