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7 Movies like Lars and the Real Girl: The Odd Couples

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Jonny_Sweet_itcher_contributorIf you were pleasantly surprised to find poignancy and pathos in a movie involving a sex doll, you might like the offbeat charms of ‘Ruby Sparks’, ‘The Beaver’ or any of these other great movies like ‘Lars and the Real Girl’. ~ Jonny Sweet

Love in the Unlikeliest Place

Those who are used to seeing Ryan Gosling survive on his poster-boy good looks and long, drawn-out silences are likely to be shocked and impressed by his performance in ‘Lars and the Real Girl’. Then again, those who are used to seeing both members of the main relationship in a cinematic drama having a pulse are likely to be shocked (and perhaps impressed) by the unlikely union of Gosling’s Lars and an inflatable doll in Craig Gillespie’s second directorial stint.

Lars’ use of Bianca, his Brazilian/Danish “girlfriend”, is an unconventional but apparently effective tool for him to overcome his crippling shyness and social discomfort. Such an offbeat approach, as well as the overwhelming support of his community in his time of need despite his oddities, make ‘Lars’ a touching story of personal trauma and growth.

If you enjoyed joining Lars on his individual journey, why not check out these other moving movies similar to ‘Lars and the Real Girl’ about odd couples and off-the-wall situations… you might just find another new favourite.


Movies Similar to ‘Lars and the Real Girl’…

‘Her’ (Spike Jonze, 2013)

In ‘Her’, Spike Jonze has created a bone-chilling indictment of the increasingly vacuous social world we live in. Solitary greeting card writer Theodore becomes romantically involved with his newest operating system, leading him on a heart-breaking journey of love and loss that rings true with the social vapidity of today’s modern world.

Similarity Match: 85%
Both ‘Her’ and ‘Lars and the Real Girl’ centre on lonely male protagonists who can’t find love among the human race… so turn to a less animated alternative instead.

‘The Beaver’ (Jodie Foster, 2011)

‘The Beaver’ is an all-round odd film – neither comedy nor tragedy – in which Mel Gibson’s depressed CEO of a toy company becomes disillusioned with his empty life. The only way he finds the confidence and impetus to try and kick-start his marriage and his family life is through wearing a hand puppet in the guise of a beaver and talking in a thick (and flawless) Cockney accent. Confused? You will be.

Though the story is unorthodox and even rather ridiculous at times, it is an interesting exploration of the pitfalls of depression.

Similarity Match: 85%
In ‘The Beaver’ and ‘Lars and the Real Girl’, both protagonists have trouble interacting with their fellow members of society and overcome this through the use of inanimate objects to which they impart human characteristics.

‘Ruby Sparks’ (Jonathan Dayton, Valerie Faris, 2012)

The plot of ‘Ruby Sparks’ revolves around the struggles of a sensationally successful young novelist who can’t quite seem to recreate the passion of his first novel or replace the passion of a recent relationship… until he meets the eponymous heroine.

However, it soon becomes clear that ‘Ruby Sparks’ is not like other girls… in that she appears to be a figment of his imagination – albeit one that others can see.

Similarity Match: 70%
Like ‘Lars and the Real Girl’, ‘Ruby Sparks’ features a protagonist who craves a loving relationship but is unable to attain it through conventional methods, so invents a character in his own mind.


If You Like ‘Lars and the Real Girl’, You Will Like…

The three films like ‘Lars and the Real Girl’ listed above all share one similar component with the movie – the main character develops a relationship with a character who is not actually real. However, there are many more pictures which share other aspects in common with Gillespie’s movie beside this plot point.

Here are three more movies whose storylines diverge more from that of ‘Lars’ but which share certain features reminiscent of the indie smash hit.

‘Harold and Maude’ (Hal Ashby, 1971)

There has probably never been as an unlikely a romantic union in rom-com history as that of Harold and Maude. He’s an awkward adolescent who has an unhealthy fixation on death and derives his only pleasure in life from feigning it. She’s a reckless and hedonistic 79-year-old who doesn’t give a fig for the opinions of others.

Through their relationship, they find happiness in the unlikeliest of places. An offbeat comedy in the truest sense.

The unconventional central relationship of ‘Harold and Maude’ is an early precursor to that in ‘Lars and the Real Girl’, in that it brings the inexperienced male out of his shell and into society.

‘Half Nelson’ (Ryan Fleck, 2006)

Gosling turns in an impeccable performance again as drug-using schoolteacher who forms a bond with one of his students who herself is considering turning towards narcotic trafficking. Like Lars, Gosling’s character here is finding the pressure of social situations too much to bear – but whereas Lars locks himself away from others and seeks solace in a rubber doll, Dan buries his head in cocaine.

Both ‘Half Nelson’ and ‘Lars and the Real Girl’ showcase Ryan Gosling’s significant acting talent in an unconventional role, as he forms a relationship with an unlikely acquaintance and embarks on a voyage of self-growth in the process.

‘The Stepford Wives’ (Bryan Forbes, 1975)

Ever wanted to escape the hustle and bustle of the city for a quiet country life? Be careful what you wish for – you might find yourself surrounded by the Stepford wives.

This 70s flick is full of paranoia, sexism and tension. On the surface of it, that couldn’t be further from the cockle-warming twee sentiments of ‘Lars and the Real Girl’, and it’s less about personal growth than uncovering an unpleasant truth… but certain plot twists do foreshadow the film. Disclosing them here would spoil the surprise, but suffice it to say that if you’re looking to watch a gloomy thriller version of ‘Lars’, check this one out.

The females in ‘Lars and the Real Girl’ and ‘The Stepford Wives’ are not quite what they seem… but whereas as the former is a gentle, quirky comedy, the latter is a science-fiction thriller.


Other Improbable Avenues of Personal Growth?

These six films share similarities with Lars and his own journey into confidence and self-belief, to differing degrees.

Can you think of any others?

If so, let us all in on the secret in the comments section below.

I′m Jonny, an English Literature graduate who decided careers and mortgages were too mundane, and travelling, film, music and books were much more enticing. I have recently made a very comfortable nest for myself in Santiago de Chile, and on itcher Mag where I regularly contribute eloquent waffle on all manner of media.
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