I thought it would be fun to take a look at some of my recent reviews and to compare them to paid critics who disagree with me. I was wrong. It’s kind of humiliating really, but I’ve done it, so here it is. Anyway, it’s much better than Search Engine Term of the Week.
I have to say, it’s weird writing a review in a vacuum and then opening your eyes to what the rest of the world is saying about a movie after the fact. I gave Lars and the Real Girl an enthusiastic 4.5 stars out of 5, but Metacritic gives it a tepid 67.
Obviously this is one you fall for or you don’t. I did. Many people didn’t. Here’s what some of the other critics are saying:
- Lisa Schwartzbaum of Entertainment Weekly gives Lars a C: “Even [Gosling’s] mad skills at embodying misfit masculinity can’t sustain the plastic premise. Will no one talk to Lars honestly about the pitfalls of dating a golem?” Yeah Lisa, and maybe someone should tell Jimmy Stewart there is no such thing as an invisible rabbit while they’re at it. Buzz-kill.
- Manohla Dargis betrays me with this one in the NY Times: “The film is palatable audience bait of average accomplishment that superficially recalls the plain style of Alexander Payne, but without any of the lacerating edges or moral ambiguity.” Ouch. That one’s gonna leave a mark.
- Richard Roeper pulls his thumb out of his ass just long enough to point it downward: “I knew exactly where it was going and it didn’t offer any suprises,” he says. Man, I miss Siskel. At least he was funny when he was cranky.
On the other hand, I’m not completely alone in the woods on this one.
- Robert Wilonsky says on the same Ebert & Roeper episode that Lars is one of his favorite movies of the year. I don’t know about this Wilonsky character. I think he writes for the Dallas Observer. I like him better than Roeper for sure, but he’s no Ebert.
- Kenneth Turan of the LA Times gets it. He calls Lars “a Frank Capra-style fable, a throwback tribute to the joys of friendship and community.” Right the fuck on, Ken!
- Claudia Puig of USA today gives Lars 3.5 out of 4 stars and calls it “an original, amusing and heartfelt tale sharply written by Nancy Oliver.” Not bad for a McReview from McPaper. Anyway, I’ll take what I can get.
- [Update 10/21] Joe Morgenstern of the Wall Street Journal rings in with the most effusive praise of all. He calls Lars “an endearing, intelligent and tender comedy” and “an almost perfect movie with flawless performances.”
So what have we learned? Well, I’m a little surprised reviews of Lars are so mixed. I thought that even people who weren’t snowed by Little Miss Sunshine would be able to buy into Lars because it didn’t feel calculated or manipulative to me, yet here’s one of my favorite critics Manohla Dargis calling it “100 percent pure calculation.” It’s true, Manohla is a card carrying snob and it’s one of the things I like about her, but she really went to town on poor Lars. Ah well, that’s part of the fun of movies isn’t it? There’s something for everyone and not everything appeals to all people.
In the end, I stand by my recommendation, but if you feel you’ve had your fill of indie quirk, you might want to take my review with a grain of salt.