Friday, April 25, 2008

Filmtastic Friday, Odd Squodd Edition: Obsession, Light and Dark

Generally speaking, Li'l Random and I take turns making the selections for The Odd Squodd Mostly-Regular Dark and Twisty, Strange and Unusual, Off-Beat, Quirky, Movie Fest, picking out strange films that we love but the other hasn't seen. However, there are times when the choice is made for us due to a new Odd Squodd worthy film coming out, either at the movies or on DVD. Last week Li'l Random's turn to choose got bumped back a week due to the DVD release of a film whose description practically screamed "ODD SQUODD!!!!!!!" at the top of its lungs. After getting confirmation from Li'l Random that the new release would be an acceptable selection, I began to think about another film I had seen a while back with similar subject matter treated in a much darker way. So, I stopped by the media library and checked out this earlier film so that Li'l Random and I could have an Odd Squodd Double Feature of films about lonely guys who become unhealthily obsessed with life-like sex dolls they bought online.

The first film which explored the lighter side of the theme was Lars and the Real Girl, starring one of my favorite actors, Ryan Gosling, as the titular Lars, a lonely, reclusive man who lives in the garage of his childhood home, which is now occupied by his brother and pregnant sister-in-law. The sister-in-law is worried because Lars has become even more reclusive and anti-social than usual, and is overjoyed when he knocks on their door one evening to say that he has a female visitor who he met online; she and her husband are more than a little nonplussed, however, when the female visitor turns out to be a life-like sex doll which Lars insists is alive. Concerned, they trick Lars into visiting with a local physician who also has a degree in psychology, and she advises them to humor Lars in his delusion until they can get to the root of his problems. Soon, the whole town is drawn into the plan, treating the faux girl as if she were as alive as Lars believes she is.

Now, despite the fact that the object of Lars' affection is a sex doll, this is actually a pretty wholesome film overall; as part of regular church-goer Lars' delusion, his "girlfriend" Bianca is highly religious, and doesn't believe in premarital sex, so their relationship is rather chaste. The same cannot be said for the second part of our strange double-feature, Love Object.

A far cry from the feel-good Lars, eh? Love Object is much darker and more horrific, with a protagonist whose relationship with his doll Nikki is much more perverse than that of Lars and Bianca, especially once he tries to move to a real girl and finds that Nikki is apparently a jealous little hunk of plastic. Where Lars brings Bianca into the light and is embraced and loved by his whole town, Kenneth hides his new obsession from one and all, until it becomes even darker, more twisted, and, worst of all, deadly.

Naturally, Li'l Random and I laughed our butts off all the way through it.

And not in an MST3K sort of way either; no, Love Object is intentionally funny, in a dark and twisty, make you squirm in your seat sort of way.

While I enjoyed the heck out of both movies, there's a reason why Li'l Random and I watched Lars and the Real Girl with Cap'n Shack-Fu and PigPen, but kept Love Object as a strictly Odd Squodd viewing experience; the quirkiness and oddity of Lars is of a sort that's more palatable to the masses, leaning towards the light side of the oddity spectrum, while the black humor and uncomfortable oddity of Love Object is geared towards a much darker and off-beat mindset which L'il Random and I have in spades.

So, I highly recommend Lars and the Real Girl to one and all as one of those rare Odd Squodd approved films which could actually have appeal beyond our warped little minds, but am going to suggest that most of you blog monkeys would find Love Object a bit of a hard pill to swallow.