Mental illness is nothing to laugh about, and these films don’t take them lightly. They take them light-ish. Depression is depressing enough.
Sure, Will Ferrell’s Harold Crick may not be too mental, but he sure needs some help. When he begins hearing the narration about the mundane details of his systematic life, he seeks not only psychiatric help, but literary help. Is his life a comedy or a tragedy? Same goes for this film.
Ryan Gosling’s Lars Lindstrom has a problem. He can’t deal with the fact that his sister-in-law is pregnant (it is explained), so his response? Get a mail-order girlfriend… that’s not really real, despite what the title depicts. The whole town ends up chipping in and helping with his malady, so that maybe – just maybe – he can find true love with a real girl, like the title says.
Forget about Mel Gibson’s public exploits; his Walter Black is much worse off. He’s so depressed that the only way he can keep giving a dam (ha!) is to speak through a beaver puppet. This film isn’t as funny as you may hope it could be, but it is interesting… especially the end. It’s certainly not flat like a beaver’s tail. Sorry.