Editors Note: “Price is Right” is a running column from local film enthusiast Mr. Price. He reviews selected Strasburg Film Festival films. If he posts a negative review, then the Shenandoah Film Collaborative will respond within his reviews as to why we selected the certain film. By going about it this way, we can help ensure the reader that these are honest film reviews.
“Lars the Emo Kid” blurs the line between a hard-hitting dramatic coming of age story and a comedy bordering on the surreal.
The film, as the title suggests, centers around Lars, an epitome of the downtrodden misfit. The high school setting of the story focuses less on the realism of the day-to-day, instead highlighting via hyperbole the way Lars sees his world. From the moment Lars’ bullies deposit him on his doorstep by throwing him from the back of a moving pickup truck, we are shown the absurdity from which the film derives its humor. And this exaggeration works surprisingly well within the context of the story being told. “Lars the Emo Kid” deftly handles some dark subject matter, most prominently the isolation and depression of its protagonist. But, amongst these heavy themes are scattered moments of genuinely funny silliness. Though the contrast between these two extremes could easily have come across as jarring, they end up blending together to create a unique final product. As Lars strikes up a friendship with a group of outcasts like himself, the moments of darkness keep us truly wishing the best for our protagonist. At the same time, the moments of levity and comic relief prevent that darkness from overpowering the tone of the film.
Comedies relying on dark humor have a delicate balance to maintain. Too far in either direction, and the film can all-too-easily lose its grip on any cohesive tone or theme. “Lars the Emo Kid” walks this fine line with aplomb, creating a one-of-a-kind harmony from its two vastly differing extremes.