Finally watched Lars and the Real Girl, a movie recommended so strongly to me that I resisted actually seeing it for, well, years. The description of the film is so odd, the potential for it being done wrong so high, kept me wary. D felt much the same. We started the dvd ready to turn it off at any moment.
I think of Groundhog Day, which could so easily have been utterly tedious and maudlin.
But, somehow, they did everything right. The story is weird without mocking, always retaining it's humor. Warm without being sentimental, sad without indulging in manipulation, often implying rather than being explicit. A supporting cast of fully real characters. Lars projects kindness on his doll, and elicits great generosity in those around him.
One element of the story is how we imbue the things around us with personality. Teddy bears, action figures, dolls... the problem being when we think we know what other people are thinking, what their motivations are. We don't know what our pets are really thinking, though we need to try. We especially should never project our own fears and frustrations onto others, always reading the worst of ourselves in others, denying our own failures and angers.
Mostly, just assuming good intention is the best place to start.