Paper Man - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Paper Man Reviews

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Super Reviewer
½ July 9, 2012
A novelist with writers block, a failing marriage, and a superhero imaginary friend retreats to Montauk where meets a girl with her own issues.
This is probably the best performance of Jeff Daniels's career as he is able to handle the broadly comic moments with Ryan Reynolds as his imaginary friend and the truly heavy moments with his estranged wife and the babysitter, played by Emma Stone, who doesn't have a baby to sit. He's funny when he needs to be, and his crying scenes come from a real, wounded place.
The film is mostly senseless. By the end, we don't have any idea why these characters have retreated to a land with imaginary companions or what they really gain out of these relationships. The conflicts, namely Richard's argument with his wife, resolve themselves seemingly through magic and a half-hearted, unspecific apology.
Overall, it's lame storytelling by the end, but there are some good moments in the first and second acts, and Daniels has never been better ... except for maybe The Squid and the Whale.
Super Reviewer
February 21, 2011
A little imagination goes a long way

This is fantastic indie movie and a strong directorial/writing debut for Kieran and Michele Mulroney. The casting is interesting and diverse adding in the likes of Emma Stone, Ryan Reynolds, and Kieran Culkin. Each actor turns in their roles well for what they're meant to be. And I must say the film explores many intriguing concepts of one's mind, suggesting also how two people can be so different in age and still relate to how the other is feeling. It is heartfelt and very sentimental. The friendship between Daniels and Stone is sweet and quite emotionally driven. The roles of Reynolds and Culkin add another level to the movie's superiority because they change the film from being "your everyday drama among friends and family" to a individualistic adventure for one's identity in the cruel place that is the world. Overall, there are some flaws in this movie, but its strengths make it a good watch for a film no doubt made on a small budget. It is definitely a drama but when comedy is introduced, it generally hits the mark.

A coming-of-middle-age comedy that chronicles the unlikely friendship between failed author Richard Dunne and a Long Island teen who teaches him a thing or two about growing up, all under the disapproving eye of his long-suffering wife and his imaginary Superhero friend.
Super Reviewer
½ February 4, 2012
I was looking forward to seeing this movie, but I was rather disappointed. For whatever reason, the last half hour of this movie was much more enthralling than the rest of the film. A quirky indie film that could have used a little more quirk, or substance, or something that I can't quite put my finger on. Randomly funny at times, and I thought Emma Stone's character had the most to offer throughout all of it.
Super Reviewer
October 6, 2011
People and critics seemed to not like this movie, but I have had it on repeat for weeks now. I am head over heels in love with the cast and the direction. It is such a great movie. The music is also so top notch that I had to individually search out as many of the songs as I could and purchase them. A favorite at my house for many years to come.
Super Reviewer
½ August 10, 2011
Richard Dunn: What are we, Claire? Are we unhappy or are we just pretending to be unhappy? 

"It's grow up time"

I really like Paper Man. I watched it despite the negative feedback I had heard about it because, well, I'll watch anything with Emma Stone in it. By the way, she really is fantastic. The rest of the cast made it look even better to me. Jeff Daniels, Ryan Reynolds and Lisa Kudrow make a pretty good cast for a little Indie film. What really sold me on this movie was the relationship between Richard(Daniels) and Abby(Stone). I guess your appreciation of this movie will be based on how much you buy this relationship.

Richard is an odd writer, who has a superhero with him at all times. He sees a teenager and for some reason followers her. In time they begin a friendly relationship. While this relationship should seem really weird, it doesn't. That is, once you get past the initial though of it. Both Daniels and Stone really sold their performances and made the movie very likable for me. 

I guess I can see why a lot of people wouldn't really care for Paper Man. Firstly, there's probably a good percentage of people that will be turned off by the fore-mentioned relationship. Although not sexual; it is still kind of weird. If your not a fan of Indie films; you won't like this. It doesn't go out of it's way to make you laugh or feel for the characters. It presents it's story and then let's you make out of it what you will. I got a lot of different things from the story and all in all it was a satisfying film.
Super Reviewer
½ June 7, 2011
If the viewer fails to connect or even relate to it's protagonist from the get-go then they'll immediately find little interest in this film. An extremely bold approach but rewarding when it does find the right audience.

Many critics feel it was too "quirky" and "gimmicky" for it's own good. If anything it wasn't enough! Utilizing the duo's imaginary friends should have been the film's focus not as subsidiary premise elements.

Let's take a step back and take out these "weird" "indy" ideas. What do we have? A story about an aged man searching for direction, connecting with a younger teenager who's also damaged; ultimately finding resolution in each other's influence/friendship. HOW UTTERLY BORING AND FAMILIAR.

Unique stylization in execution was key to Paper Man's intrigue, something the directors failed to recognize or were afraid of pursuing.

Despite all this I actually really enjoyed the film (well, the somewhat pandering voice-over at the end almost killed it for me.) and I'd recommend it to close friends.
Super Reviewer
February 26, 2011
A quirky film about damaged people all getting along. These are the kinds of people that you would run a mile from in real life. Daniels is a huge manchild that needs his imaginary friend to get through life. Reynolds livens up the screen with humor and empathy. In other places the film is a heavyhanded tedious piece. The soup analogy is spelled out for the retards in the audience. The subtleties are rarely allowed to just exist without exposition. Culkin parallels Reynold's bright side as the dark and creepy loner. Without these two sidekicks, the film would fall flat on the tedium of the protagonists. Indie comedies are a lot like indie music. Tuneful, enjoyable, but it all starts to sound the same, and thinks it's more important than it really is.
Super Reviewer
½ January 21, 2010
Cast: Jeff Daniels, Emma Stone, Ryan Reynolds, Lisa Kudrow, Hunter Parrish, Kieran Culkin, Arabella Field

Director: Kieran Mulroney, Michele Mulroney

Summary: Through special friendships with a teenage girl, Abby (Emma Stone), and an imaginary superhero named Captain Excellent (Ryan Reynolds), frustrated novelist Richard (Jeff Daniels) experiences a second adolescence, which helps him discover a completely new way of life.

My Thoughts: "Richard seems to be lost in life. He's unhappily married to Claire (Lisa Kudrow), who spends most of the time away from their home because of work, causing Richard to be left alone, feeling lonely and that he has no purpose in life. He meets Abby, who seems to be just as lost and lonely as him, and they form a friendship. The relationship never feels strange, or that it is crossing any lines. It is a genuine friendship, one that they both needed in this specific time in their lives, and although the difference of their age, they still relate to how the other is feeling. Ryan Reynolds plays "Captain Excellent, who is Richards imaginary friend who pretty much tries to dictate Richards life of bad decisions. He's the only friend Richard has ever had. Reynolds is very funny in his role with perfect comedic timing. Kieran Culkin plays a similar role but a bit darker. The film is so much more then what the cover of the DVD shows. Yes it looks a bit silly, but it's really a sweet, funny, touching, and at times dark film that I very much enjoyed. It truly reinforces the idea that life goes on from even the most desolate of circumstances. This is the first film that I have seen of Emma Stone playing a more serious role. She blew me away. This film proved, for me, she can do much more then just comedies. Jeff Daniels is always fantastic in his films. All the performances were great. This is a fantastic indie movie and a strong directorial/writing debut for Kieran and Michele Mulroney. Can't wait to see what they do next."
Super Reviewer
½ January 31, 2011
These are my favorite kind of movies. Take a weird person and explore their weird lives and at the same time say some profound stuff about common aspects of life. If they can pull this off with great actors and something fun to latch onto, then it's usually gold. This film is about loneliness. It's about people with nobody, who still talk to imaginary friends and don't really know how to interact with others. Jeff Daniels shines again.
Super Reviewer
December 15, 2009
"I mean, I could be a coal miner dying of black lung or something. You could be a Cincinnati crack whore on food stamps."

Paper Man is an oddball indie drama with a great cast, an odd sense of humor, and the occasional turn into deeper territory.

Richard (Jeff Daniels) is a frustrated writer who moves into a cabin outside a small town, in order to inspire himself to write and do some research for his book. Oh, and he has an imaginary superhero friend named Captain Excellent (Ryan Reynolds) who appears to help him whenever he's overwhelmed by a situation, or doesn't know what to do. Richard develops a friendship with a local babysitter named Abby (Emma Stone in full adorability mode) and hires her, even though he and his wife (Lisa Kudrow) have no children. The two of them draw various issues out of each other and help each other with their loneliness as they grow closer in friendship. And there's soup, too.

Paper Man is a tricky movie to recommend. Not because it's bad (I enjoyed it), but because it's the kind of movie that some people will almost automatically like, and some people won't. And there's no real way to tell, except by watching it. I found some of the more fantastical aspects of the movie to be a little extraneous, as the story would have been equally (and perhaps even more) effective without them. Forced quirkiness holds Paper Man back a bit, but it's not bad at all.
Super Reviewer
November 9, 2010
Ok, Paper Man is nothing short of an average story, but it pulls you into it, and creates a very motivational atmosphere that you just do not wish to leave. Ryan Reynolds plays an imaginary superhero thought up by the undeveloped mind of Jeff Daniels character. This is a very averagely scripted movie, but the emotion and believable premise is all present. Paper Man, is by no means great, but a nice film to just sit back and enjoy once.
Super Reviewer
½ October 3, 2010
"A little imagination goes a long way"

A washed-up writer forms an unlikely friendship with a teenager from Long Island.

Just finished watching Paper Man and I wanted to express what a great film I think this is. From beginning to end the movie is touching and full of sublime humor. Sometimes happy, and sometimes sad, the emotional weight leaves you feeling for all of the characters. Jeff and Emma turn in fantastic performances and Ryan's presence brought a smile to all of his scenes. Anyone who has ever felt a bit lost in life will instantly connect with this film, it is inspiring and reminds us that great movies can still be about the little things and characters in all of us. For a debut film, the directors are off to a great start, we need movies like this to remind us that film can still be an art, and does not always have to be about CGI blowouts.
Super Reviewer
½ August 30, 2010
Equal parts charming and melodramatic, I actually liked this film more than I thought I would. It will not save Jeff Daniels or Lisa Kudrow's career, or break out Emma Stone - can she play even ONE different kind of character?? - and it sure won't give Van Wilder or that other Culkin kid credibility. But I can see why they all signed on. this movie's built on an interesting (if tired) concept, the blocked writer. The friendship that develops between the writer (Daniels) and the "babysitter" (Stone) is talked about, but not so well shown. More than anything, this film features most of its characters mostly telling of their baggage. Yawn. But it has its moments, too. I can't quite explain its charm. Again, an indie film trying a little too hard to be an indie film. One that's worth seeing once - I watched it on a plane on the way to a writing retreat though, so maybe I'm pre-disposed to like it...
Super Reviewer
August 1, 2013
Jeff Daniels plays an author, Richard Dunn, who is struggling with starting his second novel. Married to a highly successful vascular surgeon, Claire (Lisa Kudrow), Richard seems mildly autistic and moves into a secluded house on Long Island to begin working on his book. Richard has an imaginary friend, played masterfully by Ryan Reynolds, in Captain Excellent, but seems unable to connect with actual, flesh and blood, until he meets Abby, a high school girl with severe esteem issues. The story unfolds in a way that leaves the viewer sympathetic to these two, damaged souls finding friendship in spite of the obstacles. This viewer particularly enjoyed seeing Emma Stone in an early role, and the range of emotions she projected. Lisa Kudrow also did a masterful job as the put-upon wife who finally lost patience with her husband's inability to cope with even the simplest of tasks. Although the overall tone of the film is quite serious, there are some playful moments of comic relief that prevented this from descending into the maudlin mess it could have been. Written and directed by husband and wife team Kieran and Michele Mulroney, this, their one and only directorial effort so far, indicates a talent for storytelling that has remained strangely untapped. This one worked for me.
Super Reviewer
January 7, 2012
"Paper Man" starts with Claire(Lisa Kudrow), a vascular surgeon, dropping off her husband Richard(Jeff Daniels) at a cottage in Montauk so he can write in peace but the corpse of a dead raccoon bodes ill will. While he is at the end of Long Island, he is stuck on the first sentence of his second novel, distracted by his imaginary friend, Captain Excellent(Ryan Reynolds). So, in order to do some thinking outside and get some exercise at night, he hires Abby(Emma Stone), a local teenager, to babysit for a nonexistent baby which she feels is easy money. Her friend Christopher(Kieran Culkin) would beg to differ, however.

"Paper Man" is an off-beat movie about a friendship between two damaged people that is stretched out to the breaking point of its insubstantial material. In the end, it is the excellent cast that makes the movie worthwhile.(Can we start building statues of Emma Stone now or should I wait a few more movies?) That's not to mention arguably Ryan Reynolds' best work. Plus, there is a late scene that does not involve either lead character that sums everything up perfectly well. Of somewhat less importance, I do agree the first couch is disturbing and like the second, even though it does not look that comfortable. And I would not watch any television for a year rather than only being able to watch the Golf Channel.
Super Reviewer
February 11, 2012
The film was so so. It kind of reminded me of movies like Mr. Brooks, The Wonder Boys, and A Beautiful Mind. On a positive the performances of Jeff Daniels and Emma Stone are terrific in this film. They make the film worth watching. They have a great on screen chemistry together. Lisa Kudrow and Kieran Culkin also lend solid supporting work in the film.

On the negative, the film needed a rewrite. One subplot twist, in my opinion was predictable. Also I thought Ryan Reynolds was miscast. He is too over the top in the role. His costume is a bad spoof of the Superman costume. Another actor in that role would have done a much better job.

The film is worth seeing for Jeff Daniels and Emma Stone's performances.
Super Reviewer
½ February 3, 2012
For all its quirkiness, Paper Man is a familiar indie dramedy, full of somber music, depression, and vulnerable characters. Sometimes this can work if there's a compelling story holding it all together, Paper Man doesn't have that. There's a few good scenes, and Jeff Daniels is always reliable, but the film really doesn't have anything all that profound to say, and fails to really convey anything in a particularly effective way. The film and script don't make us care about any of the characters, their actions seem completely arbitrary and never really interesting, making the film feel dull.

2.5/5 Stars
Super Reviewer
½ February 19, 2011
I had just finished watching An Education (for the second time) and came across this movie while flicking channels on the TV. I thought to myself here we go again another vulnerable young girl is going to be seduced and wooed by the older sophisticated man but to my pleasant surprise this movie was unlike what I imagined.

For one thing the 40ish Richard Dunn (Jeff Daniels) was no smooth suave gentleman waiting to jump on poor 17 year old Abby`s bones. In fact this eccentric man child is downright strange, doesn't seem to appreciate his loving cardiovascular surgeon wife and has some major issues. Not only was his first novel a flop, but he's suffering from a serious case of writer's block, and oh yeah, he has an imaginary super hero friend named Captain Excellent (Ryan Reynolds). This red-caped superhero with his dyed blond hair and blue tights accompanies him everywhere providing advice to the aging author.

In an effort to give him a fresh start Richard's wife, Claire (Lisa Kudrow), drives him out to a rental house so that they can spend the weekends together, but soon Claire returns to her surgical work at New York' Presbyterian Hospital while Richard remains out east trying to develop his second novel.

Enter Abby (Emma Stone), a high school loner with an unsympathetic boyfriend, who also has an imaginary friend Christopher (Kieran Culkin) and a dark secret. Richard and Abby click - over soup, confessions and origami. In fact Richard convinces Abby to take a babysitting position although there is no baby in sight, She's not freaked out at all by this and agrees to do the job for him anyway. They develop a bond and together learn to put the past behind them and embrace the positive in their lives, and in each other.

Wonderful acting performances from Jeff Daniels and Emma Stone who delivers the goods as a self-destructive teenager still reeling from the death of her twin sister! She is an appealing lost soul with a redeeming streak of spunkiness. The friendship between Daniels and Stone is sweet; you get to see how two very different yet very similar people develop a friendship that not many would understand. Together they brought their characters to life and their chemistry was endearing.
Super Reviewer
½ January 18, 2011
"Paper Man" is a small yet highly qualified film. It is a purely indie film from the opening credit art and all the way through to its concluding line. It is insightful and funny yet dramatically moving at times. It certainly has its moments and though the story isn't as impactful their are four pretty special performances that allow this film to rise above what it might have been had it been left in lesser hands. In their directorial debuts, Kieran and Michele Mulroney, a husband and wife team, who yes, are kin to Durmont Mulroney seem to be unsure of which direction to take their own story in. The couple handle the documenting of these characters well, even if the story they have written for them isn't the most enduring nor does it warrant a nearly two-hour run time.

At the top of these performances is one by Jeff Daniels. It is nice, after a while of seeming to want to come off as such a serious actor that he returns to his good ole comedic self. As an author who is experiencing writers block Daniels plays his character as a bit of an eccentric, one who has issues with the ways his couch looks in its surroundings and how it makes him look when he sits on it. The biggest signifier that he is a little off though is the presence of Captain Excellent, a kind of conscious to our protagonist. And as played by man of the moment Ryan Reynolds, Captain Excellent is the best part of the film and no doubt the main idea that this film was founded on. Reynolds, who appears far less than he should offers the manic side of Daniels a good balance. As the story moves along our main character meets Abby, a young girl who seems to be the first human being to be genuinely interested in Daniels author, something sparks and a relationship develops. This relationship of course leads to misunderstanding and miscommunication, but it is the center of the story here and Emma stone matches Daniels point for point and turens in her most dramatic performance to date.

Kieran Culkin is as just a strong an asset to this story as any of his counter parts he is just in a less toted role. It seems though as the movie marches slowly towards its conclusion that we become more focused on the hostory of Abby and begin to lose focus on what the true focus, or more importantly, the significance of this story is. Instead of remaining on Daniels and his inner-struggle or on the relationship, we instead are dragged along on a story that should have concluded much sooner. We become enticed with these characters and we are entertained by the slice of life we are given, but its almost as if they overstay their welcome with the conclusion. We like them and the ideas they bring with them, but only to a certain extent. No more, no less.
Super Reviewer
May 15, 2010
"Paper Man" is the work of love and hard work. The writers spent 5 years trying to get it produced and eventually got the opportunity to direct too. The cast is absolutely packed and even though the plot is a bit drawn out, the performances shine through beautifully. Emma Stone finally gets to show off her range as an actress and that became my favorite part of the film. Will definitely need to see this again.
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