Paper Man Reviews
Written and directed by a couple of the funny folk who tried to help resuscitate the Power Rangers in 2017 (Kieran Mulroney and Michele Mulroney), it's clear by a stark contrast in every aspect that Paper Man is an independent film. For one, there's no giant Megazord (unfortunately) and instead we get acoustic music, washed out lighting, a dramatic my-life-is-more-depressing-than-yours story-- wait, I knew I liked that reboot a little too much.. Regardless, they're all present in this film as well, just with a clearer, low-budget appeal. Don't get me wrong, I love me some indie tropes and they all play to the strengths of a movie like this.
Struggling novelist Richard Dunn, played by Jeff Daniels, can't seem to find the right place in his wife (Lisa Kudrow)'s life. She spends her days as a busy surgeon, while he fails to produce for his second book. They decide that maybe being near where his subject (the North American Heath Hen) once thrived, he might find better inspiration, prompting his move to a small coastal town. He promises he can get work done now and once she heads back to the city, leaving him to his solitude, Richard finds he can't cope with mundane life and begins to rely on his imaginary, superhero friend Captain Excellent (Ryan Reynolds), for support and advice. Against his (wife's) own better judgment.
Enter Abby, played by pre-Zombieland Emma Stone, one of the local kids with a traumatic past and a not-really-great-either present. Her story revolves around her guilt and how she feels like everything that's happened to her is her fault. Making her our, you guessed it: angsty-teenager-who-doesn't-care-what-anyone-thinks-or-what-happens-to-her character. The two eventually cross paths and spawn an awkward friendship, one that allows them to get things off their chest they wouldn't otherwise be able to alone. As the audience, we get to see that despite their difference in age, they have a lot they can relate and learn from one another.
I'm aware that others could see this movie as slow paced, non eventful, and boring; what with its quiet town, moody themes and dialogue-driven story ..and I would have to agree. But as I mentioned earlier, those are the film's strong points.
Everything should be moot and slow, I think the scenery is intended to be ignored because it's supposed to feel like you've already been there personally. It allows the pacing to rely on character development and not flashy eye-catches and effects. Character development that Daniels and Stone pull off unexpectedly well. Having seen Daniels in a variety of genres, I still find this stumbling procrastinator one of his most believable, while Stone brings a vulnerability that's convincing and realistic. Their friendship feels real and if either of them were replaced, I don't think it would continue to be one of my favorite movies.
If you go into Paper Man expecting a feel-good movie with a happy ending, you're probably in the wrong place. It knows it's limitations and what it can do well, and leaves an open ending like a friend moving away. You don't know where they'll go or what they'll experience, but you're hopeful they'll get their new beginnings. And maybe, just maybe if they come back they'll tell you all about it.
I can't recommend this to everybody because I know how uninteresting it sounds. But for a story about accepting yourself and your shortcomings (and for a movie with so many big names that only brought in $15,000), it's heavily underappreciated and at least worth a scrub through.
Oh and Kieran Caulkin deserves more roles.
"Is this a trial separation?"
I couldn't have been more wrong. The story is compelling. The acting is brilliant. The cinematography is gorgeous.
I laughed, I cried. I saw parts of myself in several characters.
I love this movie.
Super performances by a very interesting cast. Emma Stone owns every second of her screen time. She is mysterious and interesting and not only character-wise. Impressive. The rest of the crew is also doing a good job. The imaginary characters are presented nicely. It's not stupid or overdone.
Neat soundtrack, great dialogues.
Touching and humorus. The first part is the funnier part and I feel it got a long build up that goes in the wrong direction. At that point I felt I was watching a mediocre film. The last 15 minutes or so are lifting it a whole lot.
A film with many aspects and touches. It's rather open for interpretation.
Sentimental and overlooked little gem. Not a fantastic film, but much better than you might think. It's about friendships, dreams, dealing with the truth, letting go and hope. Much to digest, but served on a pretty dish.
7.5 out of 10 soups.