Paper Man

2010

Paper Man

Critics Consensus

No consensus yet.

32%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 31

48%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 3,364
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Movie Info

Paper Man is a comedic drama about an unlikely friendship between Richard, a failed middle-aged novelist who has never quite grown up and Abby, a 17-year-old girl whose role in a family tragedy years earlier has stolen away her youth. Richard has moved to a Long Island beach community for the winter season in order to overcome his writer's block. There, he meets Abby and hires her as a weekly babysitter, even though he has no children. As the season progresses and the warm, quirky friendship between Richard and Abby grows, the two begin to share with each other their dreams and life hardships. With the coming of spring, Richard and Abby discover there comes a time to let go of the imaginary friends of the past and to embrace the future.

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Critic Reviews for Paper Man

All Critics (31) | Top Critics (14) | Fresh (10) | Rotten (21)

  • Aided by subtly wounded performances by Daniels and Stone, and a surprisingly affecting comic turn from Reynolds, Paper Man makes up for many of its shortcomings with an abundance of heart.

    Jul 18, 2010 | Rating: 6.4/10 | Full Review…

    Ian Buckwalter

    NPR
    Top Critic
  • The manipulations characters act out with each other are realistic, even if the overlong and not-nearly-twee-enough comedy built around them isn't, making for a movie whose script may have had more merit than its execution. Or not.

    Jun 30, 2010 | Rating: 2/4
  • A big Twinkie stuffed with indie-film cliches and glazed with chiming emo guitars.

    May 28, 2010 | Full Review…
  • What we have in this film is a whole lot of nothing, and the little that's there is irritating.

    May 20, 2010 | Rating: 2/4 | Full Review…
  • We don't even get a real sense of what kind of writer Richard is, or even if he's any good. It does make a difference, after all, if the novel he can't write is worth writing. A bigger question: Was "Paper Man" worth making?

    May 7, 2010 | Rating: C- | Full Review…
  • Ignore the story of Paper Heart ... Concentrate instead on the delightful performances.

    Apr 28, 2010 | Rating: B- | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Paper Man

  • Jul 12, 2017
    I've never been a big superhero guy. I mean I've watched and enjoyed many superheroes and will, very likely, continue to. What I mean by that is that I didn't grew up reading comics. I remember back when I was 10, give or take a few years, I bought a couple of Nightwing comics, but that was really the extent of my comic experience. Now that I remember, I have the visual novel for both Watchmen and V For Vendetta. I bought those closer to the age I am now. Maybe that's my bad and maybe I've missed out on some really great comics, but there's so many series and superheroes that I just don't have the patience to keep up. This is relevant because the main character in the film, a writer, has an imaginary friend who's a superhero. Another aside, one of my friends has told me that I should write a book. I know what you must be thinking, but she's serious about this. I mean I've certainly thought about it, but I'm not confident enough in my own skills to actually write a book, much less actually sell it to someone if I do write one. I don't know why I went on that tangent, but it is what it is. You're not reading this review because you expect quality, damnit. Seriously though, another one of those 'life-changing friendship' movie that I've watched three of (including this one) in the last two weeks. Out of the three (Chu & Blossom, The Last Word and this one), I'd still say that Chu & Blossom was the best of the bunch. I just think it did a better job at capturing a stronger sense of friendship than the other two did. That's not to say that this film is bad by any stretch of the imagination. It's a perfectly decent movie about the budding friendship between a struggling writer and a high school student, both going through some dark moments while also battling their demons. Well, I mean, demons in that both have imaginary friends. One of the problems I had in the handling of these imaginary friends, who help both Richard and Abby cope with their past mistakes (particularly in Abby's case), is the fact that Abby's is handled so predictably. And perhaps predictably isn't even the right way to describe it. But they tease this thing that Christopher (Abby's imaginary friend) might actually be real. The problem comes in the that they're so obviously telegraphing it, that it's not really a surprise once Chris and Captain Excellent (Richard's imaginary friend) have a conversation, which is when they, obviously, reveal the fact that Chris isn't a real person. Perhaps they weren't even trying to tease that he was a real person, but it sure came across like it. So, yea, that didn't really work for me. The film hits the predictable story threads you would expect. Richard, struggling to write his second novel, is going through some rough times with his wife. And it's the same shit you've seen elsewhere. Richard hasn't really grown up. Not saying that he's a man-child, like you'd see Adam Sandler play, but he just hasn't been the best husband he could be, since he is stuck in his own mind and dealing with his own issues relating to his failed writing career and his imaginary friend holding him back. I find Abby's backstory to be more interesting, as her twin sister drowned as part of a dare Abby made. It's later revealed that they had a pact that they were both going to drown and her sister did, but Abby swam back. Perhaps it's a little dark for this type indie dramedy, but I found it to be one of its more compelling elements. The acting is strong, no surprise there. I love Emma Stone, so it's always great to see her. Jeff Daniels has always been very good. Ryan Reynolds is really underrated as an actor, so I can't really complain about the casting at all. What I can complain about is the scripting. Not that there's anything truly, inherently wrong with it. But I just found the whole friendship changing Richard and Abby for the better, to the point that they finally have no use for their imaginary friends, a little forceful and the ending quite sentimental. I don't know, part of me just really didn't feel it. This friendship, I believe, takes place over the course of three months, but the way the film is paced, it feels shorter than that. Now, you may ask yourself, how do you make a film that takes place over the span of three months, well it's certainly possible. I don't know how you do it, but I know it's possible. I think the fact that it takes place in this beach community. And I get that you needed this community in order to sell Richard's solitude in order to get him to focus on his writing. But there's something about this town, where it all feels like nothing is moving forward. Like they're stuck in time. Because of that, it doesn't feel like these Richard and Abby really know each other too well in order for their friendship to be as transformative as they tried to portray it. Maybe I'm being too picky and I'm just trying to find a reason to not like this movie, but I wouldn't do that. The movie is just missing a certain something that would have made it, to me, good. Because the acting is already very good, I just felt that the script was a little lacking in certain respects. They have these characters and, at least with Richard, they just do the bare minimum. He's struggling to write his second book and his marriage is on death's door, this is something we have seen before and it just didn't really do much for me here. This is decent enough, but I can't really give this a recommendation. The cast is great, but, outside of some interesting backstory on Abby, there's really not much to the characters. And for a film that's all about the characters and their relationships with one another, that's a big no-no. Decent enough, but there's nothing here that you need to see.
    Jesse O Super Reviewer
  • Aug 01, 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.
    Mark A Super Reviewer
  • Jul 09, 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.
    Jim H Super Reviewer
  • Feb 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.
    Sol C Super Reviewer

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