Thursday, April 26, 2012

Paper Man (2009) - Review

Be it my stony heart, or my lack of empathy, or whatever, but there are few movies that I would call heartwarming.  A lot of movies TRY to be heartwarming, but not many succeed.  Sometimes it's filled to the brim with sap, sometimes the acting is too over-the-top, sometimes it's too cliched.  But heartwarming movies aren't dead.  No.  This one proves it.

Paper Man revolves around a neurotic writer played by Jeff Daniels who still has an imaginary friend played by Ryan Reynolds.  Oooh, wacky comedy ensues.  Except not really.  Despite some funny moments here and there, the film is largely a drama, touching on generic issues like friendship and self-worth in a realistic and, dare I say it, touching way.

The casting is genius; almost everyone works perfectly.  Jeff Daniels and Emma Stone are pitch-perfect and both come off as incredibly charming despite being incredibly messed up.  Every so often, Ryan Reynolds swoops in to save things from getting too depressing with a really fun and inspired performance.  Lisa Kudrow, while annoying, is mostly irritating because we're so on Jeff Daniels' side throughout the whole thing.

However, the best part of the film by far is the relationship of Richard and Abby (Daniels and Stone).  Their friendship plays out so fluidly and they have such great chemistry that you really fall in love with the friendship along with both of them.  It's a testament to both actors and the writing that it works so well and manages to be so touching at the end, even when the plot wraps up in a way that you might expect.  It's a film about friendship and growing up.  It somehow talks about those things in such an obvious and straightforward manner without making them seem silly in the slightest.  It's a very powerful film, and it certainly resonates beautifully.  The heart is now warm.

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