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The Cinematic Katzenjammer: May 31: Paper Man


May 31: Paper Man

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

Paper Man is a fine display of how off-the-rocker a man can become when a bad case of writer's block completely overwhelms his life. The man is certainly not the most likable, by all means, and even comes across as rather creepy, but with the film's heart and imagination, a lot can be forgiven. Paper Man is a fine example how a little indie film can be saved by a star-studded cast and makes you wonder how bad it would have turned out if a bunch of no name actors experience self-loathing, middle age frustrations, and an odd fascination with a rare game hen. Starring Jeff Daniels, Emma Stone, Lisa Kudrow, Kieran Culkin, and Ryan Reynolds, the film certainly surprises. First time directors Michele and Kieran Mulroney are incredibly lucky to have such talent in their directing debut and I strongly believe without the cast, Paper Man would be a very, very, sub-par film. 

I mean, who else but Ryan Reynolds could play Captain Excellent?

Yes, Reynolds is in a cheap superhero suit every time he appears in the film. He actually plays Richard's (Jeff Daniels) imaginary friend that he has had for his entire life. Richard is struggling with so many aspects of his life (career, marriage, etc.) and his only friend, Captain Excellent, seems to be the only constant throughout his mid-life super crisis. When he moves into a new house in a little town, he meets Abby (Emma Stone), a teenage girl he hires to babysit, even though there is actually no child around. You'd think this would be a red flag of creepy, but Abby goes along with it, even gets paid, and the two begin a rather awkward, but cute?, friendship. As Richard continues to struggle writing a new book about the last bird of a species, he learns to grow up (again), find courage in himself and his work, and even let go of a friend who's stuck around for way too long. 

Even if we all know he'll never truly grow up

Paper Man is good, but it is nowhere near incredible. It never escapes the fact that it is, indeed, a low budget indie film and while it has a hard time avoiding certain cliches, it still is very entertaining. It is as heart-warming as it is quirky and odd. Jeff Daniels is terrific as Richard and makes me wonder why the man has not been in a lot more. Emma Stone shows she can definitely act and is much more than a raunchy comedy queen. Ryan Reynolds, as always, is hilarious, and the few moments he graces the screen are not only memorable, but very absurd. He now has, I believe, three superheroes under his belt and I can only assume he's begun a fine little collection. I would definitely recommend Paper Man, especially if you're a writer or just someone struggling to find some creative inspiration. 

The Good:
The entire cast that saves a plot that could have turned ugly had it starred other people
The Bad:
the film's plot is a little hairy, as are the characters, especially Richard, who comes off as a little too creepy
The Ugly:
wondering how many first time filmmakers never get the opportunity to have such great actors starring in their directing debuts

Overall: 6.8/10


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