Review: Paper Man DVD

Paper Man DVD boxSTUDIO: MPI | DIRECTOR: Kieran and Michele Mulroney | CAST: Jeff Daniels, Emma Stone, Ryan Reynolds, Lisa Kudrow, Kieran Culkin, Hunter Parrish
RELEASE DATE: 1/18/10 | PRICE: DVD $27.98, Blu-ray $34.99
BONUSES: featurette, deleted and alternate scenes
SPECS: R | 110 min. | Comedy drama | widescreen | Dolby Digital 5.1 | English subtitles

RATINGS (out of 5): Movie | Audio | Video | Overall

Paper Man plays like the quintessential, indie-styled comedy-drama movie, albeit with a top-notch cast. Quiet, offbeat and occasionally affecting, it’s definitely a heartfelt little film with something to say whose flaws can be found in its attempts to balance out its quirkiness with its drama. That said, there are certainly some charms to be had, especially in the performances.

At the urging of his wife Claire (Lisa Kudrow, Bandslam), failed novelist Richard (Jeff Daniels, Howl) has moved to a Long Island beach community for the winter season to overcome his writer’s block. While there, Richard develops an unlikely friendship with Abby (Emma Stone, Easy A), a 17-year-old girl whose role in a family tragedy years earlier has stolen away her youth. Now, if Richard could just come to terms with the presence of Captain Excellent (Ryan Reynolds, Buried), a costumed superhero who lives in his head and feeds him lessons for life — and not often the right ones!

Written and directed by the husband-and-wife team of Kieran and Michele Mulroney (who are penning the upcoming Sherlock Holmes sequel), Paper Man works when its eccentric comedy and drama don’t get too serious.

Daniels and Stone portray two characters with serious emotional problems lying just beneath their skin (well, Daniels’ problems are a bit more obvious via his interaction with the imaginary Reynolds), and when the Paper Man zeroes in on those problems, it takes on an uncomfortable tone that hasn’t been established in the film’s first half. And those earlier scenes are the film’s best, particularly as the middle-age man and the teen get to know one another and engage in scenarios involving Origami, bike riding, redecorating and cooking soup. But the serious stuff that comes in the last third, though it offers a satisfying resolution to the story and is well-acted, doesn’t fit right with what we’ve previously seen.

It’s really all about the excellent team of Daniels and Stone, though the supporting cast is fine across the board, particularly Reynolds, (whose bleached blonde hair and outfit are simply a scream), the always-fine Kudrow as Daniels’ frustrated wife, and Kieran Culkin (Scott Pilgrim vs. the World) as Stone’s troubled friend who’s not-so-secretly in love with her.

The bonus features include a selection of deleted, alternate and extended scenes, all of which reveal the different directions the talented cast tried when playing with the material.

 

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About Laurence

Founder and editor Laurence Lerman saw Alfred Hitchcock’s North by Northwest when he was 13 years old and that’s all it took. He has been writing about film and video for more than a quarter of a century for magazines, anthologies, websites and most recently, Video Business magazine, where he served as the Reviews Editor for 15 years.