Thursday, April 22, 2010

Paper Man

Film Review by Kam Williams

Headline: Writer Trades Wife for Teen in Midlife Crisis Comedy


                Claire Dunn (Lisa Kudrow), a successful surgeon, is so fed up with her underachieving husband that she’s decided to kick him out of their home in the city on the pretense that a beach house on Long Island during the off season might be a better place for him to work on his novel. But because Richard (Jeff Daniels) has never had anything published, he wonders aloud whether this break from each other supposedly for just the winter might really be a trial separation.

You see, the slacker’s been suffering from a combination of crippling maladies ranging from a midlife crisis to writer’s block to a disturbing tendency to carry on conversations with Captain Excellent (Ryan Reynolds), his imaginary friend in a superhero outfit. And this already confused and lonely soul is about to add a classic case of arrested development to his host of woes soon after his wife drops him off.

For right after his she leaves, this Peter Pan inexplicably hires a luscious, local teenager as a babysitter, even though they don’t have any children. By the time oblivious Abby (Emma Stone) catches on that she’s there to watch him, she’s so intrigued by the eccentric newcomer that she agrees to return regularly. As it turns out, she’s just as troubled, having never quite recovered from the death of her twin sister.

Thus, Abby and Richard bond as kindred spirits, doing their best to keep the relationship Platonic in spite of an unspoken mutual attraction. After all, he’s still married, at least technically; meanwhile, she has an immature boyfriend (Kieran Culkin) who’s always hanging around.

So, unfolds Paper Man, a young girl-old fool dramedy serving up an amusing mix of serendipity and flights of fancy. Written and directed by Kieran and Michele Mulroney (brother and sister-in-law of Dermot, respectively), the movie might best be thought of as Montauk’s answer to Lost in Translation.

Eventually, the moment of truth arrives when shrewish Claire shows up unannounced and catches her hubby in a compromising position on the couch with the not-needed nanny. At that juncture, the miffed spouse throws the proverbial pot of cold water on the cozy arrangement letting Richard’s “It’s not what it looks like, honey!” excuse falls on deaf ears. The only question left is will the philanderer wise up and try to save his marriage, or simply trade in the enraged doctor for jailbait less than half his age?

Love, Long Island style!


Very Good (3 stars)

Rated R for profanity and sexuality.

Running time: 110 Minutes

Distributor: MPI Media Group

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