Saturday, January 8, 2011

Paper Man Blu-ray Review

While this movie wasn’t a box office smash, it was well received on the indie circuit and its tale of a man and his imaginary superhero friend is now available on Blu-ray.  The movie came about during a bleak time for the husband and wife team of Kieran and Michele Mulroney who almost had theirJustice League movie filmed until it was canceled at the last minute which left them despondent over show business.  They wrote and directed this movie during that period when they weren’t sure if they even wanted to continue in their profession.
Fortunately, they did and they went on to write screenplay for the upcoming sequel to Robert Downey Jr.’s Sherlock Holmes movie.

Film (4 out of 5 stars) 

The movie opens with the struggling writer Richard Dunn (Jeff Daniels) being driven to a remote cottage by his wife (Lisa Kudrow) in an effort to help him focus on writing his second book.  His first book was not successful and you get the idea that this is just the latest of many different attempts by Richard’s wife to get him focused and on track.
Richard is suffering from more than writer’s block, as he seems unable to communicate with his wife and feels that his life is adrift and without meaning.  Part of that isolation is his own fault, as he refuses to grow up and still has conversations with his imaginary superhero friend Captain Excellent (Ryan Reynolds).   In a funny twist, it’s the imaginary Captain Excellent who seems the most sensible and responsible out of everyone in Richard’s life.
After being left by his wife, Richard tries writing but is unable to stop fixating on distractions around him and he can’t stop himself from trying to fix his environment to meet his expectations.  He quickly realizes that he needs help (especially since he refuses to listen to Captain Excellent’s excellent advice), and he hires a troubled young girl named Abby (Emma Stone) to come over and babysit….him.
The two of them strike up an unusual friendship due to their similar emotional states.  Richard has never grown up and  due to an early tragedy in her life, Abby never got much of a childhood.  Because of that, both of their lives are in a constant holding pattern which has deprived both of them the chance to move on with their lives.
The movie has a nice message about how two messed up people were able to reach out to each other to help the other move on and it benefits greatly from a great cast.  I’ve always been a fan of Jeff Daniels who despite his understated acting can play any role.  No matter what kind of role it was in movies likeSomething WildDumb and Dumber, or The Squid and the Whale, he was always up for the challenge.  It’s nice to see him in a showcase role like this and he does a great job with it.
Ryan Reynolds is funny as the wise but ignored Captain Excellent and it was amusing to see him walk the tightrope of playing an over the top superhero when he knew he had Green Lantern and Deadpool following this movie.  That takes some guts and I admire his willingness to take roles like this in independent movies. Emma Stone is also great as Abby and she brings a lot of believability to her role.
I enjoyed the movie overall and liked its originality, but at times it was a little too quirky for me and I really didn’t see the need for Kieran Culkin’s role as Abby’s friend whose sullen presence dragged the movie down for me.  He spends most of the movie stalking Abby and even when the reasons are explained, it still struck me an unnecessary and artificial and added just for a twist that doesn’t pay off.  I don’t want to spoil anything so I will leave it at that, but the movie would have been a lot better without his character in my opinion.

Video (4 out of 5 stars) 

The  1080p (1.77:1) transfer looks pretty sharp and detailed.  There are some soft shots but this is an overall pleasing transfer.  Flesh-tones are realistic and consistent, and black levels are satisfactory but not perfect.  To be fair, for an independent movie, this looks really good.

Audio (3 1/2 out of 5 stars) 

The Dolby Digital  5.1 surround track was nothing astounding but perfectly suited for the movie.  Being a dialogue driven movie, most of the action was delivered by the front speakers with some occasional backup from the satellite speakers.  LFE is fairly non-existent except in a few instances.  Dialogue is clear and never overwhelmed by the soundtrack.

Special Features (2 1/2 out of 5 stars) 

Most independent movies don’t offer a lot of extras and this one is no different. There’s a very basic making of featurette and some extra scenes that were trimmed.  None of them add a whole lot of value but I did like hearing every one’s comments about Captain Excellent.
  • Making-of featurette
  • Deleted, Alternate and Extended scenes
  • Trailer

Final Thoughts (3 1/2 out of 5 stars) 

While I enjoyed the movie’s originality and offbeat tendencies, there are times when those same tendencies sabotage what could have been a great movie. Without this fantastic cast, my rating for the movie would have been a lot lower but the entire cast brings their considerable talent and charm to their roles and it really lifts the movie.  If you enjoy quirky original comedies, I think you might just enjoy this movie.  At the very least, you can enjoy spending some time with this talented cast.
Order your copy today!

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