{2jtab: Movie Review}

Paper Man - Blu-ray Review


3 Stars

Our imaginations are funny things.  They can drive us forward to meet our destinations or exhaust us with supreme isolation.  Paper Man is about the type of imagination that absolutely crushes its beholder with limiting remoteness for two people, one inside a childless marriage, and the other, inside a local community.  Co-directed by the husband-and-wife team of Kieran and Michele Mulroney, Paper Man waxes poetic with some quasi-heavy themes – writer’s block, lineage, suicide, and death – inside a light-hearted story that doesn’t ask much from its audience.

Approaching mid-life, Richard (Jeff Daniels) seeks a quiet residence for some summer writing.  His wife (Lisa Kudrow) is supportive as she, too, could use a break from his obsessive and child-like ways.  Richard quickly finds himself distract – doing what all writers do – and finds any excuse not to write the follow-up to his initial book.  Seemingly ashamed of his first book’s failure, Richard buys as many copies as he can and starts to make furniture out them; always unsure of what to do with his hands.  Young teen, Abby (Emma Stone) ends up meeting Richard and becoming his “baby-sitter” for the child he doesn’t have and discovers his book; the two quickly become friends and discover more about themselves as highly imaginative people.  It seems Abby and Richard both have the same secret: their loneliness has created an imagined friend.  For Richard, it’s Captain Excellent (Ryan Reynolds).  For Abby, it’s her “forever” boyfriend, Christopher (Kieran Culkin).

Daniels seems to relish this role and it is refreshing to see him resurrect the edginess he is fully capable of.  There is a cool breeziness to the type of strange he brings to Richard and it’s certainly never droll to see him act out his obsessions.  He’s consistently on fire and, matched against the lovely Emma Stone, never once lowers his guard.  It’s a good team and, together, the two of them sell the film without misstep.  Stone is quite a talent herself and she shows more sensitivity here than in Easy A.  She will be one to watch in the coming years as she realizes her own strengths as an actress.

What’s interesting in Paper Man is how well-used the imaginary characters are.  Reynolds is tasked to be both humorous and sensitive and, while it might not work for some, the character of Captain Excellent provides exactly that.  It all depends on how much weirdness you can tolerate.  His hair is bleach-blonde.  His outfit is ridiculously tight and his words are supposed to inspire a certain “go get ‘em” response from Richard.  The only time, though, there seems to be a true chemistry between the two agents, though, is towards the end when Captain E. finds himself at wit’s end with Richard.  He doesn’t want Richard to carry on with Abby; it’s dangerous and people won’t understand.  Yet, Richard does exactly what Captain E. tells him not to do.  Proof positive, that he doesn’t need him anymore.

Yes, that’s the lesson.  That’s the growing Richard, who openly acknowledges his imaginary friend, needs to do in order to make things right with his life.  There’s a poetic beauty to the quirk of Paper Man which sometimes gets undercut by its own unfolding; making it really hard to establish the right tone for the film.  Is it wild and reckless?  No, but I do question its thematic consistency and the ending is simply too nicely wrapped up to be completely satisfying.  There’s proof of talent here, just a little undeveloped in the directing department.

Paper Man won’t tip the scales with thoughtful analysis, but it does make for some passionate filmmaking – even if it is not wholly a comedy or a drama.


{2jtab: Film Info}

Paper Man - Blu-ray ReviewMPAA Rating: R for language and a scene of sexuality.
: Kieran Mulroney, Michele Mulroney
: Kieran Mulroney, Michele Mulroney
Jeff Daniels; Emma Stone; Ryan Reynolds; Lisa Kudrow
: Comedy; Drama
A little imagination goes a long way.
Memorable Movie Quote: "Nice bike, though. I used to ride one of these when I was your age. My parents put it in a yard sale. So I had to kill them. "
MPI Media Group
Release Date:
April 23, 2010
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
January 18, 2011

Synopsis: Paper Man is an inspirational comedic drama about an unlikely friendship between Richard (Jeff Daniels), a failed middle-aged novelist who has never quite grown up and Abby (Emma Stone), a 17-year-old girl whose role in a family tragedy years earlier has stolen away her youth. Both are unsure, both are afraid to take firm steps forward, and both rely on the imaginary friends in their heads to help guide them into the future - for Richard, it is the costumed superhero Captain Excellent (Ryan Reynolds), and for Abby, it's morose fellow teenager Christopher (Kieran Culkin).

At the urging of his wife Claire (Lisa Kudrow), Richard has moved to a Long Island beach community for the winter season in order to overcome his writer's block. There, Richard meets Abby and hires her as a weekly babysitter, even though he has no children. Their tenuous, new friendship is sparked by Richard's awe over Abby's homemade soup and Abby's enjoyment of Richard's writing and his attempts at Origami. As the season progresses and the warm, quirky friendship between Richard and Abby grows, the two begin to share with each other their dreams and life hardships. Becoming the best of friends, Richard and Abby discover there comes a time to let go of imaginary friends of the past and to embrace the future as a new beginning-just as one would embrace a new and unique friendship.


{2jtab: Blu-ray Details}

Paper Man - Blu-ray Review

Component Grades
Blu-ray Disc
3 Stars
2 stars
Blu-ray Experience
2.5 stars


Blu-ray Details:

Available on Blu-ray - January 11, 2011
Screen Formats: 1.85:1
: English SDH, Spanish
DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, Linear PCM 2.0 (English)

Discs: 50GB Blu-ray Disc; Single disc (1 BD)

With muted colors throughout, the only thing that really looks in Hi-Def is Reynolds super bright costume. Dark colors dominate the disc which suffers a tad from its low bitrate. Mostly natural, the settings are vivid and alive with detail. There is some flickering to the image, but nothing too substantive and certainly nothing garnering a reason not to watch this little indie flick. The sound doesn’t seem to be mixed for 5.1 as all dialogue is front-speaker with only a few sounds providing ambience.



  • MPI did not provide one for this disc.

Special Features:

There aren’t a lot, but with a film this quiet there really isn’t a reason to provide any.  What you get are some deleted scenes and the typical ‘Makin-Of’ featurette.

The breakdown is as follows:

  • "The Making of Paper Man" (13 min)
  • Eight Deleted Scenes (7 min)

{2jtab: Trailer}