Wednesday, January 6, 2010

DVD Views: Paper Heart

Paper Heart **
Directed By:
Nicholas Jasenovec.
Written By: Nicholas Jasenovec & Charlyne Yi.
Starring: Charlyne Yi (Charlyne Yi), Michael Cera (Michael Cera), Jake M. Johnson (Nicholas Jasenovec).

Charlyne Yi seems like an interesting young woman. I learn from her Wikipedia page that she is precisely the person that she seems to be in Paper Heart, a movie she co-wrote and stars in, playing herself, alongside Michael Cera, also playing himself. She is a stand up comic, who doesn’t really tell jokes – or at least seems not to. She is also a musician and a songwriter, and has become one of the few (perhaps only?) female member of the Judd Apatow stock company who can play just one of the boys. She seems like someone that if you met them at a party, she would be the most interesting one there. Too bad only pieces of her lovability seem to come through in this movie.

Paper Heart takes the form of a documentary, although it isn’t one. Yi plays herself, who along with her friend Nicholas Jasenovec (played here by Jake M. Johnson), decided to make a documentary about Yi and how she doesn’t really believe in love. She interviews people with their own tragic, or heartwarming little love stories as they crisscross America, but nothing really seems to faze Charlyne. That is until she gets to LA and meets Michael Cera, playing himself. The two hit it off and begin dating, changing the focus of the documentary onto their burgeoning relationship. But can it really survive if everything they do is one camera?

Yi and Cera are as adorable together as they are apart. They have a natural chemistry, perhaps because they have been rumored to have dated at one point, or maybe just because they’re good friends. Whatever the reason, these two work well together. Yi is naturally quirky, and Cera continues his series of stumbling, bumbling, tongue characters that he does so well, even if it has started to get a little tired (perhaps because he is not often given the types of roles he had in Superbad and Juno).

For me though, Paper Heart never really gets off the ground. Like many American Independent films, it seems to be intent on being just as overtly quirky as possible, turning the movie into a series of situations where the two characters try to act clever and witty, but simply grows tiresome after a while. More tiresome is Yi’s puppet shows where she acts out the stories being told, that drag on seemingly forever. Sometimes less is more, and although it appears that Paper Heart was made for almost nothing, it still could have used a little bit less.

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