August 7, 2009
Hipsters rejoice! Your latest hoodie-wearing, indie-rock playing, alternatively structured film fix is here! This year’s annual Sundance comedy darling release (previous entries include Little Miss Sunshine, Juno and Hamlet 2) is Paper Heart.
Mixing genres of other mixed genres, mockumentary and romcom, Paper Heart follows Charlyne Yi, whom you will instantly recognize from her sidesplitting scenes as the stoner girlfriend in Knocked Up, as she travels around the country making a documentary about what love really is. Along the way she meets Michael Cera, who is stretching himself and going for an awkward vibe, and the two take a liking to one another. As they go along interviewing preachers, chemists, couples and playground kids about their thoughts on love, their blossoming relationship becomes the “documentary’s” true focus.
Nicholas Jasenovec, who also co-wrote the film with Yi, directs. Upon seeing that his only other credits are short films, one can only deduce that he is the latest to achieve success by way of being friends with people in the Apatow Pyramid - which is not a bad thing. I think one of the prerequisites for entry into that club is being exceptionally talented, of which they seem to be a pretty good judge.
After seeing the trailer, they’ve pulled off the documentary/vérité look well. There seems to be a very blurred line between the actual documentary footage and loosely scripted narrative. While the two leads go by their real names, they aren’t playing themselves but rather versions of themselves. Even more bizarre, they hired an actor, Jake M. Johnson, to play the role of director Nicholas Jasenovec.
Martin Starr, who played Yi’s equally stoned and also bearded (“your face looks like Robin Williams’ knuckles”) boyfriend from Knocked Up, joins the fun in a supporting role. There seem to be a handful a cameos as well, including Seth Rogen, who is trying to keep pace in his race with Cera to see who can be in more movies.
With an undeniably cute trailer, an inventive blend of genres and two leads that radiate with charisma, Paper Heart looks to be a surefire good, possibly very good, film. And with production costs almost certainly at a minimum, it won’t take much for it to be profitable, unless Michael Cera is demanding Michael Tucker’s salary these days. Actually that’s probably not too far off in the future.
They only reservation I have is that it may be just a bit cute. It’d be great to see Yi and Cera resist the awkward pauses that they can milk with comedic ease and go for something a little more biting. But maybe I’m just being greedy. With Yi and Cera in the movie, I’ll be there. (Tom Macy/BOP)