Comedy, Drama, Action | 110 Mins | Released: 2009
Director: Keiran and Michele Mulroney
Starring: Jeff Daniels, Lisa Kudrow, Emma Stone, Ryan Reynolds, Keiran Culkan, Hunter Parrish, Eric Gililand
Our Rating: 7
Richard is a failed novelist who still talks to his childhood imaginary superhero friend, Captain Excellent. At the urging of his wife Claire, Richard has moved to a Long Island beach community for the winter season in order to overcome his writer’s block. There, Richard meets 17-year-old Abby who he sees while riding his rustic bike around town. He sees her light a fire in the trash can for no apparent reason. He decides to follow her. She confronts him, and Richard, trying not to appear as a pervert, hires her as a weekly babysitter, even though he has no children. Friday night she comes over to watch his “children” but he reveals to her that he has no children. Abby seems completely fine with it and Richard decides to spend his time at the pier, talking to Captain Excellent, who insists that Richard can never make a correct decision without his help. After returning from the pier, Richard comes home to find that Abby has made soup while he was away. He is awed by the fact that she has made this with her hands, as he has been having trouble in using his hands to make anything. He hires her again for the same time next week, though Captain Excellent states that it will only lead to bad things but Richard decides to ignore him. Their tenuous friendship is sparked by Richard’s awe over Abby’s youth and innocence and Abby’s enjoyment of Richard’s writing. They eventually grow so close that their relationships seems to be similar to that of a father and daughter. Abby tells Richard about the death of her twin sister, Amy, while Richard confides in her about his failing marriage. Meanwhile Christopher, who has been there for Abby since Amy’s death, watches her relationship with Richard grow, and though he feels neglected by Abby, all he wants is for her to be happy, no matter what that means for him. In the end Richard and Abby must face the reality of their lives, with Abby standing up to her loutish boyfriend and Richard bidding goodbye to Captain Excellent once and for all.
Paper Man was first shown at the 2009 Los Angeles Film Festival. MPI Media Group acquired the rights to show the film in North America and it was given a limited release on April 23, 2010.
The film was released with the new title Unlikely Hero in the United Kingdom on DVD by Signature Entertainment in April 2014. It has still not been released in any home video format in the United States. E1 films Canada released it on DVD 2010.
Paper Man received negative reviews from critics.
Rotten Tomatoes gives it a score of 29% based on 28 reviews with an average score of 4.6 out of 10.
Metacritic gives the film a score of 37% based on reviews from 15 critics.
Mick LaSalle of The San Francisco Chronicle called the film “listless, tepid, lifeless and fake”.
Kirk Honeycutt of The Hollywood Reporter said it was “Off-kilter and awkward from the get-go, this comedy never finds any rhythm or reason”. Nevertheless, the performances were well received, with Stone taking the lion’s share of the praise.