Directed By: Nicholas Jasenovec
Starring: Charlyne Yi, Michael Cera, Jake Johnson
Charlyne Yi is a young woman with serious doubts about love. Since she’s a comedian and a musician that hangs out with other comedians and musicians and filmmakers the only thing to do is to make a documentary about Charlyne trying to find out what love is.
So Charlyne, played by Charlyne, and her filmmaking friend Nick, played by Jake Johnson, (the real Nick was not comfortable in front of the camera so he just directed and help produce and write) and a small film crew head out across the country in a van to interview people about love. At one point while back in L.A. Charlyne and Nick go to a party, not to waste an opportunity they bring along the camera crew and Charlyne interviews some of her and Nick’s friends. While at the party they bump into Michael Cera, played by Michael Cera, who is an acquaintance of Nick’s. From the start Michael’s kind of got something for Charlyne. It takes a while for Charlyne to believe it though.
Eventually they go out for lunch and when Michael leaves in a manufactured huff Charlyne realizes that maybe she feels something for him. Michael does reappear, he just ducked out and walked around the block to sneak in the back entrance, as he admits when he shows back up, it would have been funnier if it had not took so long.
So Charlyne and Michael start seeing each other and the interviews of older couples talking about how they fell in love and stayed in love over the years starts to take on a new meaning. When Charlyne is not on the road they continue to see each other. Their relationship has become the heart of the story now and the camera follows them everywhere. Not the most fertile ground to build a relationship on. The strain becomes a little to great and everything comes to a head when Charlyne and Michael find out the producers have agreed to pay for a trip to Paris for the conclusion of the movie.
It took me a while to realize it, but Paper Hearts is a straight up romantic comedy. There is the meet cute, the courtship, the crisis and then the resolution. It’s just been plopped down into a fake documentary. Not that that is a bad thing in itself it just shows the power of those established formulas. The documentary portions are decent, all of the interviews are interesting but it really only works as a part of the movie as a whole. The writing, dialog and performances are all naturalistic so it all blends well. Micheal, Jake and Charlyne all turn in credible performances although you are left wondering at the end of the film how much Charlyne was actually acting or if she was just basically playing herself. Personally I don’t think even playing your self in front of a camera would be all that easy so if that is “all” she was doing she still deserves at least some accolades.
So the acting is good, the story is an interesting twist on an old formula, the cinematography is great, the are amazing little quirky animated sequences, there is cool music, it should add up to a great film, but it doesn’t. It’s not a bad film and I’m having trouble figuring out exactly what it is that ‘s keeping it from being a great film. Maybe it’s just a little too aware of itself. Maybe the actors playing themselves except for the ones that don’t is just too distracting. Maybe the awkwardness is just a little too awkward, but there is something there that prevents it from moving up from good to great.
The video is presented in wide screen format. Some of the dark interior scenes contained a hint of grain in the backgrounds but the subjects were always detailed nicely. The blacks were all crisp and never grayed out. It’s a sharp, clean transfer which you would expect from a new release. The only defects I noticed were a little aliasing around the edges of back lit subjects and some striped objects get a little blurry but none of these ever rose to a level of being distracting and were no more than what you will usually find. Which is a nice because there are a number of very nice compositions.
The audio is presented in Dolby 5.1 Surround Sound with English and Spanish subtitles. The dialog is always clear and well mixed with the score and other original music by Charlyne Yi and Michael Cera which sounds great. It complements the movie perfectly.
The Packaging and Bonus Features
The DVD comes in a standard Amaray case, but with sections knocked out to reduce the amount of plastic used in manufacturing it, and a cardboard slipcover. The artwork consists of memorable moments from the movie. The menu’s continue the theme and are simple and easy to navigate. There is quite a bit of bonus material. Two featurettes, some live performance footage of Charlyne Yi, a video of the song Charlyne and Michael perform in the movie, some interviews about love with a bunch of comedians, and some deleted scenes. A fair bit of material and it’s worth watching, but I’ll always be a little bit disappointed without at least one commentary track.
Like I mentioned earlier this is a good movie. With all the bad and worse movies out there being good should be enough but for some reason in this case it seems mildly disappionting.
Overall (Not an Average) 6/10
The Movie 6/10
The Video 7/10
The Audio 8/10
The Packaging and Bonus Features 7/10
Overall (Not an Average) 6/10