Paper Man (2009)

I stumbled across Paper Man years ago while I was scrolling through Emma Stone's filmography and, since I love her, it ended up on my watchlist. But eventually, it got lost among the thousands of movies in there. 

The film follows Richard Dunn (Jeff Daniels), a 40-something failed writer who still talks to his childhood imaginary friend, Captain Excellent (Ryan Reynolds). When his wife Claire (Lisa Kudrow) drives him to Long Island and leaves him there, alone, so that he can finish his book, Richard meets Abby (Emma Stone), a 17-year-old whom he hires to babysit, despite the fact that he has no kids. When she finds out, Abby seems completely fine with it and the two start to bond. 

I didn't know anything about the film's plot when I started watching and I have to admit that Ryan Reynolds wearing that ridiculous superhero costume almost put me off, but I'm glad I kept watching since it turned out to be such a warm and heartfelt story about the unlikely friendship between an adult man and a teenage girl. Sure, it's pretty straightforward and predictable, but it's interesting enough to keep you watching. 

That happens because Paper Man is all about the relationships and interactions between its characters. It kind of sounds crazy and like it doesn't make a lot of sense as some of the characters are imaginary, but it works. The relationship between Richard and Captain Excellent, Richard and Abby, and Abby and Christopher (Kieran Culkin), a strange boy who follows Abby everywhere, they all serve to show the human need to have someone, to not be alone. 

The friendship that develops between Richard and Abby is very sweet and touching as it fills the void each character has in their lives. It's romantic without being too romantic, and it's a joy to watch it grow. The main reason for it is the beautiful, natural chemistry between Jeff Daniels and Emma Stone --their performances are excellent, the first as a lonely, depressed and unhappy writer, the latter as a vulnerable young woman with no friends and a neglectful boyfriend. 

MPI Media Group
As for the rest of the cast, Kieran Culkin does a good job as the nerdy guy who has a crush on Abby, and Ryan Reynolds brings to the film his great comedic presence and his charm and, no matter how stupid the joke is or how stupid he looks with that costume, he will make you laugh. They both are underused in the film though. Lisa Kudrow was a bit of a surprise. I wasn't sure how she would fit the film but, as it turned out, she provides some good comic relief. 

Ultimately, Paper Man has its flaws --like the simple and predictable story, some paper-thin characters, especially the supporting ones, and at times it tries too hard to be dramatic-- but it's a charming little film that deserves to be watch. 


  1. I don't remember hearing about this film at all and it sounds quite good. I hope I can find it to rent since, yes, I rent dvd's.

    1. It is! It's a shame most never heard about this film.