Monday, August 17, 2009

Just What America Needs?

In the kind-of annoying trifle Paper Heart, comedian Charlyne Yi (who you might remember from Knocked Up) plays herself in a mock documentary about love. She claims she doesn't believe in it, and so she heads off with her director and friend Nick Jasenovec to interview random folks across the country about why they believe in it. Along the way, she meets and develops a not-love (or is it?) relationship with Michael Cera. Sounds cute enough, but the film actually shares quite a bit of fakery with other mockumentaries, such as Sasha Baron Cohen's Borat or Bruno. For one thing, Nick the on-camera director is not really Nick Jasenovec but an actor named Jake Johnson. And Yi and Cera were actually dating at the time, and were long after the film wrapped (apparently, they just broke up last month).

Yi the character is sweet and innocent. But she's not someone I wanted to spend much more time with. And more importantly, the film is just random and rambling. There's no lesson learned, no point made. It's really just pointless and lame. The Yi-Cera "relationship" would seem to be the central plot that ties the whole thing together, but the conceit of the film (that Cera doesn't like to be on camera) dooms that. As a result, the whole thing just ends. And then you learn about Nick not being the real Nick, and the movie feels more like a cheat — especially because unlike Baron Cohen's films, this one is meant to feel more real.

So I didn't really like Paper Heart. Yes, it's sweet and it's short, and you don't laugh at the real people like you do in a Baron Cohen film (which here is a good thing), but between Yi's character and the fakery, I just can't recommend it. So I'm giving Paper Heart a C.



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