Release Date: out now
Directors/Writers: Kieran Mulroney, Michele Mulroney
Starring: Jeff Daniels, Emma Stone, Lisa Kudrow, Ryan Reynolds, Kieran Culkin
Studio/Run Time: Artfire Films, 110 mins.
Growing up is hard to do
Richard (Jeff Daniels) is a novelist with a maturity problem. He’s an eight-year-old in a middle-aged body, relying on his long-suffering wife Claire (Lisa Kudrow) to make his food, plan his life, and take away his dead raccoons. Unable to finish (or even start) his highly-anticipated second novel about the last chicken of a now-extinct breed, Richard ends up at a rented cottage in Montauk, hoping the peace and quiet will stimulate his creativity while Claire commutes back and forth from the city on weekends. But even Richard’s lifelong imaginary friend, Captain Excellent (Reynolds), can’t help him out of his rut.
Desperate for sympathetic human contact, Richard makes an unlikely friend in Abby (Emma Stone), a teenager whose life is marked by a childhood tragedy. Her soup-making skills and frank friendliness impress Richard, and they grow close, sensing a kindred spirit in one another. Though their friendship starts to chip away at their respective coping mechanisms, the process won’t be easy or painless.
For a comedy with plenty of laughs, Paper Man is pretty sad; not exactly depressing, but full of broken characters so alienated from the people around them that they’ve had to withdraw into themselves and converse with their imagined alter egos. But this directorial debut for the Mulroney husband-and-wife team is nimbly written and well-acted—particularly by Emma Stone, whose dramatic abilities have rarely been showcased until now. Clever, quirky, and surprisingly affecting, Paper Man is a good reminder of what it takes to finally grow up.