Paper Heart Directed by: Nicholas Jasenovec Cast: Charlyne Yi, Jake Johnson, Michael Cera Running Time: 1 hr 30 mins Rating: PG-13 Release Date: August 14, 2009
Plot: Uncertain of whether she can ever love someone, Charlyene sets out to interview people across the country on their own thoughts of the all important L-word. In the process she meets Michael, (Cera), which causes her to reconsider her mindset.
Who’s It For? Even if this doesn’t gain a following similar to other “quirky comedies” like Juno, it will still wrangle in some type of hip audience that like their stories about love to be modern, real, and feature tons of American Apparel hoodies.
Expectations: From my one glimpse at the trailer, I feared that while I would likely be warmed by Paper Heart I would probably start choking from the cuteness and maybe sue the film's unbearable "indie" soundtrack for causing deafness.
Actors: Charlyne Yi: Her natural character can’t be faulted, but her presentation can be. At first she’s a bit overdramatic, bellowing the same type of pessimistic BS as if she’s the only person ever not to ride the love boat. But as the film plays on, she proves to be a very excitable presence, interviewing people with contagious enthusiasm despite never taking the time to really reflect on what she has learned. Score: 7
Nicholas Jasenovec: Even though Charlyne is the focus of the documentary cameras, Nick is a definite ringleader of the film, never afraid to push "Chuck" to a certain extent to get genuine images for the film. With this, he becomes a great symbol of the documentary's dilemma of when to shoot and not shoot. Still, the relationship between Charlyne and Nick is wonderfully bromantic. Score: 7
Michael Cera: Maybe it's just the cameras speaking, but I think this is the closest we've ever come to witnessing the real Michael Cera. He prefers to disappear in a crowd, is constantly frustrated by the cameras that follow him, and even scoffs at the idea of making another "quirky comedy." Adding fire to the rumor that one day Hollywood might be Cera-less, this role seems to further hint that he'd prefer to soon disappear from the spotlight, and wear hoodies and play Weezer songs on his guitar just like any other 21-year-old. Score: 9
Talking: Natural dialogue. I mean, this is a documentary, right? Score: 5
Sights: Charlyne constructs puppet reenactments of the interviewee's moments of love, which is often a bit too cutesy for an already perky film. As distinctive to the experience of Paper Heart is also the cameos, which has famous faces like Demetri Martin and Seth Rogen offering their two cents on Charylene's mission. Score: 5
Sounds: Charlyne writes a song for Cera that is more memorable for its sweetness than its musicality. Still, the two work together to make a warm and fuzzy collection of tiny tunes that make up the score. And thank gosh there's really no Juno moment here, though it does have the makings of one. And also, super Weezer fan Michael Cera is seen playing a rare classic, "Devotion," which is actually quite fitting for the "story" of Paper Heart. Score: 8
Best Scene: Many of the moments that feature the two young adults acting like anyone their age would (despite some factor of celebrity) have a touching naturalness to them.
Ending: If you've ever seen a short film from the 70's called ...No Lies, then you'll be ready for the twist that this film pulls ever so slightly at the last moment possible.
Questions: To use one of my favorite Madea quotes: "How are you gonna love somebody if you don't love yourself?"
Rewatchability: The story of Charlyne and Cera has the potential to be cherished like those of other modern notable couples, (Nick and Norah, Juno and Paulie) ... which by no coincidence feature Cera.
The interviews are slightly interesting, but the cushy (though imaginative) reenactments of "moments of love" threaten to overload the film on its level of cuteness. Thankfully, Paper Heart stays within its boundaries, and also brings a unique presentation of the age old quandary of the all-consuming topic of *~L-O-V-E~*. But if the film were to break it off with the interviews and reenactments, the chemistry of Charlyne and Michael Cera could make Paper Heart beat just as true.
Final Score: 7/10