Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Good on Paper: Movie Review

A romantic comedy that smartly drops the romance.
Good on Paper is very much an Iliza Shlesinger movie. It features her playing a version of herself, some of her stand-up material, and a lot of the themes from her stand-up. Something else to note up front is that this is not a romantic comedy. Comedy yes, but then it spins the romance into something with a bit more bite.   2021

Directed by: Kimmy Gatewood

Screenplay by: Iliza Shlesinger

Starring: Iliza Shlesinger, Ryan Hansen

Andrea (Iliza Shlesinger) is a stand-up comedian/struggling actress with a chip on her shoulder since she hasn’t been able to make it big, and LA’s population is predominantly assholes with few good men to be found. Enter Dennis (Ryan Hansen), smart, rich, funny, and nice. Andrea describes him as “simultaneously pompous and humble”. I love that description, and there is no better actor on paper to play such a character than Ryan Hansen.

It wasn’t love at first sight. She doesn’t find him attractive, he’s so different from the usual guys in LA that she doesn’t quite get him, and she friendzones him. Eventually he has to up .his game if he wants her to be his girlfriend. What I like about Good on Paper is that this is not a friends becoming more than friends rom-com. Primarily because this isn’t a rom-com. It looks like a rom-com, but as the trailer and title suggest, the questions of ‘who is Dennis?’ ‘What is he hiding?’ ‘And why is he lying?’ quickly turn the movie around.

The movie moves slowly despite having a short run-time and properly paced acts. Act 1 is the set-up, introduction of characters, your typical rom-com beginning. Act 2 is the action, Andrea and her friends uncovering the truth; Act 3 is the denoument, an ending you don’t typically see in romantic comedy world, and a little too extreme for real world. However, all three acts are tied together with Shlesinger’s stand-up. A theme she has always discussed, namely, finding love as an independent career-focused woman, is put on trial.

There are solid jokes throughout the movie. Andrea’s best friend Margot (Margaret Cho) is hilarious and Andrea has many funny observations. Although since comedy is subjective, your view of this being funny will be contingent on if you find Schlesinger’s stand-up specials funny. I typically do, but this has better range as you would expect a movie should. Some viewers will find the frequent cuts to some of Shlesinger’s actual stand-up routines off-putting, but I like how they fit the movie.

Good on Paper does have a point, not revealed until the very end, and not significantly deeper than Shlesinger’s stand-up, but it’s a romantic comedy that smartly drops the romance and tries to give It more bite.