Even though Good On Paper falls short of landing every move it tries to make, it is still fun to watch on a lazy afternoon.
Staring: Iliza Shlesinger, Britney Yong, Christopher Nicholas Smith
Direction: Kimmy Gatewood
Thanks to Covid-19, going to the cinema and watching a movie seems like an act that belongs in a past life. Despite getting closer to getting our old life, we still don’t know when we will be able to return to the cinemas. Sitting in the middle of a hundred people in a closed space feels unreal and scary at the same time. Yet, we all know that we’ll get there one day, and we’ll look back at this time and thank Netflix for all the content it brought to our home screens and kept us entertained.
I recently came across the trailer of Good On Paper and decided to stream it with a friend on a lazy Saturday afternoon. As the name suggests, the story revolves around Andrea Singer (Iliza Shlesinger) who has everything working for her. She’s a moderately successful comedian with gigs lined up, but she dreams of breaking through into the scripted world – a dream that her rival Serrena Halstead (Rebecca Rittenhouse) seems to have achieved without much effort at all. (She’s even got her face on a billboard). After a failed audition, she ends up next to a man, Dennis Kelly (Ryan Hansen) on her flight back to Los Angeles. On the flight, Andrea finds out that Dennis is a Yale graduate who works in hedge funds. Dennis comes from a different world – but he seems kind and funny, putting Andrea at ease.
As adamant as Andrea is to keep things strictly platonic, she ends up agreeing to be Dennis’s girlfriend after a crazy night out. Despite not finding him attractive, she decided to find happiness in their relationship and ignores the red flags her friend Margot (Margaret Cho) calls her attention to. But what’s too good to be true is rarely ever true, Andrea also finally realizes that Dennis may indeed be too good to be true after all.
The script had a lot of potential but for some reason the execution seemed lackluster. I also felt like there was not enough reasoning in the plot. Like why did Andrea decide to date Dennis when she had everything going for herself? Why was she compelled to choose him even though she wasn’t particularly attracted to him? This also made me wonder if the pressure to settle down and be with someone is the same on a fairly successful comedian in Los Angeles as most of us? And if that really is the case, then God help us!
But coming back to Good On Paper, even though the movie falls short of landing every move it tries to make, it is still fun to watch. The actors have done a convincing and remarkable job, which adds to making it fun too. For someone like Ryan Hansen, who is mostly charming, it takes effort to deliver a great performance as an undesirable man and he has put in that effort to look and sound convincing. My friend who watched the movie couldn’t stop saying ‘omg omg omg’, throughout his acts because it couldn’t stop reminding him of some version of Dennis.
Iliza Shlesinger has delivered an equally good performance but that’s expected because a lesser known fact is that the plot is pulled from Shlesinger’s real life and perhaps that makes Good On Paper all the more interesting too. Some moments from her stand up scenes aren’t half as funny as they could be but that’s a fault in the plot or perhaps Marvellous Mrs. Maisel has set the bar too high for stand-up comedy.
Margaret Cho who is Adrea’s best friend in the movie, has also done a brilliant job and singlehandedly steals all her scenes as Margot.
If asked whether this is a stream or skip, I’d say stream it on a casual weeknight. While good on paper may not be weekend stream material or the best thing to come on Netflix this year, the plot is fun and interesting, particularly in the first half. The actors, too, have done a convincing job and for all of that, it deserves a watch. Also, great reminder that most men one finds interesting upon meeting are really just ‘good on paper’.