Unlikely Hero (2009)

AKA: Paper Man
Rating: 15
Length: 1h 50
Release: 14.4.2014 (UK DVD)
Dir: Kieran & Michele Mulroney
About: A frustrated novelist (Jeff Daniels) begins to depend less on his imaginary friend (Ryan Reynolds) when he forms a unique bond with a Long Island teenager (Emma Stone).

The Good

  • Ryan Reynolds is just incredible as this larger than life, colourful superhero imaginary friend. This sort of crazy is where he shines. His character is just delightfully absurd and is the saving grace of the movie. He works so well alongside Jeff Daniels. I really wanted more. In fact, it could have just been the two of them for the entire time, and i still would have wanted more.
  • There’s a scene in a bar in which Richard is befriending the locals. The way in which he has them all hanging on to every word is something I would have loved to have seen more of.
  • Emma Stone’s character is just as complex as Richard’s. Everything about her individually I love; her background, her anger, her outlook. The only thing I don’t like is her relationship and interaction with Richard. It being the basis of the movie, therefore, becomes a problem.

The Bad

  • Some of the film’s choices are massively problematic and, on the whole, the film leaves too much unresolved. What happens to Abby’s friend as a result of the film is quite horrific and the relationship between Richard and his wife is so toxic, but its played out in such a bias way that I don’t know how any viewer can be satisfied.

The Ugly

  • There’s an uncomfortable line that this film dances with, and it stops it being the uplifting film I certainly wanted it to be. The issue is the establishment of what the relationship between Daniel’s Richard and Stone’s Abby. It takes way too long to suggest that what both are missing the father/daughter bond. By the time its suggested (not established) the creepy/ grooming seeds have been sown. It’s further compacted by the final act; the post party snuggle and her kissing him on the mouth during their farewell. It completely ruins the entire tone of the movie and for at least the first half, I had my finger on the remote ready to turn it off.

Final Thoughts

There’s a charming indie film hidden under a gloss of grooming and misery. It stops you engaging with the more important, meaningful, aspects.

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