Paper Heart

Aug 19, 2009 at 12:00 am

Like a Trapper Keeper decked out in unicorn and Chuck Norris stickers, Paper Heart is both cutesy and ironically smug, a postcard from the land of twee, which is a pleasant place to visit but you sure don't want to stay there. 

Sort of a mock mockumentary, the film follows impossibly impish hipster comedian Charlyne Yi, as she crosses the country asking real folk about true love, an emotion she claims to be incapable of. Her more famous pals, including funnymen Demetri Martin and Seth Rogen, call bullshit on the notion she's a frosty, suggesting Yi hasn't met the right guy yet. Well, that dude — the twiggy Michael Cera — saunters right through the door of a party (filled with, apparently, the young Hollywood comedy underground). It's awkward puppy love at first blush.

This gawky romance stumbles like a fawn on its first steps, complicated by the "documentary" camera crew poking its lens into the new couple's noses at every turn. But the lovebirds, who've dated in real life, have a sweetly weird chemistry that which can't be faked, and Cera is genuinely charming — and a funny improviser. That easy authenticity is missing in the film's more scripted parts, like the super-meta inside scenes that see actor Jake Johnson, playing the actual director, pushing to finish the project by staging scenes for a supposed documentary. The mind reels.

This excess cleverness leaves the movie as fragile as spun sugar, and whether you find it delightful or irritating is a deeply personal matter, like the mystery of attraction.

Corey Hall writes about film for Metro Times. Send comments to [email protected].