Netflix film “Good on Paper”, which was released on last Wednesday, is a mildly funny comedy film which could go further with its heroine. She is definitely not someone you can easily like, but it is often amusing to see how she lets herself become blind to what is so obvious in front of her eyes, and it is a bit shame that the movie falters more than once when she finally decides to confront her impending issue with vengeance.
Iliza Shlesinger, who writes the screenplay in addition to participating in the production of the film as one of its executive producers, plays Andrea Singer, a 34-year-old female stand-up comedian who has worked mainly in LA. Although her career has been fairly successful on the whole, Andrea has been not that satisfied with her current status while hoping for bigger successes to come, and she is certainly disappointed when her audition for some movie in New York City does not go well for her.
When she is about to get on an airplane to take her back to LA, Andrea happens to encounter a plain-looking guy named Dennis Kelly (Ryan Hansen), and, what do you know, he later sits right next her seat on the airplane. He introduces himself as a Yale graduate who is now working as a successful hedge fund manager, and, as she talks more and more with him during the flight to LA, Andrea finds herself quite attracted to this total stranger.
Anyway, Andrea decides to befriend him more, and Dennis is willing to be a friend to spend time with, though they are not exactly in relationship for now. She keeps dating some other more good-looking guys for fun and, yes, sex, but she comes to like him more as spending more time with him, and she does not hesitate to give him some emotional support when he looks devastated due to a sad family incident.
When Dennis naturally becomes more serious about their relationship, Andrea is certainly willing to move their relationship to the next stage, and everything looks a bit more positive to her than before. With his considerable help and support, she focuses more on audition preparation, and she is excited when she unexpectedly succeeds in getting a big role in some silly but promising TV series to be produced sooner or later.
However, after a certain point, Andrea belatedly comes to realize that she actually does not know anything certain about her boyfriend. He is so plain and inconsequential that she has just accepted what he seems to be on the surface, but then she begins to notice a series of suspicious signs she cannot easily ignore. For instance, he said he bought a house located somewhere in Beverly Hills, but he has never taken her to his house, and she comes to wonder more about where he actually lives.
Her best friend Margot (Margaret Cho) suggests that she should delve further into this increasingly dubious matter, but Andrea keeps hesitating over what to do next, especially when Dennis gives her a plausible reason for why he has not taken to his house yet. Because she still has feelings for Dennis, Andrea tries to accept Dennis’s words, but she keeps noticing something fishy from her boyfriend – especially when they happen to spend a few days with two people who did graduate from Yale.
Because it is a comedy film instead of a thriller flick, the movie certainly goes for laugh instead of suspense, and we are accordingly served with several uproarious moments as Andrea eventually attempts to get to the bottom of her matter along with Margot, who becomes quite zealous about this as suspecting Dennis more and more. At one point, she and Andrea come to receive some help from the last person they want to get involved with, and the mood becomes quite hysterical as these three figures of strong personality clash with each other for a while.
During its eventual third act, the story becomes a bit tense as our heroine and her best friend plan to do something rather drastic for taking care of her matter once for all, and that is the point where the movie comes to lose some of its comic momentum. While it surely tries a lot of things to generate more laughs for us, it unfortunately ends up spinning its wheels instead, and the following finale feels artificial despite the feel-good last shot accompanied with a barbed act of female empowerment.
At least, the main cast members of the film are well-cast in their respective parts, and the movie shines whenever they go for the jugular. As the center of the film, Shlesinger is funny and engaging enough to hold our attention, and we come to root for Andrea more as often tickled by her comic emotional struggles along the story. Although she is on the verge of overacting more than once, Margaret Cho is effective as a comic foil for Shlesinger, and Rebecca Rittenhouse is also amusing as a cheery actress Andrea has disliked for many years just because she is much more popular than Andrea. In case of Ryan Hansen, he deftly balances his character between banality and creepiness, and I was disappointed to see the movie letting his character off the hook too easily.
In conclusion, “Good on Paper”, which is directed by Kimmy Gatewood, works to some degree thanks to several sharp comic moments generated among its principle cast members, and I did chuckle more than once, but I still think it could be funnier via pushing its story premise harder. At least, I am glad to be introduced to Shlesinger, and I sincerely hope that this good comedian will soon move onto something funnier in the future.