The new, subversive romantic-comedy, "Good on Paper" is a showcase for stand-up comedian Iliza Shlesinger. She stars as a version of herself and also wrote the screenplay, based on her real-life dating experiences.
There are some funny moments and truths realized in her story about how a relationship can go from seemingly perfect to downright scary, but as a whole it isn't executed well and much of her comedy seems, well, better on the page than it does in real-life situations.
Shlesinger plays Andrea Singer, a stand-up comic who one day meets Dennis (Ryan Hansen), a nerdy kind of guy but who has some real charm buried somewhere within. He's not her normal type, but he wins her over even while she notices more than a few red flags along the way. For one, his supermodel girlfriend seems to keep cancelling on him, and he drinks like a frat boy. Like in any relationship, as each person discovers more and more about the other, they either start honing in on the good if they're ultimately interested, or they focus in on the bad, if they're not. Andrea's best friend (Margaret Cho) is super-skeptical of this new dude, but is he really who he says he is or not?
There is something in Shlesinger's script that works, as she plays on the expectations the audience has in regards to other rom-coms. But first off, the dialogue and exchanges between characters is clunky and unnatural...much of it sounds like stand-up jokes being read from a journal.
There is little chemistry also, and the first-time feature-film director Kimmy Gatewood isn't able to properly balance the tone or the pacing of the comedy. Shlesinger's on-screen performance comes across as a bit too self-aware and anxious, and Hansen's a bit too over the top and buffoonish. There's very little to care about, and if you are new to Shlesinger's comedy, I'd say she's much better doing stand-up than what is portrayed in this film. As the film clods along into the final act, it's equal parts absurd and undeserving, falling short of being effective in the themes it's dealing with.
"Good On Paper" isn't very good on screen, and Shlesinger deserves better treatment, not just from Dennis but from those who shaped the final version of this, her first spotlight film.
Genre: Comedy, Romance.
Run Time: 1 hour 32 minutes.
Starring: Iliza Shlesinger, Ryan Hansen, Margaret Cho, Rebecca Rittenhouse.
Written by Iliza Shlesinger.
Directed by Kimmy Gatewood (feature-film debut).
"Good on Paper" is available on Netflix on Wednesday, June 23rd, 2021.
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