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Your February Unrandom Movie Club Results Are In!

Tagline: A story about love that's taking on a life of its own.

Pizza: Valley Pizzaland

Preshow Entertainment: JANEANE GARAFOLO: IF YOU WILL


What an oddball and totally likable little movie. So many stories are about people trying to find the true meaning of love, but PAPER HEART (2009) does it with a punchy ambition and with a pseudo-mockumentary style. Like CURB YOUR ENTHUSIASM meets Albert Brooks' REAL LIFE, PAPER HEART is a mix of reality and scripted; it's a dishonest honest movie.

Jake M. Johnson and Charlyne Yi
Co-writer Charlyne Yi plays herself (maybe), a girl who claims to have never been in love to the point where she questions its very existence. So along with her friend Nick (Jake M. Johnson, playing PAPER HEART's real director and co-writer, Nicholas Jasenovec), she sets out, mic in hand, to interview people. She's a counter-intuitive choice to be interviewing people because she seems afraid of what they might say. Or better, what she may learn. She holds her mic out as if she's feeding an alligator.

But two funny things happen along the way. One is she finds love (no matter how hard she kicks and screams), and the other? She exposes her lack of understanding of love, and it's these moments of nakedness that make you root for Charlyne. How can someone be so clueless? So inexperienced? So...tragic? Especially because she's the most adorable roving reporter in history.

The movie opens with its best footage; Charlyne, mic in hand, asking passersby about love. It's not so much their answers but her caught off-guard reactions. She's shouting "Has anyone been in love?" on the Vegas strip, with the Excalibur looming behind her as if she's a Disney character waiting for her turn to become a princess. And although it's a visually and aurally cute moment, we realize she's all alone in a sea of people who don't have time to talk to her, perhaps because they already know about love, or that they're all shitfaced and in Vegas. Either way, the table is set; Charlyne is helpless and alone. But fear not Charlyne, for someday your prince will come.

Store by Random Movie Club
The road ahead will be bumpy for Charlyne, as her friends tell us that she's stubborn and probably won't find love. Even Charlyne herself admits that she's only had one boyfriend, and when someone mentions spooning in conversation, she says, "What's that?" Then, at a party, she meets actor-slash-hoodie model Michael Cera (Michael Cera). He's interested in her, and she's in denial about it. But yep, love gradually creeps into Charlyne's pores. This is where the movie really bends reality and fiction. Obviously, this is a scripted story point, but just how much more of PAPER HEART is...and isn't? Digging deeper, were Charlyne and Michael really dating during the filming as word of mouth would like us to believe?

When they hit Little Rock, they find a fireworks store, and Nick and Charlyne suddenly become 12 years old. That's when it hit me; Charlyne is going through life (in the movie) as a 12 year old, trying to understand the one thing that cannot be understood at that age. She has to experience it to understand it. The fireworks in Arkansas are just for amusement, she needs the real ones.

Charlyne interviews Elvis
Not all her interviewees are people she runs into. Some are planned. There are professors (who explain the biological and chemical processes of love), bikers, Elvis (in the Graceland Wedding Chapel), divorced people, couples who have been in love for 50 years, engaged high school seniors and celeb friends like Seth Rogen ("Your love glass is half full."). Most of the real people are indeed real, telling stories about their love as Charlyne tries to process it. She is often perplexed by it all, as when she remarks to country music couple Bill Warner and Kirsti Manna, "I think everyone's definition of love is so different."

Paper Dolls
While some tell their stories, we cut away to various puppets and paper cut-outs (surely they have paper hearts) that reenact the tales. You can't get any indie-er than that. Still, it's a fun and chirpy device, used best in the one scenario that is obviously fiction.

Through the course of her travels, Charlyne, or Chuck as Nick calls her, hears a lot about love. But no one schools her more than the kids in a playground in Atlanta, where she fits right in. The girls seem to all be in love with Chris Brown. Later, when the pack discovers Charlyne has a boyfriend, a girl accuses her of being in love. Charlyne denies denies denies it with a laugh and an "I am not in love!" Then she accuses the kid with, "You're in love...with Chris Brown." And after a beat, that little girl tells her, "At least I admitted it."



Let's make no bones about it, Charlyne Yi carries this movie. It's really more about her reactions than anything. She's awkward and miffed by it all, and she shows it. She's an intensely lovable goofball who laughs like a real person laughs and at the right times. That's why this seems so real...even if it's not. Like David Byrne wearing the big suit, Charlyne is in on the creative joke, she's just not breaking character. You have to go to the DVD extras to see that.

Bridal Shop

Charlyne tells us early on the only thing she knows about true love is from movies. Well guess what, Chuck? You're in a movie.


Janeane Garafalo - If You Will
I remember Garafolo doing stand-up in the early 90s, then being in the cast of four on THE BEN STILLER SHOW and as Paula on THE LARRY SANDERS SHOW. Man, I just really liked her. It was easy to ignore her movies. Though they were plentiful, they were, for the most part, awful. Can you name five of them? You can't? That's pretty bad, especially since she made 35 movies by 2001. Comic Jeffrey Ross once told her, "Let me give you some career advice. You're allowed to turn things down."

But sadly, her latest stand-up show was pretty dull. Her personality has changed throughout the years. She's no longer the hip outsider who made observations like, when stuck at a red light behind a truck with gardeners in the back, there's only so long I can pretend to be adjusting my radio. Now it's about the TSA.

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