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Paper Man (7/10)

by Tony Medley

Run time 110 minutes

Not for children.

I’ve seen Emma Stone in some truly dreadful pictures, like “The House Bunny” (2008) and “Ghosts of Girlfriends Past” (2009). Bad as the pictures were, Stone gave wonderful performances and left me with a very good impression.

Here she finally gets a starring role and gives a tour de force. She is an exceptional actress. When I first saw “Hard Candy” (2005), I opined that Ellen Page was destined for stardom. I feel the same way about Stone. She’s not only a terrific actress, but she is beautiful to boot.

Here she’s Abby, a 17-year old who baby sits for psycho Richard Dunne (Jeff Daniels). They both have make believe friends, Captain Excellent (Ryan Reynolds) for Richard and Christopher (Kieran Culkin) for Abby. Abby has an abusive boy friend, Bryce (Hunter Parish), who does not bring out the best in her.

Richard’s wife, Claire (Lisa Kudrow), a doctor, comes across as a heavy by writer/directors Kieran and Michele Mulroney, and this is where the movie falls down. She is clearly there to be equated with Bryce to draw even closer parallels between Richard and Abby, but I thought Claire saintly. Claire puts up with Richard’s shenanigans and mental illness as best she can, but the Mulroneys never seem to give her any credit for living a pretty thankless life and devoting herself to him as much as she can.

This is a strange movie about defective people, but it is well done. While what carries the movie is Stone’s outstanding performance, Daniels and Kudrow aren’t chopped liver, either.

April 20, 2010