Good on Paper | Third Space

Good on Paper

Mon 28 Jun 2021
Not really romantic or funny

2 out of 5 stars

Based on many of the interviews with comedian Iliza Shlesinger, she states that people make assumptions about her that do not reflect her real life. Where is the line between reality and the jokes that she delivers during her stand-up routine? This may cause some fans to wonder why she decided to write a screenplay based on a true dating story that occurred to her. A writing exercise that she describes as catharsis that became the basis for her latest film project. She shares her relational experiences with a person she described as a friend and lover until she realised that everything was all based on a lie.

Shlesinger does not have to reach too far to play nationally-known comedian, Andrea Singer. A comic who wants to make it in acting, but is hoping for quiet and solace on her flight home after a failed audition. Until hedge fund manager, Dennis Kelly (Ryan Hansen), sits next to her and manages to connect on many levels. After he attends one of her stand-up shows, their relationship develops into a friendship that eventually grows into something more significant as they get to know one another. Yet, this is when things begin to take an unexpected turn.

Each day they evolve from friendship to romance, Andrea starts to ask Dennis more details about his past. It is within these answers that she discovers that very little about his life is based on truth. As she uncovers the facts about one innocent lie, the comic begins to look into the rest of her boyfriend's extraordinary backstory. From attending Yale to buying a house in Beverly Hills, each leads to a series of tales that provide material for her stand-up routine. Still, it makes her begin to question the validity of the love that they have for one another. With the help of her friend Margot (Margaret Cho), the pair begin to make the discoveries that prove why this story was eventually made into a screenplay.

In romantic comedies that veer towards the dark side of life, it can be hard to balance the humour with the darker elements. First-time director Kimmy Gatewood struggles to find the humorous tone needed to counter the eventual wave of lies that come from Dennis. Some of the failings of this film can be credited to the lack of chemistry between the lead actors. Yet, the most noticeable aspect was the ill-fitting suit of Hansen’s character that made it evident that he was not who he said he was initially. His wardrobe, attitude and lack of any sophistication should have been a cause for concern from the opening sequence.

Even though the narrative does reach for a Seinfeld vibe by connecting each scene with stand-up segments from Shlesinger, each of these routines did not support the need for a comedic tone. Instead they made her character less than appealing and few were even funny. With little comedy and minimal convincing romance, there is little to make it fit within this genre. Despite being a minimised genre, the rom-com does need some forethought and nuance for it to work, where the writing manages to find that sweet spot amongst the romance, comedy and drama. Good on Paper is a title that befits the storyline and the overall film, as it is a good concept, but it fails to deliver in the end.

REEL DIALOGUE: Is everyone lying or is everyone’s truth their own?

Iliza Shlesinger says that she is trying to share an experience that is common in so many relationships. People wanting to impress those they are trying to connect with manage to embellish their past. The problem is that when a relationship is based on false information, it is hard to know what or who you can trust.

How do people find truth in this post-truth world? Besides relying on mere intuition and personal conjecture, the search for the answer to this question has to be outside of the human experience. Some may look for answers in science, philosophy and religion, but how can people know where to find the answers to the ethical and moral queries?

Through this journey of enquiry, the Bible is an excellent source to consider. The wisdom found in the words of this book does not give specific answers to every situation that comes along. Still, it offers the framework to know how to make the right decision. It even provides solutions to life’s more prominent considerations. In this investigation, the best places to start are in some of the books of wisdom in the Old Testament (Psalms and Proverbs) or the book of Romans in the New Testament.

Keep seeking the truth

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