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DVD Review: Paper Heart

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Paper Heart, directed by Nick Jasenovec, tackles the age old question of whether true love exists. However, the direction the movie takes in addressing this question is wholly original.

Charlyne Yi stars as herself, and she does not believe in love. A musician and comedian living in Los Angeles, Yi has never experienced love and believes that she never will. Jake Johnson plays Nicolas Jasenovec, close friend of Yi’s and aspiring filmmaker. Jasenovec decides to make a documentary following Yi around the country to discover if true love exists.

During their travels, the documentarians interview some very interesting characters. Romance novelists, bikers, scientists, children, and complete strangers are all questioned, often with humorous results. One of the most entertaining segments that is painfully too brief features Yi interviewing some of her comedian friends about love. Seth Rogen, Demetri Martin, and several other surprises turn up as themselves. Thankfully, there is a special feature called “Love Interviews with The Comedians” that features extended interviews with eight comedians.

Early in their voyage, Yi meets Michael Cera at a party. Over time their relationship develops and they become involved romantically. This is where the line between fact and fiction blur a bit for the movie. Yi has stated that she never dated Cera and they were just friends, but during this movie’s theatrical run I remember reading about this documentary that detailed the real-life couple’s blossoming romance. In any event, fans of Cera will enjoy watching him with his traditional unique brand of humor and delivery as he and Yi get to know one another. As filming the documentary gets in the way, Yi realizes she doesn’t want to lose someone she truly cares about.

Paper Heart is entertaining, but it may not be for everyone. People expecting an outrageous, nonstop laughs romantic comedy will go away disappointed. This movie is dialogue-driven, and toward the end it starts to drag a bit. Having said that, its approach is certainly unique and the interviews are charming and earnest.

The special features are plentiful with this release as well. Two featurettes are included. One is called “Paper Heart UNCUT” and is a gag reel of sorts, showcasing Yi’s many verbal gaffes during filming. This might strike viewers as hilarious, or maybe just annoying. Thankfully, there are some other gags in “Paper Heart UNCUT” that are really funny. “The Making Of Paper Heart” is a ten-minute look at the background of the project and offers some good insight. Live musical performances by Charlyne Yi are included. Her singing voice is very different, but it’s worth watching to see if you enjoy it or not. Michael Cera and Charlyne Yi have a music video for the song “Heaven” that is really fun. The two sit in a bedroom and casually play a catchy song, and later a montage of them hanging out is shown. Seventeen deleted scenes are included, and they range in quality from very funny to good riddance.

The filmmakers of Paper Heart coined the term “hybrid documentary” to describe this movie, and this is a rather appropriate description. Fusing a scripted plot with documentary-style interviews, Paper Heart is certainly an original work.

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