I didn’t know who Iliza Shlesinger is going into the recently released Netflix movie Good on Paper, but she doesn’t have talent and charisma. I just wish she had been in a better movie.
Much to my surprise, she was also in Spenser Confidential, a movie I watched but only remembered enough to recall it in a previous post.
A title card emphasizes that the movie is mostly based on a true story and I don’t doubt that Shlesinger was involved with some creep who lied, cheated and used her. It seems a lot of men have done that and I’ve known women in my family, workplace, and education who were victims of it.
Now, it’s called Catfishing even though in the movie, there is a reference that means maybe it should be called Cuttlefishing. But people have been lying to others for centuries.
Shlesinger is a beautiful woman and is funny at times, but for a story like this, it seems to have worked better as a one-woman show. At an hour and a half, the movie lags at times.
Part of the problem is we know from the start that we know the man who calls himself Dennis (Ryan Hansen) is full of shit. And Hansen with his glasses, goofy grin and a part in his hair and a comb over that looks like it always needs to be brushed a little more never comes off more than just a wimpy toad. There’s even a scene in which a body double is used to show that Dennis is not in the best shape.
This isn’t Dirty John. There’s no hint that Dennis would get physical and even if he did, a good kick to the groin would settle him.
After a failed casting audition with a reaction that should become an Internet meme, comic and aspiring actress Andrea Singer (Shlesinger) meets Dennis at first in an airport terminal as he picks up a boarding pass she dropped and then is sat next to her on the plane.
They become friends but he wants more. And then he works his way into leaving the Friendzone. Andrea’s friend Margo (Margaret Cho) suspects something is not right and even after they go to where he lives and meet two roommates they didn’t know he had, Andrea stays with Dennis.
It’s at this part where the movie becomes weak. Neither Shlesinger nor Hansen really deliver these scenes well. This is supposed to be a comedy so there never really is a scene in which you feel Andrea may be in threat of her life. All Dennis comes off as is a loser.
There’s also a subplot in which Andrea seems to constantly be running into a more famous and accomplished actress, Serena Halstead, played by Rebecca Rittenhouse, that never really pays off. Andrea is jealous of her fame but the two eventually come to support each other more for the plot of the movie.
I’ve heard Shlesinger say this movie and writing it was a cathartic process. And intercut with the plot are scenes of Andrea standing before an audience at a stand-up club. This is why I think it might have worked better as a one-woman show.
Part of the problem is we never really do understand why Andrea would be so easily duped. Dennis plays on her sympathies but it never seems to work, at least on me.
I’m just wondering if there was some legal reasons for certain things being left out.
Regardless of Schlesinger’s talent, I can’t recommend this movie, but think others who have been catfished or cuttlefished may understand why Andrea was able to be strung along so much. She tells the audience it was a situation in which she wanted to be wrong about his lying but Andrea always seems cautious of Dennis so that doesn’t make sense.
Good on Paper may have seemed like an interesting script, but it’s not always what’s on paper that makes it into movies.