Paper Heart, Michael Cera, Charlyne Yi

Justina Mintz/Paper Heart Productions, LLC.

Review in a Hurry: L.A. comedienne Charlyne Yi embarks on a cross-country quest for advice and insight about love, and in the process finds romance with real-life (now real ex) boyfriend Michael Cera. This mashup of documentary and fiction lives up to its title—sweet, romantic and paper-thin. 

The Bigger Picture: You've probably heard the devastating news: Yi and Cera broke up! But that shouldn't impede your enjoyment of Paper Heart, wherein Yi skeptically muses—or cineblogs—about love for 90 minutes. But for all the postmodern meta-ness of her pseudo mockumentary approach, she's still created a standard greeting-card movie: the jokes and sentiments make you smile…right before you toss it aside.

Yi hits the road with her film crew and director (Jake Johnson, playing the onscreen version of actual director Nicholas Jasenovec—oh, never mind...) and interviews folks across America about the nature of "true love." She randomly questions bikers at a bar, kids on a playground, a Vegas wedding-chapel preacher, a wannabe country singer, etc. Apparently, no serious artists or great thinkers were available.

In an interwoven storyline, Yi bumps into actor Cera, playing himself, at a Hollywood party, and he's immediately attracted. Despite her initial disinterest, the two start hanging out and become close. Cera once again trades on his low-key, awkward-geek charm. You get why Yi warms up to him, regardless of his stalkerish tactics, and he provides welcome balance to her more manic, giggly persona. But their obligatory second-act conflict, involving a trip to Paris, is as manufactured as a reality-TV plot turn.

Surprisingly, this oddball rom-com hybrid steers clear of self-indulgence and ironic hipster-ism, with its most affecting moments in the real stories of long-coupled lovers—reminiscent of the vignettes in When Harry Met Sally. Yi wisely lets these testimonials play out and even dramatizes portions with homemade puppets and dioramas. It's low-rent but creative. Like much of Paper Heart.

The 180—a Second Opinion: Paging What Not to Wear… Why does Yi hide behind oversized hoodies, thick glasses, and unkempt hair? Maybe while she's looking for love, she could also seek out a stylist.


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