Good on paper and “meh” in execution.
It’s no secret that I have reviewed my fair share of horrendous Netflix original movies on this blog. But can I let you guys in on a little secret? Part of me actually enjoys reviewing the truly terrible Netflix movies. At least when a movie is truly terrible, it’s so bad that I end up having a great time laughing at the pure awfulness of a badly-made movie. Honestly, I have a much worse time reviewing movies that have the potential to be great and may even start out that way, but end up taking a nosedive and being a massive disappointment. Movies like the new Netflix comedy, Good on Paper (2021).
Inspired by true events, Good on Paper tells the story of Andrea, a stand-up comedian and struggling actress who meets handsome stranger Dennis on a plane. Though Dennis seems to be a perfectly suitable boyfriend, Andrea soon become suspicious of him when facts about his life turn out to be untrue.
Never has a movie been more aptly named than Good on Paper. I have no doubt in my mind that the comedy, written by and starring Iliza Schlesinger, sounded like a winning idea during the pitch meeting, but I’m disappointed to say that the final product isn’t as appealing. Granted, the movie is far from a disaster and even starts off on a promising note, but after the 20 minute mark this movie goes from perfectly watchable to a straight up snoozefest. Even at 45 minutes in, any semblance of a real plot is completely indiscernible. Again, Good on Paper isn’t a terrible movie. It just spins its wheels for so long and repeats the same unfunny scenes over and over again that you’d be hard pressed finding a reason why actually following through and finishing the movie is worth your time. Again, it’s not a disaster nor is it unwatchable, there’s just nothing going on so why waste your time?
The razor-thin plot feels less like the premise for a movie, and more like the B story for an episode of an early 2000s sitcom. Actually, with just a slight bit of editing, you wouldn’t be wrong for thinking that Good on Paper is really a cheesy Lifetime movie. You know, the ones where the woman meets a guy and slowly begins to realize that he’s not what he seems and then it turns out he’s been trying to kill her?! Well, minus the murder, that’s essentially what Good on Paper is. I mean, seriously girl. You’re in a relationship with this man and you’ve never been to his house, or job, or met any of his friends? And the “facts” about his life are clearly proving themselves to be lies right before your eyes? I felt like screaming at the TV, “good God girl, get out of there!”
Even the comedy didn’t quite sit right with me. It all felt kind of stale and dated. Good on Paper feels like it should have come out in 2008, and it would’ve been heralded as great, progressive, and hilarious, for 2008. But in 2021 it’s more or less a flatline. Not terrible, just not very relatable or funny for a 2021 audience. Honestly, Trainwreck (2015) is the much better version of this movie.
Shlesinger is a talented comedian and her performance as Andrea is undoubtedly one of the best parts of this movie. I like that the movie is intercut with bits of her stand-up. That inspired me to actually check out her work as a stand-up comedian. One of the other best parts of Good on Paper? Definitely Rebecca Rittenhouse as Andrea’s rival, Serrena. Rittenhouse is the shining light of this movie. Each time she entered a scene, the entire tone of the movie switched from being a bland bummer to being the zany comedy I had hoped it would be. The biggest mistake this movie makes is not putting more of Rittenhouse in it.
Absent of an interesting plot and featuring a host of disappointing performances from actors who have proven themselves to be much better in the past, you’re more than welcome to give Good on Paper a pass. Trust me. That’s an idea that’s good in reality.
Have you seen Good on Paper? What did you think?
Let me know in the comments or on social media!