Iliza Schlesinger's Rom-Com 'Good on Paper' Will Scare You Off Dating Entirely Directed by Kim Gatewood
Starring Iliza Schlesinger, Ryan Hansen, Margaret Cho, Rebecca Rittenhouse
Published Jun 24, 2021It's billed as a romcom, but comedian Iliza Schlesinger's Good on Paper, directed by Kim Gatewood, is more in the vein of an anti-romantic comedy. It's a film that makes you want to run far, far away from the dangers of modern dating, romance, and maybe other people altogether.
It's based on a partially true story plucked from Schlesinger's life, which makes it all the more shudder-inducing. Stand-up comedian and workaholic Andrea Singer (Schlesinger) meets Dennis Kelly (Ryan Hansen), a seemingly normal guy who she quickly befriends after they're seated next to each other on a plane. When Andrea reluctantly begins a relationship with Dennis, it's more out of convenience and a desire to settle than out of love or passion. And it seems like he's successful too — a hedge fund manager, whatever that is, sounds fancy, oooh!
But that's part of Dennis' trap, and his red flags come early and plenty: he never brings Andrea back to his house or introduces her to his mother (who is apparently dying of cancer), nor can he produce a diploma from his halcyon days at Yale. All is not as it seems — you know the drill. It's a decent if predictable study of the "male manipulator" archetype; a nice guy who just wants you to know how nice he is, à la Bo Burnham in Promising Young Woman.
Perhaps unusually, Good on Paper is strongest in the middle, with great supporting turns from Margaret Cho and Rebecca Rittenhouse as Andrea's best friend and best frenemy, respectively. Cho and Schlesinger are particularly good together; one scene that comes to mind is their trip to Dennis' purported real home, where they encounter two previously unheard-of roommates. The hijinks are top-notch and the comedy is clever — Schlesinger makes for a fun romantic lead.
But the film suffers in its pacing, trying to cram too much in an admirable but insufficient 92 minutes. A third act courtroom sequence is bizarre and takes you right out of the previously well-conceived, well-performed scenes. And the film's sadder notes don't quite hit as hard as they should, likely because they're expected from the start — we all know what it feels like to watch a friend make a big mistake — and have you dying to shake Andrea by the shoulders: didn't you see all the red flags?! (Netflix)