The new romantic comedy, “Good on Paper,” was recently released to Netflix. It is written and directed by popular comedian, Iliza Shlesinger, who also stars as the main character, Andrea. The film follows Andrea along on a rollercoaster of a relationship with Dennis (Ryan Hansen), a pathological liar and alcoholic. Shlesinger wrote the film with consistent similarities from her own relationship with her ex-boyfriend. She uses comedy to address the negative impact the relationship had on her and it carries well in the film with her background as a comedian.
Andrea doesn’t have time to date and isn’t really looking for a relationship, especially after landing a role in a show after nine years of failed auditions. Dennis, a close friend that she met on a plane ride to L.A., begins to pressure Andrea into a relationship claiming they are compatible. After some time, Andrea decides to finally give him a chance after a drunken night of hooking up. All is well until Dennis’ stories start to get mixed up. Andrea’s friend Margot (Margaret Cho) is persistent in trying to get Andrea to check on some of the things she believes Dennis lies about, which turns into an adventure of finding the truth.
Right off the bat, we get a creepy vibe from Dennis; he is pushy and stalkerish. Andrea ignores these red flags because he is always there for her and becomes a big help with her career. It is apparent early on that Dennis is a pathological liar and the film doesn’t give viewers much suspense as it’s made quite obvious. I will give some slack here as Schlesinger has mentioned in interviews that the lies Dennis tells in the film are actual lies her ex-boyfriend had told her. The lies vary from small to large such as having a bad back to his mother having cancer. The lies are more dramatized than realistic, especially because Dennis seems to always have an excuse for why he can’t prove certain aspects of his life are true. We’ve seen this character done time and time again; it would be appreciated if Dennis’s character offered more suspense, such as at least one of the lies turning out to be partially true to keep viewers hooked wondering what’s real and what’s not.
The film briefly touches on an important topic; female comedians receiving criticism for their career. One night after Andrea finishes up her set and is on her way to dinner, a drunken man begins to pick a fight with her by saying she’s not funny and claiming she thinks she’s funny because she’s a woman. It’s clear the drunken man is just a sexist woman hater, but it raises awareness to an overlooked topic. Andrea brushes it off by stating it happens at least once after every show which is a harsh reality of female comedians. Society teaches us that women can’t or shouldn’t be funny, so in turn, female comedians are definitely looked at in a harsher light and criticized for their skits more often than male comedians are.
While the film is entertaining, audiences might suggest that “Good on Paper” is incomplete. Though it was humorous, it wasn’t enough to make you burst out in laughter. Dennis’s character feels cliche, despite portraying a real person. Lastly, the climax occurs late in the film leaving it to feel rushed. I commend Schlesinger for presenting us with her personal trauma in this film but overall, the film seems to be lacking.
“Good on Paper” is available to stream on Netflix.
By Mia Godorov