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Paper Heart

MPAA Rating: PG-13-Rating (MPAA) for some language.

Reviewed by: Spencer Schumacher

Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Teens, Adults
1 hr. 28 min.
Year of Release:
USA Release:
August 7, 2009 (38 theaters)
August 14, 2009 (slightly wider)
August 21, 2009 (wide)
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Relevant Issues
Copyright, Anchor Bay Entertainment


What is true love and how do you know when you have found it? Answer

Marriage in the Bible

Is formalized marriage becoming obsolete? Answer
Many people are convinced that traditional marriages don’t work and that this practice should be abandoned. What does the Bible say about marriage?

Sex, Love & Relationships
Learn how to make your love the best it can be. Discover biblical answers to questions about sex, marriage, sexual addictions, and more.

GAY—What’s wrong with being gay? Answer
Homosexual behavior versus the Bible: Are people born gay? Does homosexuality harm anyone? Is it anyone’s business? Are homosexual and heterosexual relationships equally valid?

What about gays needs to change? Answer
It may not be what you think.

Featuring: Charlyne Yi, Michael Cera, Seth Rogen, Jake M. Johnson, Demetri Martin, Sarah Baker, Matthew Bass, Matthew Craig, Don Emerson, Sally Emerson, Gabrielle Felder, Sidney Hardy, Kirsti Manna, Brendan Paul, Paul Rust, Faith Shannon, Martin Starr, Bob Sullivan, Lois Sullivan, Gill Summers, Bill Warner, Derek Waters, Morgan Williams, Lydia Yi
Director: Nicholas Jasenovec
Producer: Anchor Bay Entertainment, Paper Heart Productions, Nicholas Jasenovec, Sandra Murillo, Elise Salomon, Charlyne Yi
Distributor: Anchor Bay Entertainment

“A story about love that’s taking on a life of its own.”

Questions about the meaning and nature of love are not unique to cinema and have been pondered by philosophers as well as artists for centuries. However, in the film “Paper Heart” this question is studied in a manner that is nothing if not imaginative.

The film surrounds the search of real life comedian (her act is said to be anything but conventional) Charlyne Yi to find out what love is, since she proclaims that she doesn’t believe in it. A noble quest if there ever was one.

On this search, she interviews whoever is willing to talk to her regarding this equivocal topic and get their take on love. She speaks to individuals and couples from every conceivable definition of what a loving relationship can entail. These interviews include a couple in a long-term marriage, a divorcee, and the owner of the Chapel of Love in Las Vegas where couples can choose between a drive-thru wedding or reciting their vows before an Elvis impersonator. Given the wide range of perspectives that Yi gathers, one can see that the definitions of love proposed by the film are going to be painted with the broadest brush possible, which includes the perspective given by two gay men.

Filmgoers that need a solid, tight-laced plot to hold on to in order to enjoy their movie going will have trouble with this experience, for there is hardly one here. The film is structured as a documentary and jumps between conventional talking-head interviews and paper mache animated reenactments (as mentioned, this film is highly imaginative, and this element was one of its stronger features). It also contains fictional elements, and the film often ventures somewhere between these two realms. There are cameos (very brief) by Jonah Hill and Seth Rogen (both appear in “Funny People”) as well as Demetri Martin (“Taking Woodstock”) who appear as Charlene’s real life friends and add their two cents on the topic. It’s when Michael Cera (“Juno,” “Year One”) comes in as Charlene’s love interest that the film straddles the line between fact and fiction.

Objectionable Material

There is a fair amount of profanity by some of the people she interviews (particularly a group of bikers who espouse their views of love with profanity-laced metaphors) and some frank talk about sex and sexual relations. The most objectionable trait that certain viewers, particularly Christian viewers, may regard as offensive is the handling of the subject that the film grapples with: love. Not so much the topic itself, but the various ways the idea of love is grappled with and categorized. Though time is allotted for a traditional definition of love and marriage, the wide spectrum of “types” of love may be offsetting to those who gain their definition of love from John 3:16, 1 Corinthians 13:4-7, and Colossians 3:12-19.

In regards to the overall appeal of the film to a general audience, this is a film that models itself as a documentary, but really is only a documentary in structure. It has very little resembling a strong, tangible plot. This film would probably best suit the tastes of those who enjoy experimental, independent cinema—most notably the films of Michael Gondry (“Be Kind Rewind,” “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind”) or Spike Jonze (“Being John Malkovich,” “Where the Wild Things Are”). If you are not a fan of “out of the box” cinema, than “Paper Heart” is not likely to warm yours.

Violence: Minor / Profanity: Moderate / Sex/Nudity: Minor

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.

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