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Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The Problem with "Paperman"

Posted by on Wed, Jan 30, 2013 at 1:39 PM

So "Paperman," the animated short film that ran before Wreck-It Ralph, is available to watch online in its entirety. Here it is:

I have to say, I don't quite get the love people feel for this one. I mean, I get part of it: The design is absolutely beautiful, although the character design is nothing new. I just have serious issues with the story—it's supposed to be a little urban fairy tale, but the paper coming to life and forcing the two people together just feels like bad storytelling to me. Two people want something, and then the universe gives it to them? That's not much of a plot, even for a six-minute short film. Still, I bet it'll win the Oscar, because it's pretty much tailor-made for Hollywood to fall in love with it. Nobody ever won an Oscar pool by betting against sentimentality.


Comments (26) RSS

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psbirch 1
Littering and...littering and...littering and...
Posted by psbirch on January 30, 2013 at 1:58 PM · Report this
Julie in Eugene 2
I find it a little weird that there are no women in this world, except for the main female character. Every single one of the workers and bosses is a guy. Almost all of the people on the street and in the train cars are men too. Presumably it's supposed to take place some time ago? Still weird, though, especially since there's nothing in the first few minutes that identifies it as not taking place in the modern day.
Posted by Julie in Eugene on January 30, 2013 at 2:11 PM · Report this
Haters gonna hate. That's a sweet little short
Posted by deltron2 on January 30, 2013 at 2:14 PM · Report this
"forcing people together"

Did you actually watch the short? The two people fall in love at first sight, cliche yes but very common for shorts of this length. Yet they're separated by a mean boss, a busy street, train schedules, and a big wide open space. The paper airplanes are just bridging that gap. They're... cupid. The Fates. Whatever.
Posted by GermanSausage on January 30, 2013 at 2:15 PM · Report this
sprflycat 5
Sloggers gonna slog.
Posted by sprflycat on January 30, 2013 at 2:16 PM · Report this
MacCrocodile 6
Girls love a guy who'll quit his job just to follow her home.
Posted by MacCrocodile on January 30, 2013 at 2:21 PM · Report this
i'd have to agree paul. the animation and score are terrific but the story's really slight. the airplanes coming to life sorcerers apprentice style (sans bumbling of the apprentice, of course) is too much of a stretch. give me the opening sequence of up any day of the week.
Posted by captain underpants on January 30, 2013 at 2:24 PM · Report this
MacCrocodile 8
Oh, and as for the Oscar, I haven't seen the nominees yet, but there's one like this every year, and it doesn't usually win.
Posted by MacCrocodile on January 30, 2013 at 2:25 PM · Report this
What I loved about it were all the kids in the audience who sat quiet and in awe with a simple no dialogue cartoon. Chomet shouldn't be the only director out there that gets that children don't need animated cocaine poured into their brains every time they go to the the theater. (Didn't much like Wreck-It Ralph for that reason).
Posted by sisyphusgal on January 30, 2013 at 2:28 PM · Report this
You all are clearly not animation geeks, because I've been drooling over this short for months screaming, "GIVE IT ALL THE AWARDS!!!" Plot is incidental to me, I'm all about the art. :)
Posted by Emme on January 30, 2013 at 2:32 PM · Report this
MacCrocodile 11
Fresh Guacamole stands a better chance, frankly, and it's the only other one I've seen so far.
Posted by MacCrocodile on January 30, 2013 at 2:41 PM · Report this
The reason people are going crazy over this is the animation technique- they managed to make a 3D animated movie look completely hand drawn. That's kind of amazing in it's own right.
Posted by UNPAID COMMENTER on January 30, 2013 at 3:00 PM · Report this
Posted by UNPAID COMMENTER on January 30, 2013 at 3:04 PM · Report this
Zebes 14
It's really pretty. I adore the style and I'm totally gonna add it to my youtube favorites when I get home, woohoo!

What I didn't really like is a suggestion that the girl is just there to be scooped up into a relationship whenever the guy gets around to it. I realize a six minute, dialogue-free, kid-friendly animated short is the wrong place to try and make a nuanced argument about gender expectations, but it was still there in the back of my mind. (Of course the only reason a guy like me would think about such things is because I'm trying to get laid or something like that.)
Posted by Zebes on January 30, 2013 at 3:10 PM · Report this
Posted by beef rallard on January 30, 2013 at 3:10 PM · Report this
jezbian 16
@2 - you missed the brief appearance of the mom in the train pulling her kid with a balloon away from the strange man with all the paper planes attached to him. WAHOO FOR TWO SECONDS MORE of XX!

i saw more impressive animated shorts at couchfest a few months back.

also for the other shorts junkies out there the screenings of the oscar nominated shorts WILL be taking place this year - in the landmark theatres world the programs have been switched from the varsity to the harvard exit (only live action and animation being screened there) and it appears that SIFF will have ALL 3 programs (including documentary! HUZZAH!) at the uptown -- all in early feb:…

(is anyone else ASTOUNDED that CAMAS is getting screenings of the shorts??? CAMAS!!??!!??)
Posted by jezbian on January 30, 2013 at 3:22 PM · Report this
It's definitely broken into two parts, but I really enjoyed it. Love conquers all, etc.
Posted by NotYourStrawMan on January 30, 2013 at 3:31 PM · Report this
evilvolus 18
It was pretty, and it was cute, and somehow you're managing to out grumpypants even me, Paul. Are you trying to quit drinking coffee today, or something?
Posted by evilvolus on January 30, 2013 at 3:51 PM · Report this
don't be so sure, the lost thing beat out night and day in 2011 which was pixar. However Lost was a VASTLY superior short to night and day and probably the best short film of atleast the last 10 years.

Just last year The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore won out of La Luna which was also Pixar. Though books was probably about as sentimental as they come.

I'm sure I'm not the only one excited to see all the new shorts this Friday.
Posted by velour on January 30, 2013 at 3:56 PM · Report this
I personally love the fact that they used more-impossible-than-Barbie proportions on the three females in the film.
Posted by erasedk on January 30, 2013 at 5:23 PM · Report this
Knat 21
Unpaid Commenter @12 nails it. I've got plenty of experience with both 2d and 3d animation (though I'll admit I may well be behind modern techniques of the latter to fake the former), and I was blown away by how well they pulled it off.

Yeah, it's a sappy little story, but most of the Pixar shorts are. (A noteable recent exception being "Partysaurus Rex".) Either way, they're always eminently charming.
Posted by Knat on January 30, 2013 at 6:39 PM · Report this
I agree with Paul. But I like that public transportation is the key to romance.
Posted by chris in dk on January 30, 2013 at 8:56 PM · Report this
McJulie 23
I enjoyed it, but did find the gender roles disturbingly -- maybe deliberately -- old-fashioned. Even though the initial spark is shown to be mutual, the guy is the one whose story we follow -- he's the one who pines and has magical paper airplanes forcing him back to her.
Posted by McJulie on January 31, 2013 at 7:02 AM · Report this
piminnowcheez 24
Posted by piminnowcheez on January 31, 2013 at 8:33 AM · Report this
My boyfriend (who's in digital effects) and I both enjoyed this, but more for the animation -- the aforementioned beautiful texture and depth. I described the content as "Disney" -- really polished, really well-done, but not really telling anything new or specially interesting. It's Disney. They're the best at being them.

Basically, it felt like they wanted to show off this gorgeous art style, and picked a safe story -- boy meets girl -- to showcase it. It's good and ... FINE ... but considering how innovative and interesting the genre of animated short can be, it's not outstanding. Last year, I went to see all the Oscar-nominated shorts, and while Pixar's Luna was delightful, there were others that struck me more, and stayed with me a little more deeply. I think my favourite was the short about the young British man who immigrates to Canada and is totally out of his depth -- silly but also so sad.
Posted by Gloria on January 31, 2013 at 9:49 AM · Report this
MacCrocodile 26
@25 - Oh my god, yes. That short was beautiful.
Posted by MacCrocodile on February 1, 2013 at 5:26 PM · Report this

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