Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Movie Review: "Paddleton" (2019)

Director: Alex Lehmann
Year: 2019
Rating: TV-MA
Running Time: 1 hour, 29 minutes

After being diagnosed with terminal cancer, a man and his best friend go on a trip to pick up the medication that will help him end his life with dignity. 

Paddleton 2019 Netflix movie still Ray Romano Mark Duplass
"If you saw a guy hover, it'd probably screw up your whole life." (Image Source)
"Paddleton" (2019) producer Mark Duplass has found his niche in making and starring in low budget movies that focus on two characters whose interactions consist of mostly improvised dialogue. Movies he has starred in that fit this formula are "Creep," "Creep 2," "Blue Jay," and of course, this movie. This feature is directed by Alex Lehmann, who worked with Duplass on the previously mentioned "Blue Jay." It tells the story of a man named Michael, who spends most his free time playing a paddleball off-shoot game called Paddleton and watching Kung-fu movies with his best friend/upstairs neighbor Andy (Ray Romano). Michael has just received some devastating news that he has inoperable stomach cancer. Not wanting to waste away in a hospital in pain, Michael decides he will euthanize himself when he can no longer live his life the way he wants. He and Andy head on a road trip to the nearest pharmacy that will fill his prescription for the drugs that will help him end his life on his own terms and with dignity.
Paddleton 2019 Netflix movie still Ray Romano Mark Duplass
"There's nothing they can do, so it's that." (Image Source)
At some point in our lives, we will all face a serious illness leading to the death of a loved one. Whether that person is an immediate family member or a close friend, it is one of the most difficult things to go through, and not just because of the death itself. Watching a loved one slowly fade away is a painful experience we don't wish on our worst enemies. "Paddleton" (2019) does an unusually excellent job exploring how we face death and the turmoil we experience whether to fight it or accept it. Needless to say, it is a depressing overall theme that can be exceedingly difficult to watch if you do so unprepared or if you've had a similar experience to the one being depicted. This topic is a sensitive one, but writers Alex Lehmann and Mark Duplass handle the situation with care and respect. It is also delicately handled by stars Duplass and Ray Romano, who have exceptional chemistry with one another. We believe them as longtime friends who seem to be the perfect oddball fit for each other. We watch these two men struggle to accept the inevitable that's coming, especially Andy, who has seemingly devoted a large portion of his life to being Michael's best friend. Despite being the one who's dying, Michael seems to be handling the news better than Andy, a socially awkward middle-aged man who knows he will soon have to navigate the world without his best friend. Romano and Duplass integrate light humor into some heavy situations and difficult conversations with relative ease to create a touching and sweet but infinitely sad and cathartic story. Though this is mostly the Duplass and Romano show, some of the supporting characters get their moments to shine as well.  Dendrie Taylor, who plays Nancy the hotel owner where Michael and Andy are staying, and Kadeem Hardison, who plays the pharmacist who fills Michael's prescription, have a few brief and somewhat subtle but nevertheless impactful moments when they appear in the film.
Paddleton 2019 Netflix movie Ray Romano Mark Duplass
"We're neighbors. I live on top of him." (Image Source)
"Paddleton" (2019) may be a simplistic, small indie drama about a personal journey, but it is worth checking out if you are prepared to endure this depressing subject. It is honest, poignant, sad, affecting, and beautiful. The last act will break your heart into a million pieces and restore your faith in humanity just a little bit, so be sure to have tissues handy.

My Rating: 8/10
BigJ's Rating: 7/10
IMDB's Rating: ~7.2/10
RT Rating: ~92%
Do we recommend this movie: Yes!

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