Paddleton – Film Review

Director: Alex Lehmann

Writers: Alex Lehmann and Mark Duplass

Starring: Ray Romano and Mark Duplass

In Paddleton Mark Duplass stars as Michael, a middle-aged man who finds out that he has terminal cancer. Not wanting to suffer in pain, he decides to take prescribed life-ending medication and asks his best friend, Andy (Ray Romano) to be there when he does. Andy reluctantly agrees, and they go on a road trip to the nearest pharmacy that will actually fulfil the prescription.  

The title refers to a game that Michael and Andy have created and play on a regular basis, where they take it turns to hit a ball off a wall at a drive-in theatre and try to get it into a barrel. It’s part of their routine, where they spend pretty much all their free time together playing Paddleton, eating Pizza and watching martial arts film. They both live quite a life almost removed from the rest of society, as they’re each other’s only friend and don’t have much contact with anyone else. Andy is incredibly socially awkward, hating any small talk and comes across as unintentionally rude in most situations. He dreads his co-workers speaking to him, and only ever seems to be at east around Michael.

Michael and Andy’s friendship is really endearing and heart-warming. Both Mark Duplass and Ray Romano give incredibly moving and authentic performances. They make it feel so raw and real. There’s so much subtly in every scene, with so much left unsaid that comes across through little movements and hesitations. Little things like Andy wanting to pay for the medicine that will eventually kill his best friend, just so he can feel some kind of control over it.

Through ninety minutes you really get to know both of the characters, and really care for them. It’s sad to watch Michael struggle with cancer and start to fade away, while at the same time you can see Andy losing his only friend and struggling to come to terms with that. It’s a really moving drama, that does have some funny moments, but it’s not an all out comedy.

Paddleton is a moving and understated story about friendship and being there when someone needs you. The story has been told before in various different ways, but the central performances and strength of the characters make this worth watching.

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About ashleymanningwriter

Young Adult Fiction writer. Horror and fantasy blended together.
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