Review: Paddleton (2019)

It’s a surprise that, following Netflix’s acquisition of Paddleton at the Sundance Film Festival in January, they didn’t promote the movie harder. Then again in a world where Birdbox was watched by almost 45million people is it really a surprise? Exactly how do you market a cancer dramadey about 2 middle aged guys who like watching old kung-fu movies?

The answer lies somewhere in the last 30 minutes of this movie, which I might add, probably takes home the title of “saddest ending of the year”. Seriously, you expect these movies to have an emotional ending, but you are not ready for how well-crafted and frankly heartbreaking this movie’s ending is. Director Alexandre Lehmann let’s the emotional climax linger as we see the final moments Micheal (Duplass) and Andy (Romano) get to spend together. It’s not in a rush to wrap itself up and instead Lehmann knows to let us appreciate the grief that inevitably follows death.

Mark Duplass and Ray Romano as Micheal & Andy in Paddleton (2019)

It’s frustrating then that such a truly wonderful ending is stuck behind a sluggish and lacklustre first hour. Despite the good chemistry between Duplass and Romano and the odd chuckle here and there, there’s little to grasp to in terms of real substance in the first hour. It feels like we’re mostly meandering along, passing the time until we get to the end, and Lehmann clearly struggled to find compelling material to pad out the already short 89 minute runtime. It’s perfectly serviceable by itself, but knowing how great of an ending the movie packs, it’s hard not to reflect back on the first hour and not find it mostly mediocre.

Mark Duplass and Ray Romano as Micheal & Andy in Paddleton (2019)

Again though, the movie is a celebration of life, as much as it is the heartbreak that follows with the loss of one. Romano and Duplass really sell you on their love for one another making the emotional ending of this movie one hell of a sucker punch. If your looking for an under-the-radar pick to stream on Netflix one day I think this may just fit the bill nicely. Just make sure you’ve got tissues handy… lots of tissues handy.


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