A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this semi-scripted, semi-documentary-style movie co-starring Juno's Michael Cera focuses on a young actress' search for the meaning of love. There's not much sexuality, since the focus is on romantic love, but there are a couple of scenes in which couples hold hands and kiss (sweetly, not passionately). For a PG-13 movie, there's not much language other than the occasional "s--t" and "bastard." The movie's message is ultimately positive: Love is out there, but it takes personal and emotional risk/commitment to find and feel it.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
Young comedic actress/performance artist Charlyne Yi (best known as Martin Starr's zoned-out girlfriend in Knocked Up) sets out on the ultimate adventure: to find out whether love truly exists. Skeptical of the concept of love, Yi; her director, Nick (played by actor Jake M. Johnson); and a tiny film crew embark on a cross-country journey to interview professors, novelists, divorcees, and couples -- all to determine the mechanics of love. Along the way, she gets to know the smitten, amazingly earnest Michael Cera (Juno, Superbad) and starts longing to be around him. But is it love?
Is it any good?
Yi is a refreshingly tomboyish Everygirl. Her incredibly expressive face lets you know exactly how she feels with every bulge of her eyes, downturn of her mouth, or lift of her eyebrows. Her skepticism about love makes the scenes with the geeky-but-adorable Cera sweetly predictable (the girl who doesn't believe in love discovers it on film for the very first time!), until she admits in front of him and her crew that she basically doesn't love him. Later, when she realizes how much she misses him, she begins to second-guess herself, which is, for a movie, pretty predictable.
The best part of PAPER HEART (a "hybrid" of documentary footage and scripted filmmaking) isn't the When Harry Met Sally-style interviews with couples, but enchanting little cardboard puppet shows used to depict the various love stories told in those interviews. Each interlude is magical, despite (or perhaps because of) the crude materials that look straight out of a preschool craft closet: aluminum foil, yarn, cardboard, and toy vehicles. Ingeniously crafted, the mixed-media, mixed-form film is charming and uplifting -- a welcome change from all the crass cynicism that's usually on display at the multiplex.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about adolescent and adult relationships, especially in light of the one couple who got married at 17. Do you think there are any rules about what makes a successful relationship?
Do you think this movie fits into the documentary genre, or should it be considered a comedy? Is it disappointing to know that the "director" in the movie was played by an actor?
What did you think of the puppet segments? How did they work (or not) with the rest of the movie?
Our editors recommend
For kids who love comedies
Top advice and articles
Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.
Streaming options powered by JustWatch