Claudia Karvan and Hugh Jackman star in PAPERBACK HERO, directed by Antony J. Bowman for REP Distribution.

Paperback Hero (1999, Antony J. Bowman)

A substantial portion–probably seventy percent–of Paperback Hero is solely about Hugh Jackman being charming. The rest, presumably, is about being a Claudia Karvan movie. But it’s really not.

Karvan’s top-billed and she’s got, I guess, the bigger story, but Jackman’s the protagonist for the parts of the film where there’s a protagonist–the result is a bit of a mess.

Karvan’s story arc is lousy. She’s saddled with a lousy fiancé (Andrew S. Gilbert), who’s essentially a nice guy, but thinks women really have a place and it’s in the home. But the movie never really condemns Gilbert, instead using Jeanie Drynan’s crappy husband (Bruce Venables) as a stand-in. But instead of falling in love with Jackman, it’s implied she’s always loved him and just gone with his best friend (Gilbert) because he didn’t want her.

But Jackman didn’t really not want her, he was just scared of being a success. Or something. It’s a saccharine romantic comedy without much going for it besides inoffensive direction and good performances from Jackman and Karvan. Karvan’s such a professional actor, it’s hard to think of a role she wouldn’t be able to pull off.

Gilbert’s all right, I guess. He’s the butt of the movie’s jokes though. Drynan’s nice. Angie Milliken is bad. It might not be her fault, it’s the worst written role in the film.

It’s hard not to enjoy a little. Besides, it’s chock full of Roy Orbison references. So many, in fact, it’s awkward.

1/4

CREDITS

Written and directed by Antony J. Bowman; director of photography, David Burr; edited by Veronika Jenet; music by Burkhard von Dallwitz; production designer, Jon Dowding; produced by Lance W. Reynolds and John Winter; released by REP Distribution.

Starring Claudia Karvan (Ruby Vale), Hugh Jackman (Jack Willis), Angie Milliken (Ziggy Keane), Andrew S. Gilbert (Hamish), Jeanie Drynan (Suzie), Bruce Venables (Artie) and Barry Rugless (Mad Pete).


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