I was so excited last night when I hit Facebook and noticed that two of my friends had shared “Paperman“. I had been waiting a few months to see the Disney short, which preceded Wreck-It Ralph in theaters (I have not seen that, but I plan on watching it). I heard excellent reviews, and was certainly not disappointed.
If you know nothing of the short, it’s best to start with a bit of background. John Kahrs animates “Paperman” in his directorial debut. He uses a combination of CGI and traditional animation techniques. Seen Waking Life or any other Richard Linklater animated films? It’s a similar technique that looks completely different. It actually looks quite beautiful, as “Paperman” paints a monochromatic picture of 1940’s New York City.
The short starts on a train platform. Our hero, a lanky working stiff, meets the girl of his dreams while waiting for the train on his way to work. They exhibit some chemistry, but before either of them can act on it, they are transported off to work. Fortunately for our hero, he sees her later, working in the building across the street. Both of them are tens of stories off of the ground, however, so he must get creative in order to get her attention.
You can watch the rest, as Disney has wisely put the short on Youtube in anticipation of the Academy Awards. “Paperman” combines romance, some chuckles, and some low fantasy to make a very touching piece. The core story isn’t anything you’ve done before, but it’s executed to perfection. It doesn’t need words, only a perfect score by Christophe Beck. The direction is certainly not overblown; “Paperman” tells the entire story in 6 minutes and none of it is unnecessary. It does a better job of telling a story than a lot of feature films do in 2 hours. Aspiring and established directors, take notes.