Sad, Buddy Road Trip;
Poses Deep Questions.
If your best friend had a terminal illness and asked you to help them commit suicide…do you think you could do it? Would your desire to help your friend end their suffering override the moral gray areas? What if losing them meant you would be alone in the world…would that affect your decision? These are the questions at the heart of the latest Netflix release, Paddleton.
Starring Ray Romano and Mark Duplass, this is a very serious subject treated with a lot of heart and humor to help ease you through it. As neighbors (often mistaken for lovers), the two men have formed a very strong bond, know each other very well and cherish their routine of pizza and kung fu movies. When Michael (Duplass) tells Andy (Romano) about his affliction and plan of action, his friend reluctantly goes along with it, though he clearly displays his unwillingness to process this information until the last possible moment. Losing Michael will leave Andy by himself and he doesn’t know how to handle that. But his sadness comes from a place far beyond selfishness. He comes across as believing yhay maybe Michael will just…be fine. Maybe there is no need for drastic measures after all.
Director Alex Lehmann handles the story with great care. His two leads always take center stage and the story unfolds naturally and at a good pace. Working with an outline instead of a traditional script, they really capture how awkward and bittersweet a journey like this would be, and only once did it fall into hokey territory. Romano displays some major dramatic chops, including carrying a climactic scene with almost no dialogue and some very powerful imagery. It is a long scene, carries a lot of emotional weight and he handles it in amazing fashion.
Netflix has done it again. This may tend too close toward the “little indie” end of the spectrum for some viewers, but if you’re in the mood to laugh and maybe shed a few tears, you can’t go wrong with this one. It will make you think about love, the power of friendship, and just how much strength you can draw from others when you can’t find it in yourself.