‘Good on Paper’ is an off-beat romantic comedy that lays heavily onto the comedy part whilst keeping its romance aspect refreshingly modern. The story follows the acidic stand-up comic Andrea, who thinks she may have found an unlikely partner in the goofy man she meets on a flight. However, what ensues is an oft hilarious, emotional roller coaster for the comedian as she realizes her new boyfriend has a cupboard full of skeletons. The unconventional film has an equally unconventional conclusion that lacks the usual mawkish happy endings of romantic comedies and seems surprisingly practical. Could there be some truth in the incredible tale of ‘Good on Paper’? Let’s find out.
Is Good on Paper Based on a True Story?
Yes, ‘Good on Paper’ is based on a true story. Or, to quote the opening title of the movie, “This is a mostly true story based on a lie.” The film is based on the experience that its writer and producer, Iliza Shlesinger, had many years ago. According to her, the events depicted in the movie all happened “in some way or another.” Iliza, like the film’s protagonist Andrea, was romantically involved with a man who created elaborate lies, and this was one of the most bizarre and memorable experiences the comedian remembers having.
She said, “The story is based off of my real-life experience and meeting someone on a plane, befriending them, thinking something was a little off and eventually falling for this person and then finding out everything about them was a lie from the day that I met them.” In fact, in real life, the relationship came to an end “with a whimper, not with the bang.” The comic texted her then-beau and confronted him about his supposed Yale background, which he agreed was a lie that he concocted. Slowly but surely, she found out that the real-life Dennis did not live in the same residence that she thought, nor did his mom have cancer.
Iliza clarified, “These things started to unravel, and I think I met up with him one other time, but I didn’t know the extent.” She then realized that her boyfriend was not just “misguided.” Describing her profession (of being a stand-up comic) and herself as someone who takes real-life situations and shares them with people in a way that makes them relatable, Iliza decided to share her curious experience. So strange were the events that the film is based on that Iliza left out some of the lies that the conman told her all those years ago.
Understandably hurt from the emotional experiences, the unapologetic stand-up comic found that turning them into a story she could share with people had a cathartic effect. This cathartic process of telling her story eventually got imbibed with a lot more of Iliza’s comedy and ended up becoming the script for ‘Good on Paper.’ The story, being so bizarre and yet so relatable according to Iliza, worked well when translated into a film.
Another major point of focus for the comedic writer was the aspect of authenticity that her film explored. Near the end of the movie, Andrea states that it was the authentic parts of Dennis that attracted her to him, as opposed to the lies he propagated to impress her. Iliza wanted her protagonist to be a strong, self-sufficient woman who tells it as she sees it, much like the writer herself. This is why the protagonist in the movie is also a stand-up comic. Moreover, this also brings a level of credibility and authenticity to her character, who, unlike other “romcom girls,” doesn’t need a big lesson that fundamentally changes her perspective at the end of the movie.
Being able to turn this traumatic experience into a passion project was cathartic for the comedian. Now, when she thinks about the events surrounding the man that lied so profusely to her, she remembers the actors that worked with her and the honest and funny movie they made about the events. Hence, despite writing about such a real event from the past, ‘Good on Paper’ is a cathartic and funny retelling of the bizarre experiences of the film’s comedian writer.
Read More: Where Was Good on Paper Filmed?