[VoxSpace Review] Paddleton : A Netflix Dramedy On The Quirks Of A Tragicomic Life

The Andy-Michael Bromance Is Quite Middle-Of-The-Road

Paddleton is lined with a series of insignificant events, conversations, hand gestures, and a newly invented game (Paddleton) played with tender compliance between two friends, Andy and Michael. The co-existence of two lives enmeshed in their chosen solitude will leave you with a warm feeling. It shows two aspects of human will when subjugated to two disparate circumstances. In one instance this will surrender passively to a merciless fate, in the other, we see its loud victory against the antipathy of life.

Andy, played by Ray Romano is the epitome of courage that is required to love and participate in a quasi-melodramatic journey, bearing his tenant Michael’s habitual misery. Scriptwriters Mark Duplass (who also plays Michael) and Alexander Lehmann have sewn Andy’s bravery into everyday acts as I said into inconsequential events- broken threads of conversations, watching Kung Fu, sharing a burnt pizza together, accompanying to the pharmacy, and playing the absurd game of Paddleton.

Although bit low key on the storyline, Paddleton is more than just another drop in the sea of Netflix Originals that flood our home screen!

A Coming-Of-Age Dramedy With An Admirable Pair

If you are in for a larger than life demonstration of friendship, sidesplitting bro jokes, dank humour, or even extravagant show of sentiments, then Paddleton will disappoint you. Andy and Michael are like neighbours, confidantes, and family to each other. Living in a modest apartment, they allow themselves very little revelations about life or familial bond.

Michael suffers from terminal cancer, and their constant jibber jabber fills up the white noise deafening their solitary lives. As Andy buries loneliness behind stacks of papers in his office, Michael is a copy-shop clerk, hardly in tune with any philosophy. Their chemistry is shown to be a cross between bromance and a homosexual couple, talking about work when chopping vegetables together, and sometimes haggling over paying the bill.


Both of them are gawkish, almost like vagabonds, with no familial ties, living off each other like veteran couples. They do their little rituals like discussing toilet habits and playing Paddleton with religious fervour that makes Paddleton tiptoe on the boundaries of slapstick.

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“Paddleton is a game that you can play with your friend, but not against your friend. Because I think they love each other so much, they don’t want to beat each other at anything.”- Duplass on Paddleton.

The gigs go about in endless repetition, following its own rhythm as a sense of finality is firmly perched on the top of it. It is not always about easy breezy humour, the film pushes you to some deeper pits as well. You tend to question if these guys are emotionally dissonant to the world outside on purpose?

We don’t see any intrusion from the outside world into their domestic lives. Andy is jealous and insecure about Michael, he acts aggressively against leaving Michael on his own or even to third parties. When Dave (Kadeem Hardison) tries to be a part of this Andy-Michael macrocosm, Andy harangues in between to verbally gherao on Dave.  Interestingly, whenever Andy and Michael get accosted by strangers as a gay couple, they hardly try to dissuade the opinion.

Halfway through the film, you realize the fine balance of comedy and pathos that the script maintains is actually a difficult job, especially when the other person has cancer. The “I am the dying guy” and “I am the other guy” dichotomy wisely runs through the narrative of Paddleton, giving you a warm fuzzy feeling of love and commitment.

Paddleton Trips, But Manages Itself Just Fine

Paddleton is slow paced and sometimes predictable enough to fast-forward your way through it, except, in moments when it will shake you out of the trance.

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Together when Andy and Michael share the last hour of their friendship, spitting tablets into a glass, the emptiness of their lives strikes you hard. These split seconds breathe a whiff of fresh air into the film, taking bromance to a whole different level. Julian Wass, the music director, infused piano and guitar chords to ease the transition from Andy and Michael’s trauma to the quirks and eccentricities of these two characters, the only source of laughter in Paddleton.

Watch Paddleton If Only For The “Moments”

Now albeit the film gives you enough clues to do the guesswork about the inevitable ending, the duo keeps you hooked through the rest of the screen time.; which is sheer brilliance on the writers’ part. The improvisational element- extemporization of lines, and manoeuvres certainly contribute to its naturalistic bit. But, Paddleton certainly does not escape it’s maudlin and mediocre, trapped inside a shaggy script. In this equation, Andy and Michael encounter themselves only in each other’s actuality, a relationship which does not need to be validated by any social dictum.