‘Paulie Go!’ (2022) Review: A Whimsical Road Trip Leads to Unlikely Friends
Andrew Nackman’s Paulie Go! is an indie comedy that follows a young robotics whiz kid who wants to be the best in the world. But when his dreams are crushed, he goes above and beyond to turn things around. In this coming-of-age comedy, Nackman and his screenwriter Jack Greene waste no time setting up a whimsical and sentimental road trip.
When Paulie (Ethan Dizon), a high school tech wunderkind, gets rejected from his dream job at a world-renowned lab with a robotics professor, he is convinced there has been a mistake. Desperately, he tries to get in touch with the professor through the university, but upon multiple failures, he decides to steal his uncle’s van and drive to Minnesota to find the professor. However, when he gets there, he gets caught by Sheriff Anderson (David Theune) for stealing his uncle’s van and he has no idea what he should do next. After Sheriff Anderson learns that Paulie has nowhere to stay, he offers to let the young kid stay at his house. His daughter Avery (Madison Wolfe), a socially awkward teen who makes YouTube videos, offers to help, and both of them take a trip to Minnesota.
While Paulie Go! gets into the rejection and eventual road trip, the audience is not given a chance to get to know the protagonist apart from what his aspirations are. A socially awkward teenager, who cannot differentiate between bluntness and kindness, his decision to take a road trip seems irrational. Even if the impulse is quite interesting for cinematic narrative purposes, it would have been great to give some light as to who Paulie is, rather than who he desperately desires to be.
Both Paulie and Avery are socially awkward teens, but their personalities are very different. Paulie is blunt and condescending, which is quite confusing to understand considering he spent his whole life trying to figure out how robots can be more like humans. He has no real relationships with anyone and the audience does not get to see him interact with any of his family members. On the other hand, Avery is outspoken and independent, however, her only relationship is with her viewers who watch her catching fish in her YouTube videos. Equally awkward but in their way, Paulie Go! reveals plenty of fun moments between the unlikely friends.
Paulie Go! has plenty of room to show the easygoing friendship and even if it is a standard coming-of-age movie, there are plenty of charming and lovable moments. The best moment in the entire movie is when Paulie and Avery reach the end of their adventure, which adds a science fiction element that is not quite expected in a coming-of-age story. This direction teaches the characters, and hopefully, the audience, about the importance of maintaining friendships.