November 26, 2008 / 5:59 AM / 10 years ago

Michael Cera comedy flies under radar

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - Look at most movie databases, and you’ll find no mention of a new film called “Paper Hearts.”

Cast member Michael Cera poses at the premiere of "Superbad" at the Grauman's Chinese Theatre in Hollywood, California August 13, 2007. The movie opens in the U.S. on August 17. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni

But talk to indie film insiders, and the unconventional comedy, which stars Michael Cera (“Juno,” “Superbad”) and boasts other members of filmmaker Judd Apatow’s talent stable, and you’ll quickly realize how high expectations are running for this semi-secret project, which is expected to debut at next year’s Sundance Film Festival.

“It’s pretty much ‘the one,’ at least as far as festival programmers are concerned,” one seller said.

Those familiar with “Hearts” describe it as part documentary, part scripted comedy, centering on the real-life relationship between Cera and his girlfriend, Charlyne Yi, another member of the Apatow acting crew (she played the pigtailed stoner in “Knocked Up”). As in Cera’s recent “Nick and Nora’s Infinite Playlist,” music is a key element.

Nicholas Jasenovec, a relative unknown who has worked on past Apatow titles, makes his directing debut with the feature.

United Talent Agency — which packaged the movie and will sell it in Park City — has been careful to limit advance word, presumably in hopes of making a splash a la Sundance phenomenon “Napoleon Dynamite.”

After hyped Sundance movies like “What Just Happened” fizzled this past year, most sellers believe it wise to keep expectations in check. “Any movie that’s going to be touted too much will have a bull’s-eye on its back,” said one indie vet.

Still, some potential Sundance entries already are beginning to generate talk ahead of next week’s slate announcement. Ashton Kutcher’s raunch comedy “Spread,” Endgame Entertainment’s ‘60s coming-of-age story “An Education,” Shana Feste’s lost-child drama “The Greatest” and Antoine Fuqua’s cop tale “Brooklyn’s Finest” are setting tongues wagging.

On the documentary side, the Nicholas Kristof biography “Reporter,” R.J. Cutler’s nonfiction look at Vogue editor Anna Wintour and the youth politics pic “The Youngest Candidate” are creating heat.

And the Jim Carrey/Ewan McGregor feature “I Love You Phillip Morris” could bring a high-profile gay-themed pic to the lineup, even as some critics of the Mormon church’s support of California’s Proposition 8, which bans gay marriage, are calling for a boycott of the festival because it takes place in largely Mormon Utah.

Reuters/Hollywood Reporter

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