Paper [1994]

The excellent Paper Soldiers shifts fluidly from comedy to serious drama as it follows an overeager burglar named Shawn (Kevin Hart) through the ups and downs of his short, stressful career. Already on parole but faced with the power being turned off and his child forced to eat nothing but cereal, Shawn convinces an older thief (Derrick "Capone" Lee) to train him. He soon finds himself caught between his angry girlfriend (Tiffany Withers), his incompetent would-be-criminal friends, and a neighborhood sociopath with a hair-trigger temper (Beanie Sigel). Paper Soldiers always feels real, which makes the humor genuine and lets the movie shift gears into high tension. The performances are compelling throughout--Hart makes you care about Shawn without ever letting him off the hook for his foolish decisions. Smartly written and skillfully directed, Paper Soldiers deserves to be seen. Featuring cameos by Jay-Z, Memphis Bleek, and others. --Bret Fetzer

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