It takes about five minutes into Paradox to determine whether or not you’re going to like it. It’s a “movie” in the sense that it’s a bunch of moving pictures, but in the traditional sense is a cross between an Adam Sandler buddy movie and a music video. Sandler, notoriously, gets a bunch of his friends together, takes them on vacation, and then shoots a movie. That appears to have been one of the main inspirations for Paradox, which takes a bunch of stoner musicians, puts them in the wild west, and then maybe shoots something that occasionally resembles someone’s imagination of what a movie might look like.
They hang out at this farm house, smoke pot, tell “jokes,” make “observations” about the world, and play music. That’s why you hire Neil Young, Willie Nelson, and a couple of Willie’s kids to star, right? Sometimes they go wandering. The internet tells me they’re looking for a treasure, but there’s little to indicate that in th movie, and it doesn’t matter if they are. The movie isn’t about its plot. It isn’t “about” anything.
Midway through, the characters pause their “acting” and perform an actual concert. I mean a tent, instruments, and everything. It’s like this is a music video, and the events preceding and following the concert are the “story” bits that lots of people skip through, because when we’re watching a music video we don’t need 15 minutes of story for a four-minute song. 15 minutes of story is generous here, by the way. There isn’t even that much. And it’s a 75-minute movie.
Paradox doesn’t care. It’s going to indulge in what it wants, because it’s not here for you, or for me, or for anyone, except maybe fans of the musicians that appear in it. It’s a series of largely unconnected scenes that are in service of the music. It’s something Netflix picked up to play in the background for fans of the people who star in it. People like themselves, their families, and maybe those of you who like Neil Young—but even then, wouldn’t one of his concerts be a better experience?
There are a couple of visual flourishes in Paradox—it’s unclear if they were director Daryl Hannah‘s idea or her cinematographer’s. My guess is the latter; there doesn’t seem to be much direction here. Most of it looks cheap and flat, but there are sometimes grainy shots or homages to famous Westerns that’ll make you take notice, assuming you haven’t fallen asleep by then. It’s got a sleepy, laid-back feeling, so you very well might.
Paradox is a feature-length music video that lacks plot, characters, dialogue, and purpose. Does that matter? Well, probably not. It’s not meant to be watched and enjoyed like a normal movie—at least, I hope not. It exists to be put on in the background, listened to, and occasionally glanced at. In that sense, Netflix is the perfect place for it. On the other and, it’s another “Original” that makes you wonder just what’s going on with Netflix’s film division. It’s something that’s far too quickly gaining the reputation for producing or picking up whatever garbage comes its way, and Paradox isn’t going to dissuade those thoughts.
Conclusion: Paradox is a stoner music video stretched out to theatrical length. It doesn’t work.
Recommendation: Only die-hard Neil Young fans should even consider watching it.