'Paddleton' Director Alex Lehmann Says Netflix Movie Explores Importance of Friendship

Kate Hahn
Preview Netflix

Ray Romano brings wry humor to Paddleton, a new film about oddball best friends coping when one is diagnosed with a terminal illness. The title comes from a silly, scoreless version of racquetball invented by lovable middle-aged outliers Andy (Romano) and buddy Michael (Mark Duplass). It’s just one of their low-intensity bonding activities, which also include re-watching an obscure kung fu movie, doing puzzles and having laid-back debates.

“They find a shared peace and comfort with their very simple life,” says director Alex Lehmann. “It’s emotional territory that’s not explored often — a platonic relationship between misfits.”

Would Ray Romano Do an 'Everybody Loves Raymond' Revival?

Would Ray Romano Do an 'Everybody Loves Raymond' Revival?

Sadly, three members of the cast have died.

The routine is disrupted when Michael becomes gravely ill and, to avoid an inevitable painful decline, chooses to end life on his own terms with the help of a physician. Not all pharmacies will fill his prescription for a fatal drug dose, so Michael and Andy take a road trip. There’s an ostrich farm visit, a stay at a Danish-themed hotel and droll dialogue, some of which Romano improvised.

The film focuses on relationships and characters rather than big laughs or melodrama. “This movie is about how lucky anyone can be to have the special friendship where someone in the world gets you,” Lehmann says. “It’s the most important thing in life.”

Paddleton, Movie Premiere, Friday, Feb. 22, Netflix

And If You Want More of Ray Romano's Comedy:

Ray Romano: Right Here, Around the Corner

Craving a more laugh-out-loud side of Ray Romano? For his first televised stand-up special in 23 years, the 61-year-old comic finds humor in relatable topics (marriage, getting older) that made Everybody Loves Raymond, his 1996-2005 CBS sitcom, a hit.

The event consists of two back-to-back sets he performed at small comedy clubs in New York City last year.

Stand-up Special, Available Now, Netflix