Culture Magazine

Movie Review: The Paperboy

By Storycarnivores @storycarnivores

Movie Review: The PaperboyTitle: The Paperboy
Directed by: Lee Daniels
Distributed by: Millennium Films
Release Date: October 5, 2012 (Limited)
Rated: R

Synopsis: A reporter returns to his Florida hometown to investigate a case involving a death row inmate. (Via IMDB)

Brian’s Review: I was stunned by the embarrassment that is Academy Award nominated Lee Daniels’ The Paperboy. Since its premiere at Cannes last May, it’s been known as that movie where Nicole Kidman pees on Zac Efron, but let me tell you—it’s a whole lot more (or less, I guess). I’ll be honest in that my interest in this film stemmed from a report that the still very pretty Efron wears his undies, and only his undies, in a whopping nine scenes of this southern sleazefest (I didn’t keep count, but it was at least five or six). I also liked the director, whose previous film was the disturbing Precious, and the rest of the cast is terrific, with Nicole Kidman, Matthew McConaughey, and John Cusack giving memorable performances (some for all the wrong reasons).

The Paperboy is not a bad film in that it is boring; it’s a bad film in that it is very, very bad. I can almost recommend The Paperboy as being bad in a fun way, along the lines of, say, Showgirls, or something. But one major problem with the film is that the tone shifts so much. The first half-hour it feels like a real movie, with a clear direction for both its plot and characters. John Cusack plays a real skeezball who’s been arrested for the alleged murder of a police officer, and Efron and McConaughey play brothers who want to write an article about him for their local paper and want to find out if he’s innocent or not. Not soon after does Kidman arrive, his old flame, who wants to be with Cusack as soon as he’s released from a prison for a crime she believes he didn’t commit. Worry sets in from the opening scene, when we as an audience discover Macy Gray is going to narrate the movie, but there’s still a chance for something genuinely sweaty, slimy, and fun. I was hoping for a film similar to the tone of Wild Things, but what I got was a movie that had very few ideas in its head.

The performances are all over the place, but the most awful, memorable turn comes from Academy Award winner Nicole Kidman, who delivers one of the most embarrassing lead performances I’ve seen in a film of recent years. It’s not even Kidman’s fault really; she does what Lee Daniels and the screenplay ask her to do. But it’s such an over-the-top, unrealistic character, that it’s incredible that nobody was able to reign her in a little. Instead, Daniels probably convinced her to keep bringing her performance up another notch; he’s not exactly a director of subtlety. The previously mentioned peeing scene is even more astonishing that expected, with at least thirty seconds of Kidman spraying Efron’s shirtless body from head to toe with her urine. But earlier than that is a scene that borders the line of Scary Movie comedy territory, with Kidman and Cusack having loud, graphic sex in the prison without their bodies actually touching.

Movie Review: The Paperboy

I’ve had a crush on Zac Efron ever since I saw him in Hairspray five years ago, and I’ve been following his up-and-down career with great interest. I love my Zac, but even I have to admit he is an actor with limited range. He did OK in The Loved One earlier this year, but he’s completely out of his element here, given little to do but show off his pecks and dance in his undies in the rain with Kidman. When he has to show emotion, especially in a horrifying scene at the end with a bloodied McConaughey, it’s almost laughable. He looks amazing, but what else is there to his character? He’s wide-eyed and horny and filled with possibility, but his character never goes anywhere.

The biggest crime The Paperboy commits, however, is that we slowly come to discover a little bit past the halfway mark that it has nowhere to go. Daniels seems to have compiled this amazing cast together before a proper screenplay was ever finished, because nobody in his right mind could possibly be satisfied with the way the movie ends. The finale brings all four of its characters to a murky swamp, and any of the tension and surprise the movie springs on us in this sequence, is completely obliterated with a cheap voice-over ending that just tells us what happened to all the surviving characters. Lame! I wanted The Paperboy to be a great trash movie, as Roger Ebert recently called it. But to me, it’s just trash.

The Paperboy opened last Friday in limited release and will open wider in the coming weeks. Check this movie out… if you dare.

Movie Review: The Paperboy

Back to Featured Articles on Logo Paperblog