Movie Review: The Paperboy (2012)

Posted: February 3, 2013 in Drama


Two newspapermen from the Florida Times, Ward Jansen, (Matthew McConaughey) and Yardley Acheman (David Oyelowo)  are investigating a murder in the 1960’s.  Hillary Van Vetter (John Cusack) is accused of murdering Sherriff Thurman Call (Danny Hannemen) The first person Ward and Yardley interview is Hillary’s pen pal, Charlotte Bless. (Nicole Kidman) Charlotte has a thing for incarcerated felons, and Ward’s brother Jack (Zak Efron)  has a thing for Charlotte.   Hillary says he was stealing sod at the time the sheriff was murdered. The newspapermen interview Hillary’s uncle, Tyeee (Ned Bellamy) who corroborates Hillary’s story.  The more people Yardley interviews, the more Hillary’s story seems to be true, but did Hillary really kill the sheriff?  Or is he being set up for a murder he didn’t commit?

The Paperboy could have been a good movie, something like In The Heat of The Night, but it seems intent on exploring the unseemly underbelly of the characters sexual practices more than telling a straightforward murder mystery, and the sad part is that none of the smarminess is necessary.  Nicole Kidman plays trailer trash, badly.  She struggles with a Southern accent mightily, and just seems noticeably uncomfortable with the character she’s playing.  I’m scratching my head over her Screen Actors Guild nomination for this role.  It’s just puzzling.  Zak Efron doesn’t even attempt an accent.  He thinks he can parade around without a shirt and call it acting.  It doesn’t work.  Matthew McConaughey is the only one who puts some effort into his role, and it pays off, but again he is undermined by lousy writing.  John Cusack, who I genuinely like as an actor, plays over the top crazy in this film, and it comes off looking cartoonish. This is a good cast, very good, and it deserves better material than is put forth here.

The writer here is Lee Daniels who also wrote and directed Precious.  Daniels apparently thinks he can write anything based on the success of one movie, he can’t.  In addition to the numerous and gratuitous sex scenes, there’s gratuitous violence thrown in.  There’s also the technique of amateurish narration used in abundance.   This is just a lousy movie on all counts, don’t think that because Kidman was nominated, that there’s anything worth watching here.  There isn’t.

The Paperboy. Yellow Journalism.


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