THE PAPERBOY (2012)

Directed By: Lee Daniels 
Written By: Lee Daniels & Pete Dexter 
Based On The Book By: Pete Dexter 
Cinematography By: Roberto Schaefer 
 Editor: Joe Klotz 


 Cast: Nicole Kidman, Zac Efron, Matthew McConaughey, David Oyelowo, Macy Gray, John Cusack, Scott Glenn, Ned Bellamy


Eldest son Ward Jansen is a star reporter for a Miami newspaper and has returned home with close friend Yardley to investigate a racial murder case. Younger brother Jack Jansen has returned home after a failed stint at university as a star swimmer. To help give his life some direction, Ward gives Jack a job on their investigation as their driver. But into the mix comes the fiancée of the imprisoned convict who stirs up confusing feelings of love and lust for the young Jack. Meanwhile, Ward and Yardley’s investigation stirs up
deep-rooted issues of race and acceptance which could cause serious consequences for everyone involved.

This film that deemed to start out as a thriller, Quickly seems to spiral into a no man’s land that resembles more of a misguided Grind-house film more than anything else. The sad part is what seems at first to become earnest filmmaking quickly delves into some kind of camp classic

As the film continues the outline is about proving a man might be innocent. It mostly focuses not only on the politics, but the coming of age tale of Zac Efron’s character. It also concerns itself with building and defining the characters.

Now I am not the biggest fan of Lee Daniels as a Director yet, but watching this film. Just like in PRECIOUS. It feels like he puts in too many surrealistic seeming camera tricks and angles that become distracting and unneeded when the film could have just told the story.

It feels like a person just out of film school. Who feels the need to how off or insert things that aren’t really needed in a way to impress. Like a college student writing a paper with too many big words misused trying to impress. I see it as him trying and learning new things behind the camera thinking the audience will be amazed as much as he is using them. The other problem is it plays like a drama then wants to be a thriller, but only at certain times and wanting to represent race relations of that period.

In fact the film begins with Macy Gray playing a maid who is being questioned about a book dedicated to her. now it feels like an interrogation that is really used to give her character a reason to voice over the film. Other then that the opening scene amounts to nothing later in the film. No real reason to be there. There are a bunch of scenes like that throughout the film. Some are what help to bring out the ridiculousness of the film. This film could have been a sort of hard-boiled thriller and mystery if it didn’t seem to get distracted by becoming a Coming of Age film that has the look of a WONDER YEARS episode while parading Zac Efron around in his underwear. I am sure what might have worked on the page here comes off more silly and misguided. The film often times seems confusing or confused itself.

Pedro Almodóvar was several times approached to helm this project and seriously considered to make it his first English-speaking feature. He finally declined but, allegedly, he participated in early versions of the script. He might have been the one to balabce the camp with the drama and thriller elements without making it laughable.

Just as it could have been more believable if John Cusack’s character wasn’t as physically repulsive as he morally.

Alex Pettyfer was first choice for the role of Jack.

Tobey Maguire was cast as Ward but dropped out because of scheduling conflicts. Luckily for him.

Nicole Kidman replaced Sofía Vergara. Which might have pushed it into a more straight to DVD title though the lust factor would have been more understandable. Though explaining her characters origin and why a so called racist would correspond with her would take more then a bit of explaining.

It plays like camp, but tries to be taken seriously which makes it even worse. Though Nicole Kidman seems to be the only one who realizes or is comfortable with having fun and sending it all up, While trying to create a realistic character.

scenes like

Nicole Kidman peeing on Zac Efron to combat his jellyfish stings.

Nicole Kidman masturbating in a jailhouse visit to John Cusack who also masturbates and we see the aftermath of

The film just feels dirty and unnecessary as it’s based on a hard-boiled mystery novel that seems to forget it’s premise. The film feels all over the place, for all of this ridiculousness and shocking scenes that come once on awhile between it is really dull, though gives Zac Efron no real reason to run around constantly only in underwear.

The film gives John Cusack a chance to embarass himself by looking really bad and dirty. Inhabiting a bad caricature of a character.

Matthew McConaughey’s character has an interesting arc that is shockingly Introduced then slightly dropped or pushed out of favor.

The key defining point of this tawdry tale is Nicole Kidman and her character. She gives the role her all and is impressive as a trashy femme-fatale. Overly made up with make up that looks like it was applied by herself an it is messy. She is a scary, but also a scene stealer. She deserves a oscar nomination for her determination and grounding as she stays true to the character throughout and somehow finds a way to fit in.While actually creating a character to care about

The film you think would be ripe for camp, bit it is so underplayed and then serious there isn’t room to enjoy it on a camp level.

In the third act the film revs up to be a thinker then just runs out of steam and ends with no great drama. Leaving us with a whimper.

While I can’t really recommend the film. I will say it is a film to see. To see something hopefully one of a kind. Some might find entertainment from it. Which is why I can’t completely fail it. I believe it shows lee Daniels a former film producer is still leading as a director At least he is trying unlike some directors

 Grade: D

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