The Paperboy (Lee Daniels, 2013)

What's it about? Ward Jansen (Matthew McConaughey) is a reporter who returns to his Floridian hometown to investigate the case of a death row convict (John Cusack) who he believes was given an unfair trial. Things are complicated by the involvement of his kid brother (Zac Efron), his partner (David Oyelowo) and Charlotte (Nicole Kidman), the convict's trashy fiancee, who sets all the male pulses racing.


Is it any good? Daniels' follow-up to his Oscar-nominated Precious promises much. It features scenes with a slutty Kidman simulating fellatio and urinating on Efron's pretty face. It has Cusack playing against type as a deranged inmate ejaculating in his pants. And it has the in-form McConaughey tied up in bondage in his birthday suit. And that's on top of straightforward murder, violence and racial tensions in the sweaty, steamy, swampy setting. You wouldn't think that a film with all those things in it would be boring and pointless. But Daniels has managed to make it so. It doesn't work as a murder-mystery and it's not funny enough to work as a black comedy. It doesn't really say anything interesting about racism or sexuality, and it's all put together in a fairly uninspired fashion. Credit to the cast, especially Kidman, for giving it their all, but they must be wondering why they bothered for such a pointless film. Apparently it is meant to be a deliberately trashy and sleazy adaptation of Pete Dexter's novel. Okay then, this review is deliberately negative opinion of the film.

I don't trust you. What do others think? Not a popular one, this. Competing for the Palme d'Or at Cannes in 2012, it received a hostile reception, with audiences jeering and booing during the screening. Robbie Collins from The Daily Telegraph declared it the worst film he seen at Cannes, only to succumb to its 'charms' a year later when he claimed to have finally 'got it'. You were right first time, Robbie.

What does the Fonz think? Not worth delivering.




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