The Paperboy – It’s Not Shit
There were only 2 things I knew about The Paperboy before I started watching it:
1) Zac Efron appears in many scenes sans clothes.
2) Nicole Kidman pees on him.
How could anyone resist?
TL;DR You can’t. The Paperboy is a sleazy, steamy, delicious erotic/legal thriller/Southern gothic clusterfuck. John Cusack is tragically miscast (if only he was 20 years younger and not fat), but otherwise it’s hard to find fault with something that gives as few fucks as this. 4 out of 5 stars.
Also, can you believe the guy who directed Precious did this? What a turn around.
So the plot is centred on the titular Paperboy, who is a scantily clad Zac Efron. He’s Jack, a failed college swimmer who now lives at home with his dad, who owns the local newspaper (thus, the paperboy). His big brother Ward (Matthew McConaughey) comes to town to help a man, Hillary (John Cusack), off death row, at the behest of Hillary’s criminal-fetishizing girlfriend Charlotte (Nicole “you can’t notice my horrifying botox as much in this movie” Kidman). Jack falls hopelessly in love with Charlotte. Eroticism ensues. Ward and Jack’s investigation takes a few turns, and after the article Ward and his partner write frees Hillary, the brothers have their doubts about his innocence after all. Ward and Charlotte end up dead at Hillary’s hands, with Jack living to be hot another day.
Also, Macy Gray.
If you have a squiz through my It’s Not Shit history, you might notice that I have a thing for more trashy, genre-esque movies. And with The Paperboy, despite the mixed reviews, I was expecting some preachy, Oscar Bait bullshit. I was wrong, bitch.
The Paperboy’s greatest strength is its exact lack of preachiness. It kind of skirts the racism issue a few times, but isn’t swallowed by it. Ward turns out to be a gay sadomasochist, and it’s covered rather breezily and without judgement.
The movie seems to care a lot more about being a titillating good time than a tense, moody thriller. I’m not saying it isn’t tense or moody, but it doesn’t continuously spoil the schlock by bashing you with the “This Is Important” mallet.
Why I DON’T hate this movie:
So I get to have fun and pretend I’m watching something culturally valuable. I can gush over Nicole Kidman’s superb performance, but also enjoy her skankaliciousness and phantom blowjob. Perfection.
Kidman probably is the selling point. It seems like for every Rabbit Hole and Dogville, there’s a pile of Australias and Stepford Wives hanging around to make me hate her. But you’ve never seen her like this (at least I hope you’ve never seen Nicole Kidman taking a piss on a dude before. If you have, then touché). I’d forgotten that Nicole Kidman can be attractive.
Speaking of attractive, Zac Efron spends several scenes in just his underwear. Mmm hmm. His performance is sweet and stoic enough, too. I was impressed by Jack’s attitude towards his black maid (Macy) and his brother’s sexuality. And The Paperboy doesn’t do a The Help and shove the young, helpful, white character’s heroism in our faces. It’s just kinda there.
McConaughey does what he needs to with the self-loathing, gay, alcoholic, on-the-surface-professional Ward. I appreciated that his homosexuality didn’t overwhelm his actual character traits. Like Jack’s tolerance, it simply informs what we know about him. It isn’t all we need to know about him.
Macy Gray is the real revelation here. She doesn’t have to do much other than act sassy and occasionally pained, but she pulls it off well for what I would consider a non-actor. And that voice. I could listen to that narration all day.
The plot itself never receives a true resolution, but you’re given enough information to put it together. And the sheriff’s murder is treated as the plot catalyst it is (as opposed to the core plot element, which it isn’t), so the lack of resolution isn’t grating.
The pee scene is bizarre. But fantastic.
Charlotte, during her first face-to-face meeting with Hillary, does a blowjob mime thing. It’s awesome. Bonus points for the wet patch shot of Hillary’s shorts, showing that he came hands-free from simply watching her. She really is that hot.
Jack’s relationship with Anita (Macy) is sho shweet. He even stands up for her against his racist soon-to-be stepmum. And Anita looks classy as fuck when she’s all done up.
Best line goes to Yardley (Ward’s writing partner), who is upset when Charlotte requests they don’t roll the car windows down so her hair doesn’t get messed up (a fair point): “Are you serious? I’m sweating like a pregnant nun back here.” Are there any bad pregnant nun jokes?
Yardley was also only pretending to be British for credibility. I lol’d.
There are dildos in Ward’s hotel room. Black ones. I lol’d.
Oh, and the murder-tastic ending was crazy. But, like, the good crazy.
Reasons to hate:
A major element is the romantic plot between Jack and Charlotte, but it’s pretty shallow. Jack only wants her because she’s hot, and she’s a gargantuan cock-tease (say no to cock-teasing, everyone). At least she tosses him a pity fuck.
The dropping of the Gay Bomb was fucking severe. Ward goes from ambiguously homoerotic to getting bound, bashed, and carved up by 2 black guys in his hotel room. I’m guessing the severe facial scarring wasn’t part of the deal?
Also, does Matthew McConaughey have a nudity clause built into his contract or something? I saw his bare arse in Killer Joe, too. We get it. You’re proud of your body. Enough.
John Cusack does not fit his role at all. I just don’t really buy him as the monster he’s supposed to be. He’s not a racist, raping, swamp dweller to me.
Charlotte gives in to staying with him too easily.
The peeing scene seems to be slipped in just for controversy. The scene itself is just another notch on Charlotte’s cock-teasing belt, then a swarm of wild jellyfish appear. Wat?
Oh, and if Yardley never got proof from the golf course to verify Hillary’s alibi, how did Hillary get released? Unless I missed something, I don’t see how a single newspaper article would be enough to release a death row inmate. Please correct me if I’m wrong.
But seriously, wow, what a movie. It’s Oscar Bait if Oscar Bait knew how to be fun. The Paperboy is a good time that you won’t feel ashamed telling your hipster friends you watched. It’s not shit. 4 out of 5 stars.