I cannot recommend “The Paperboy,” unless you like movies with scummy characters; I left the theater with my mind needing a shower. For the third time this year, Matthew McConaughey bares his body – enough already. Nicole Kidman’s and John Cusack’s characters were disgusting, leaving me wondering how these actors could have possibly enjoyed making this movie. Were they bored? Did they need the money that badly? Why on earth would they degrade their craft for these roles – just to show they could? Macy Gray and Zac Efron played the only characters with any redeeming qualities. “The Paperboy” has raw sex, racial tension, family dysfunction, and the baseness of swamp life; it is not a pleasant movie…
Ward Jansen (McConaughey) is a Miami reporter who returns to his hometown, where his father (Scott Glen) is the editor of the local newspaper and his 20-year-old brother, Jack (Efron), delivers the papers. Ward is returning temporarily in order to cover the story of a death-row inmate, Hillary Van Wetter (Cusack), who may be innocent, according to his penpal/girlfriend, Charlotte Bless (Kidman). Charlotte, Ward, and Yardley Acheman (David Oyelowo), Ward’s reporting and down-low buddy, set up an office in the Jansen’s unairconditioned garage.
Jack, besides becoming Ward’s driver/gopher, immediately falls in love with raunchy Charlotte and in resentment with Acheman, who he has no idea is more than a colleague. He lives with his dad and dad’s witchy girlfriend, Ellen (Nealla Gordon), who is a female jerk to their long time maid, Anita (Macy Gray). Anita has become a surrogate mother to Jack, whose real mother took off years earlier.
After a meeting with Hillary at the prison, Ward and Jack go into the swamp to talk with Hillary’s uncle, Tyree Van Wetter (Ned Bellamy) about confirming that the two men were together on the night that the local sheriff was killed years earlier. Tyree reluctantly and sideways tells Ward that they were stealing sod from a golf course to sell to wholesalers. The next day Charlotte and Yardley drive around trying to find the golf course and a groundskeeper or the like who could confirm that the theft had occurred. They return late and sated with good news. Yardley goes back to Miami and the story of Hillary’s innocence is published without Ward’s consent. Ward does not believe the story, because Yardley will not name his source. Suspecting that Charlotte screwed Yardley to get him to lie, Ward confronts her and then gets drunk and abused by two guys in a motel room. Jack rescues his brother and gets him to the hospital.
While Ward is recuperating, Hillary is released and takes a very reluctant Charlotte to his house in the swamp. During their father’s wedding to Ellen, Ward and Jack take off to retrieve Charlotte from Hillary’s murderous hands, but it is too late and Ward is killed in the attempt…
There are those who will review this movie as being about the truth of life nowadays. However, this film takes place twenty or thirty years ago and just because there are still depraved human beings existing today does not mean that we need them shoved in our faces. We go to the movies to be entertained, to escape from reality, and to keep hope alive within us that things will get better, that good triumphs over bad, and that we do have redeeming qualities. If we want to see the seedy side of life, we can visit many places around the world and within almost every city in this country to experience them first hand. No thank you.
Rating: 2 out of 5 stars.