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Poster of The Paperboy   (2012)

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.

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The Paperboy (2012)

a Millennium Films, Nu Image / Millennium Films and Lee Daniels Entertainment Production in USA

STARS Zac Efron Matthew McConaughey Nicole Kidman John Cusack David Oyelowo Scott Glenn Ned Bellamy Nealla Gordon Macy Gray Edrick Browne Kevin Waterman Danny Hanemann Peter Murnik John P. Fertitta Jay Oliver

Drama | Thriller

Rated R

View the Trailer

Sexy, Sex and Nude Scenes

A man and woman are seen having sex in the back seat of a car. Moans are heard but nothing too graphic is shown. We see his butt.

A woman wearing pantyhose over her panties pulls up her dress to reveal her crotch to a man. He tells her to rip open her pantyhose and there is a close-up of her panties.

A woman mimes oral sex for a man. It is shown that he has ejaculated in his pants. Another man covers his crotch to hide his erection at this scene.

A woman urinates on a man after he is stung by jellyfish. Her genitals are not shown.

A man is shown naked, hog tied on the floor of a hotel room. His buttocks are clearly seen and a part of his penis.

A man and woman have sex. Not much is seen.

A man is on the toilet naked. We don't see any private parts, but we do see his buttocks.

A man and woman have rough and violent sex in an extended scene that lasts a number of minutes. No female nudity is shown but the man's buttocks are visible. This scene also includes multiple shots of the man performing oral sex on the female, but we only see his head near the woman's crotch. The man is strangling the women as he performs oral sex.

The main character is seen only wearing his underwear on repeated occasions. In one scene he jokes to the maid about himself "jerking off" while he's in his underwear. The maid lies on the floor and imitates the young man masturbating. Nothing sexual is seen and the scene is portrayed as comic rather than erotic.

Much sexually explicit dialogue is used throughout the film.

Violent and Bloody Scenes

A man is seen being stabbed. He is later shown lying on the ground with his intestines lying beside him.

A man cuts open an alligator and its insides are seen spilling out onto the ground. Very graphic.

A man is stung multiple times by jellyfish and the wounds are seen up close.

A man is seen hogtied with visible wounds on his buttocks. His face is bleeding profusely and he is surrounded by blood. The aftereffects of this are shown multiple times and the man has permanent scarring.

A man has his throat cut with a machete and a lot of blood spews out.

A woman is seen dead with blood coming out of her nose.

Two dead bodies are seen in a boat.

Scary and Disturbing Scenes

The scene where the dead alligator is cut open is very graphic and detailed. Definitely an intense scene.


The Paperboy is one of those films that has a fine cast, a director with a track record (Lee Daniels, Oscar nominated for Precious) and an interesting plot, but will be rarely seen and largely forgotten by year's end. Sometimes there is no justice in the film world; just ask Ben Affleck about being overlooked by AMPAS as Best Director this year for Argo.

It's well performed, directed with few flaws and the cinematography hits the spot perfectly, but the trouble is, in terms of ratings, that it isn't easy to sell. Essentially, The Paperboy is a dialogue-driven film about an idealistic reporter, Ward Jansen (Mathew McConaughey), who returns to his hometown in the backwaters of the red-necked American south to investigate the conviction of a man on death row convicted of murdering a sheriff. When Charlotte Bless (Nicole Kidman), the infatuated pen-friend of Hillary Van Wetter (John Cusack), the murderer in question, approaches Ward for help, he recruits his bother Jack (Zac Efron) and colleague Yardley (David Oyelowo) and sets about investigating ineptitude and corruption surrounding the case.

It isn't a pretty story, it doesn't race along at breakneck speed and it isn't a film that haunts the viewer long after the credits have rolled. It is, however, a thoroughly enjoyable tale that meanders through some murky and terrible swamps, both literal and metaphorical, and will satisfy those with a penchant for the underbelly of society.

Based on a true story and one from the official selection for Cannes 2012, The Paperboy is a dark story that at times is very unpleasant. It goes to places you almost certainly want to avoid in your life. There are no sweet and lovely two-dimensional characters here but 'regular Joes' with twists in their psyches and the relationships between the principal four keeps us on our toes. Each has secrets or sides to their characters they try to hide and each is capable of damaging another willfully and yielding or ignoring their conscience after the event in their own self-harming manner.

Efron shows signs of shaking off his teenybopper roots and it is encouraging to see him take a long and effective step away from such pulp as last year's predictable The Lucky One. At last we see something of a character developing from him, and Jack's relationship with the maid, Anita (Macy Gray), who also narrates much of the story, gives a hint of warmth to an otherwise cold and twisted collection of characters.

Both McConaughey and Kidman stepped away from the 'beautiful' roles sometime ago, though there is still a feeling of them playing 'against type' here, which isn't fair as both are very fine actors with some startling performances in recent years. Here they allow themselves to be engulfed by the perversions of their roles and are eminently watchable though you wouldn't much 'alone time' with either of them. Gray is overlooked largely and, though her Anita is supposed to be the all-seeing character that fills in the gaps for us, she feel inconsequential much of the time.

It is Cusack that startles most of all here. He often frustrates as a fine actor in turkeys (Hot Tub Time Machine, The Raven) and then blindsides us with another performance we've been desperately hoping for. As Hilary he initially causes reserved sympathy from us as he stumbles into the scene disheveled and emotionally crushed. We can almost smell the grease in his hair and his fetid breath and recoil at the thought of Charlotte sharing anything more than a letter with him. But he evolves and repulses as The Paperboy unfolds in a performance every bit the antitheses of his signature role, Martin Q. Blank, but equally memorable. Whilst an unpleasant character with whom to share time, the performance is absorbing. Just please don't let this be the last time we enjoy Cusack for another five years.

Daniels has crafted a film of relationships with confused issues. Life isn't always clear-cut and often it is just plain dirty. Though less successful, financially, than Precious, The Paperboy is a far more mature film with a great deal more flare. Although Daniels hasn't had the courage to shoot it entirely in the style of the period, there are enough references to the late sixties and seventies with split screens and flares to transport us back the era of segregation and Tarantino's favourite word.

It won't last long at the box office, but The Paperboy is a DVD treat for an evening that calls for something more than schmaltz or easy laughs and requires some emotional investment.

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