Wednesday, 16 January 2013

No.63 : The Paperboy

The Paperboy on IMDb

Video games have rarely provided fertile ground for moviemakers but I have to say I was excited by the prospect of this 80’s classic coming to the silver screen. Alas they decided to do away with the whole notion of delivering papers and avoiding swarms of bees in favour of having a murder mystery in the 1960s.

We open with a present day Macy Gray talking to a reporter. The reporter is interested in events from 1969 which evolved around a celebrated murder case which has recently resurfaced due to a new book. After this brief preamble we are transported back in time to see events unfold with Macy’s voice occasionally appearing to explain stuff that isn’t clear from the script or direction.

Matthew McConaughey is a Miami newspaper reporter who along with his black writing parter and brother, Zac Efron, are sniffing about a murder case that sees a man on death row. The murder victim was the local racist sheriff and they wonder if the case is sound. They are soon joined by trailer trash Nicole Kidman who is convinced of the man’s innocence and who has done her own research which mainly consisted of sending him smutty letters.

The happy troupe seem to enjoy unlimited access to the murderer, who is played with twitchy mania by John Cusack. Early visits don’t go well with the two would be lovers spending their time getting off as Nicole displays her pink panties. For unclear reasons Zac falls in love with Nicole while the two reporters start to fall out.

In the sultry heat we learn that they all have secrets and agendas but soon the case begins to unravel with the flimsy new evidence springing Cusack who wastes no time in making good on his dirty talk with Nicole. With all our protagonists lacking something they want, or regretting not being careful about what they wished for, we have to see if anyone will get a happy ending.

This is a strange sort of film. It opens like it’s going to be about crusading journalism set against the racial tensions of the south, but it plays out as a bunch of big names overacting while raiding the dressing up box.

The main question is one of motivation - why is anyone doing anything that they set out to do? Redneck scumbag Cusack may be innocent, and of course the crusading journalist can’t walk away just because he jerks off a lot, but couldn’t they find a more worthwhile cause? Trashy Nicole is clearly shown to be a victim herself but her attraction to Cusack doesn’t convince. Their ‘love’ scene is as grubby as you get although it does beggar belief that a death row inmate won’t even take off his lady’s bra once he is sprung.

Zac tries hard to look lovelorn, but the clearly nuts Nicole doesn’t merit his attentions and Matthew’s character arc, that sees him go from campaigning journalist to Captain Hook in five minutes, is patently ridiculous.

The acting is uniformly awful with Macy Gray possibly the worst as the downtrodden housemaid who later recollects the tale. It is close though, with several career worst showings in place.

There are some things to like however. The sweaty and humid setting is great and although it doesn’t quite match ‘Body Heat’ you do feel like a cold shower afterwards. That may be down to some of the scenes however which see a masturbation contest, Nicole pissing on Zac after a jellyfish sting, Matthew on the bog and rough sex involving a twin tub washing machine.

For its earnest subject matter the dialogue was all over the place as were the accents. “If anyone’s gonna piss on him I will” cries Nicole as she remembers she used to get Oscar nods.

It was quite fun, but not in the way that was intended, which in many ways makes it more of a pleasure.

THE Tag Line : Fails to Deliver 62%

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