The Paperboy is the story of… Now, I’m not quite sure which story is the central one… There’s a prisoner, a black/English/reporter working for a Miami newspaper and two brothers who’s father runs a small newspaper in the middle of Florida. The older brother and the English dude are contacted by a woman who is sure the inmate with which she’s fallen in love, is innocent. The woman is played by Nicole Kidman – the inmate is played by John Cusack. The rest of it unfolds in a very bizarre way. P. S. The story is narrated by the family’s maid who is played by Macy Gray. Here we go…

Story: The setting is pretty rural and the story takes place in 1969, so, we know what kind of behavior to expect. The writer did a good job of capturing the rural south in 1969 and identifying the classes to expect in everglades country. There are rich southern people who act entitled… hillbillies in the swamps… typical politicians and law enforcement for the place and time and an English guy who sticks out like a sore thumb regardless of the fact that he’s black. This film is a lot to deal with…

Naturally, the younger brother – who serves as his brother’s and the Englishmen’s driver – falls for Nicole Kidman’s character. But, she is only intent to be with the prisoner. FYI – He’s from the swamp.

I found myself endeared by some of the characters individually, but, the ending of this film is plain stupid. The relationship between the younger brother and the maid is sweet, but, the maid is treated like a servant by the father and his latest girlfriend/wife. None of the other relationships have any chemistry or make any sense.

Performances: I’ve given a bit of a snapshot into the characters, but, here’s a bit more. Nicole Kidman as Charlotte Bless was nominated for a Golden Globe. I agree with that. Charlotte was the most developed of all the characters. Also, Macy Gray as the maid Anita and Zac Efron as the younger brother Jack had a great dynamic. They were as expected – She had cared for him from the time he was five and now he’s an adult. It was a classic substitute mother/son relationship and it was sweet.

The other characters weren’t really of note. Matthew McConaughey played the older brother Ward, but, made very little impact and the English guy… ???

Visual: I guess this is the standout for this film. It looked like 1969. The costumes were exact for the time and the dialogue was too. The backdrop of the rural south was clear, but the one thing that really hooked me was the cars. I’ma car guy, so, when Jack rolled up to the bus station in a 1964 Buick Riviera, I was in heaven. He also had the pleasure of driving what looked like a 1966 Chevrolet Impala. And all of the other cars were spot-on as well. Made the movie for me. What does that say about this movie?

Rating: The Paperboy gets a C- from me. When I first saw this film in theatres, I was exited and couldn’t wait to see it. Kudos to Lee Daniels for directing a great trailer… But, I was disappointed upon viewing. I still have mixed feelings about this because I wanted to like it. But, I’m having trouble reconciling its quality. It was dirty and sweaty and inappropriate and while sometimes that can be good, it isn’t in this case.

If you decide to see this, be prepared to be uncomfortable and possibly repulsed. Clearly from this review, it caused a reaction in me – make what you will of that. It’s on DVD now and I think that’s where it belongs…