Elizabeth (spoilers! – but you shouldn’t care)
Nicole Kidman squats above Zac Efron and pisses on him. Pees on him. Urinates on him. That is a real thing that happens in this movie. And it’s not supposed to be funny, and it actually isn’t, because it’s so unbelievably bizarre. And that’s kind of The Paperboy in a nutshell, except you have to add that it’s also amazingly terrible.
Macy Gray narrates the story for reasons that are never quite clear. And when I say narrate, I mean she lets us know what is going on because the movie is incapable of doing that itself. After the above scene, when Charlotte (Nicole Kidman) mimes a blowjob to her inmate boyfriend, Hillary (John Cusack), Macy Gray has the following to say about Jack (Zac Efron), who is I guess in love with Charlotte, “Jack couldn’t believe he still loved her after what he saw.” Thanks for letting us know! It’s probably true that Zac Efron is incapable of displaying that concept through acting, anyway.
Describing the plot would be pointless, because not only is it nearly impossible to follow, but the filmmakers clearly don’t care about the plot, either. Here are some highlights:
- David Oyelowo plays Yardley, an American black man pretending to be British because he believes it’s the only way Americans will respect him (the movie takes place in 1969 for no reason)
- Matthew McConaughey plays Ward, who is secretly gay and also secretly into black men. His face his scarred for unexplained reasons, and then he is brutally beaten and raped by two black men (although, let’s face it, they show his ass a lot and it’s in pretty pristine condition for a male rape victim) which causes more scarring and a lost eye, and then his throat is cut with a machete by Hillary
- Jack gets stung by a bunch of jellyfish and has an allergic reaction, but when some girls on the beach suggest they urinate on him to help, Charlotte threatens them until they leave. Then she squats over him herself, pees, and then the scene ends. Jack is completely cured and scar-free for the rest of the movie and the incident is briefly mentioned again maybe one or two times
- Yardley and Ward are desperately trying to prove Hillary’s innocence in the case of a murdered sheriff, even though he is clearly psychotic. When Yardley fabricates a story that supposedly has evidence (an unnamed source saying he saw Hillary on a golf course the night of the murder) that proves Hillary’s innocence, the governor of Florida pardons Hillary. Hillary promptly goes to Charlotte, kind of rapes her (it’s complicated, trust me), and then takes her back to his family’s house in the middle-of-nowhere, marshy Florida, and then eventually murders her (and Ward)
Those plot points are muddled within a movie of barely-audible dialog (via Macy Gray and horrible accents), racist, sexist melodrama, and incomprehensible turns of events. Apparently it got a 16-minute standing ovation at Cannes, which makes me think they were either watching a completely different version of the movie, or they were all high out of their minds.
The Paperboy puts on an act that makes you feel like it knows what it’s doing when in fact that could not be further from the truth. The truth is that this film has absolutely no purpose. The main plot is to figure out who killed a sheriff, I think, but that never gets resolved. The only thing worse than trying to figure out the story is trying to figure out how the characters relate to each other and what exactly their motives are.
Zac Efron, a paperboy, and Matthew McConaughey, a writer for the Miami Times, are brothers. McConaughey is staying in his parents’ house while he investigates the murder of a sheriff. John Cusack is the supposed murderer of this sheriff. Nicole Kidman is John Cusack’s pen pal lover. Now it is unclear why McConaughey wants to prove Cusack’s innocence; the main reason this is unclear is because of Cusack’s obvious psychopathic tendencies. But anyway, McConaughey tries his best and he does succeed, I think? Cusack’s release from jail is only mentioned in a voiceover.
This film does touch on some important matters though: racial tension of the 1960s (that’s when the film takes place for some reason), homosexuality in the 1960s, mixed racial homosexuality in the 1960s, and rape during the 1960s. This film does raise more questions than it answers but it’s definitely worth watching. Mainly to ponder how the director convinced so many actors to be in this movie! Oh except that this film was directed by the same guy that directed Precious, Lee Daniels! Sorry everyone for being tricked that this might be half as good.