Director Lee Daniels movie the The Paperboy is a character study of the seediest of the seedy which takes place in the sweat infested Florida Everglades during the 1960’s.
A family steeped in small time journalism comes across a case that may be too hot to handle. Ward Ward (Scott Glenn) is a small time newspaperman that is content to mind his business and report only about things that don’t raise eyebrows, but when a racist sheriff is cut down in the Glades by a machete wielding maniac, his son Ward Jr. (Matthew McConaughey) and his colleague Yardley (David Oyelowo), start digging into the case. A swamp rat by the name of Hillary Van Wetter (John Cusack), who looks like the “Goon of the Black Lagoon,” has been charged with the murder, but Ward Jr. thinks that things are not as they appear to be and that Van Wetter is innocent.
Ward enlists his younger brother Jack (Zac Effron), who delivers papers (thus The Paperboy), to be the driver during the investigation and things become complicated when a sultry white-trash woman by the name of Charlotte (Nicole Kidman) shows up claiming that she is in love with Van Wetter. Charlotte is one of these nut-case women who seek romance by writing letters to people on Killer’s Row despite knowing nothing at all about them.
A series of prison interviews take place with Charlotte being the trump card to get information from the sleazy Van Wetter. Meanwhile, young Jack, who is enamored by Charlotte, becomes repulsed by the graphic mock sex scenes which take place between the prisoner and his girlfriend during the viewings and tries to convince her that the man is no good. Charlotte disagrees, but trouble is coming. The old adage “be careful what you ask for” comes into play for Charlotte when Van Wetter is released. The question concerning his innocence remains the crux of the plot.
Nicole Kidman was nominated for best supporting actress for The Paperboy by the Golden Globes (she was also nominated for best actress for a mini-series or a motion picture in HBO’s Hemmingway & Gellhorn) is outstanding as the sleazy Charlotte. The rest of the cast does a fair job, but one gets the feeling that some strong talent has been wasted in the effort. If you can handle a lot of slime, I recommend watching it.
My Rating: 3 out 5 Buckets of Gator Guts.