This is just one of those films that looks good from the outset – sleek vintage marketing, strong promising plot line, a cast of mostly credible actors. On paper, this looks like it could really be a solid flick – as long as you’re willing to look past the poor IMDb score.
The film just fills you with confidence – it lures you into it’s cosy domain with promises of sweet strawberry cheesecake, and when you’re finally in it’s lair, it cracks you over the head with a large rock and force feeds you dry muesli for two hours.
This film is the equivalent to eating dry muesli for two hours. This is bad news, because as we all know – muesli is objectively bad.
The film sets us up in Florida, following two brothers; Jack Jansen (Zac Efron) and Ward Jansen (Matthew McConaughey) as they attempt to prove the innocence of a man on death row. They are aided by Charlotte Bless (Nicole Kidman) a beautiful blonde hick who is in love with the defendant. If you’re worried about this review containing any spoilers, don’t worry; it’s 100% spoiler-free, but that’s only because there is no bloody plot for this review to spoil.
The story is basically just a bunch of semi-related sub-plots thrown clumsily together, with no tight story arc holding them together as one. It’s absurdly difficult to follow the somewhat basic story because the film does everything it possibly can to distract you – the editing is choppy and as a result it’s hard to tell how much time has passed between scenes, sometimes it’s even difficult to tell if the scene has even changed.
The character’s are all hand-picked from the “Book of 1960’s Suburban America clichés” – specifically from the “Crazy Hill billy” chapter.
Honestly, there’s really not much to say about them – which is completely hysterical considering this is supposed to be a character study. Yeah, okay, they might all have crazy quirky personalities, but that’s not strong characterisation. We get almost no back story for any of them, and consequently it’s seriously hard to give a shit about any of them. Even when the really shocking dramatic stuff starts happening, it’s hard to care, and that’s truly insane because the shocking and dramatic stuff that happens, is unbelievably shocking and dramatic.
Shocking the audience is what The Paperboy does best. It really is the films saving grace, because if it were not for these moments, you would forget the film as soon as the credits begin to roll. To be perfectly honest, the scenes aren’t even that bad, it’s just they come out of absolutely nowhere with no warning. Some are genuinely quite tragic, and will leave you feeling physically sick, which would have been extremely powerful if we could actually relate to the characters. As it stands it’s like trying to feel sorry for a sofa because a fat guy sat on it.
The film is just disappointing, as it had the potential to be so much more. There is definitely a decent story somewhere in there, and the performances are top-notch. It’s just a shame these little bites of sweet strawberry cheesecake are scattered amongst an ocean’s worth of muesli. If you’re willing to eat through the muesli to get to the cake, more power to you, I just hope you have a strong stomach.
Verdict: Like waking up after a serious night out and not being that hungover (5/10)
My face when watching: