The new Nicole Kidman-Matthew McConaughey movie "The Paperboy" premiered at the New York Film Festival last week, and opens wide theatrically this week. NY1's Neil Rosen filed the following review.
For his latest film "The Paperboy," director Lee Daniels, who was nominated for an Oscar for his 2009 movie "Precious," now returns with an all-star cast.
The story, set in the 1960s, has Zac Efron return to his home in a small Florida swamp town after being thrown out of college. He starts following around his older brother, played by Matthew McConaughey, who's an investigative reporter.
McConaughey wants to do an expose on a prisoner, played by John Cusack, who he thinks may have been falsely accused of killing a local sheriff.
Also in the mix is Nicole Kidman, playing a trampy, good-time girl who has a thing for convicts and is engaged to Cusack's character.
There's also Efron's relationship with his family's long-time housekeeper, played by Macy Gray.
The movie looks at race relations in this backwater town during the Civil Rights era and it's also one part crime thriller. There's a steamy gratuitous sex scene that features Kidman and there's too many needless shots of Efron in his underwear.
Daniels' screenplay is a mess. It has almost no coherence and is often ridiculous. Kidman is required to urinate on Efron to alleviate a jellyfish sting. The scene is completely unnecessary to the story and seems to be there for either camp or shock value. Either way, it fails on both levels.
The dialogue is also simply awful. Cusack and Kidman give it a shot with their fake southern accents, but they, along with everyone else in the cast, are defeated by the horrendous material.
It seems that Daniels, riding high on the success of "Precious," doesn't know quite what to do with his bigger budget and higher profile actors. Whatever this film is attempting to do, it fails miserably. On any level, "The Paperboy" doesn't deliver.
Neil Rosen's Big Apple Rating: 1 Apple