The Paperboy (2012)

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  •  (1.5 out of 5 stars)

Everything feels off-kilter in The Paperboy written and directed by Lee Daniels, from the ugly 16mm cinematography to the crazy editing to the performances that all seem like they're in their own movie. This follow-up to Daniels' film Precious (2009) is a head-scratching chore. Like Daniels' first movie Shadowboxer (2005), The Paperboy does have some hilariously weird scenes. Nicole Kidman literally peeing on Zac Efron to cure his jellyfish stings is a highlight. Between these weird scenes is a dull crime investigation. In the summer of '69, reporters Ward Jansen (Matthew McConaughey) and Yardley Acheman (David Oyelowo) pull into a small Florida town to try to get Hillary Van Wetter (John Cusack) off of death row. Part of the problem is that Cusack's character is completely unlikable and slimy, so you don't really want him to escape death row. Paperboy Zac Efron and Nicole Kidman get involved, but the motives are very confusing. Macy Gray plays the maid witnessing all the events, and she narrates the movie. The plot is meandering, and you can tell it is based on a novel. Pete Dexter's 1995 novel was the basis, and he apparently hated the movie. Anyone seeing this movie probably won't be coming within a mile of the book.

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