2016.64: The Paperboy (Film Four, HD)
I haven’t the foggiest. It suckered me in with the cast and by the time I realised what I was watching I decided to just grit my teeth and see it out to the bitter end. One of the most bizarre films I have seen in many a moon, this seedy tale of southern guilt/ pleasures/ secrets is told by Macy Gray (!) in flashbacks to 1969. Trailer trash Nicole Kidman (!) has fallen in love with prison pen pal John Cusack (!) and enlists the help of idealistic journalist Matthew McConaughey (!) to find evidence to ensure the wronged convicts release from his trumped-up murder charge before he fries on the electric chair. The journalists younger brother Zac Efron (!) insists on wearing very little other than tight undies and becomes infatuated with Kidman. McConaughey isn’t bothered by Kidman’s sultry charms as he’s more interested in black men, a particular guilty secret that leads to no good as even as late as 1969 the swinging sixties haven’t really arrived in the Deep South. Oh, did I mention that McConaughey’s sidekick is David Oyelowo? Or that there’s a beach scene in which Kidman pisses over Efron to save his life?
Really, this is one of those brilliantly bad film disasters that has you wondering if it will be quickly forgotten or maybe turn into a cult classic in twenty years. I remember I used to think LifeForce was terrible- well it is a bad film but it’s turned into one of my favourite guilty pleasures, so maybe The Paperboy will work similar magic on audiences over the years.But not me, I’m sure.
It’s a bewildering, crazy film. A drinking game in which you take a shot whenever Efron slips down to just his indies would have you unconscious midway through the film. Not being judgemental, but I bet this film has a huge gay following. I guess I should think it’s novel and refreshing to see a film that is more interested in a guys body rather than that of its female star, but it’s really quite surreal.
Indeed it’s weird how the film turns from an investigative mystery, into a coming of age story, then a social commentary on racism in the South, then a film about sexual guilt, then finally a full-on horror slasher flick in its finale. Its clearly a sign of a film that doesn’t know what it is. All I know is it is truly, truly bad, but strangely worth watching if only for the bizarre experience of watching something just so thoroughly odd with such an A-list cast slumming in it. Utterly mad.