Sunday, January 24, 2016

The Paperboy

   Matthew McConaughey, Nicole Kidman, and John Cusack in a lurid pulpy mystery flick? Yes please! Oh and, this most importantly stars Zac Efron. Hot damn can this guy act. If he ever wanted to leave his Disney roots in the past, this is definitely the kind of role to take. What's even better is that he's damn good at it too. The Paperboy is a fairly unfocused movie, and my even telling you what it's about won't do you much good. It's better to talk about this movie by it's content, and it's mood. The story, in my opinion, was very much secondary to the characters in it. It was very engaging, watching these characters do their thing, but after a point, the story ultimately gets lost in the hustle of the movie.

  The Paperboy is a violent and dirty movie, but not a gratuitous one. It's characters are flawed and unique, and fun to watch in a seedy sort of way. It's an interesting slice of entertainment, and one that kept my attention throughout. It feels like an old dime store pulp-crime novel come to life. There's sex, murder, fetishes, criminals, reporters, a story to uncover- and all set in the searing heat of a small town in Florida. As the plot finally finds it's way to having all the main characters present, you can kinda see where the story is going- but even then, it's not the easiest movie to predict. So, I surrendered myself to experience and just went along for the ride.

  It's a crazy ride. John Cusack plays a villainous type and for the role he's donned a thick accent complete with a slow drawl. It's delightfully vile. I loved it. Nicole Kidman went full 'trailer trash' for her role here. She dove into this performance and it shows. She's great in this, and I'm not normally a huge fan of hers. Matthew McConaughey is also great, this is just another credit on his filmography now full of movies to be taken seriously. This is no rom-com, and no lighthearted adventure flick- The Paperboy is dark and grim, and runs on a fuel reserved for the pulpiest sort of stories. It's also frequently stylish and full of interesting cinematography, which helped it a lot I think.

  In lesser hands this movie would've been nothing remarkable, and as is I'm still not sure it's even 'good', but it sure was entertaining. It's a lurid ill-fated romance story, with prisons, criminals, and a murder in the mix. I enjoyed it's energetic pace and it's interesting characters- but I don't think the movie was more than the sum of it's parts. It wasn't bad, but it wasn't great. It was just sorta... there. There's great performances, and pieces of a great story, but something about it wasn't cohesive enough to me. As if the parts of the movie itself were as rough and dirty as the content it has on display. That's not necessarily a good thing.

  The one thing above all I think the movie was lacking was focus. You weren't sure whose movie it really was until 3/4th's through. I think that hampers the movie from being a better film. More than not putting a leading main character forward right away, the story itself also takes it's time focusing on a specific plot. Once you get interested and invested in one plot, it shifts focus onto a different aspect. It could've just been trying my patience, or my attention could've been wandering, but I wasn't fond of the way the story unfolded. I would've preferred a more straightforward storytelling structure. I think it would've made the movie easier to watch. Thankfully, most of that nonsense dissipates about half an hour into the movie.

  There's a lot of lurid craziness here, with violence, sexuality, and all kinds of criminal stuff- but it all rides on a weak and ultimately uninteresting story. This movie is fun to watch, until you realize you don't care as much about what's actually happening as you for the characters it's happening to. So, no... it's not a good movie. It's okay, it's engaging and even energetic at times, and filled with memorable performances and scenes, but what does it all amount to? Not much. There's not many likable characters in the movie, and the story won't grab you all that much, but the style and the acting is fantastic. So, you could do worse for a little pulp nonsense, but make no mistake... you could do better too.

  As for me, I'll be paying closer attention to Zac Efron's career. I hope he gets more interesting roles in the future. Now if you'll excuse me, I've got a mountain of crappy sci-fi movies I've been neglecting.

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