The Paperboy (2012) - Rotten Tomatoes

The Paperboy (2012)



Critic Consensus: Trashy and melodramatic, The Paperboy is enlivened by a strong cast and a steamy, sordid plot, but it's uneven and often veers into camp.

Movie Info

A sexually and racially charged film noir from Oscar-nominated director Lee Daniels (Precious), The Paperboy takes audiences deep into the backwaters of steamy 1960s South Florida, as investigative reporter Ward Jansen (Matthew McConaughey) and his partner Yardley Acheman (David Oyelowo) chase a sensational, career-making story. With the help of Ward's younger brother Jack (Zac Efron) and sultry death-row groupie Charlotte Bless (Nicole Kidman), the pair tries to prove violent swamp-dweller Hillary Van Wetter (John Cusack) was framed for the murder of a corrupt local sheriff. Based on the provocative bestselling novel by Pete Dexter (Mulholland Falls, Rush), The Paperboy peels back a sleepy small town's decades-old façade of Southern gentility to reveal a quagmire of evil as dark as a Florida bayou. -- (C) Official Sitemore
Rating: R (for strong sexual content, violence and language)
Genre: Drama
Directed By:
Written By: Pete Dexter, Peter Dexter, Lee Daniels
In Theaters:
On DVD: Jan 22, 2013
Box Office: $0.7M
Millenium Films - Official Site


Zac Efron
as Jack Jansen
Nicole Kidman
as Charlotte Bless
John Cusack
as Hillary Van Wetter
David Oyelowo
as Yardley Acheman
Scott Glenn
as W.W. Jansen
Macy Gray
as Anita
Ned Bellamy
as Tyree Van Wetter
Nealla Gordon
as Ellen Guthrie
Edrick Browne
as Hustler #1
Danny Hanemann
as Sheriff Thurmond Cal...
Peter Murnik
as Death Row Guard
John P. Fertitta
as Sam Ellison
James Oliver
as Mr. Guthrie/Wedding ...
Gary Clarke
as Weldon Pine
J.D. Evermore
as Gate Guard
Rene Piazza
as Kitchen Supervisor
Paul Michael-Fisher
as Wedding Photographer
Lydia Rooks
as Charlotte Girlfriend...
Nicole Barré
as Charlotte Girlfriend...
Camille Balsamo
as Pam/Beach Girl #1
Leslie Hippensteel
as Kim/Beach Girl #2
Grace Hightower
as Yardley's Girlfriend
Laurie Chilcoat
as Wedding Singer
Carmen Barika
as Singer #2
Nicole Porche
as Singer #3
Faizon Love
as Comedian
Rahsaana Ison
as Lady in Bar
Corrina Lyons
as Cousin Alice
John Thompson
as Interviewer
Show More Cast

News & Interviews for The Paperboy

Critic Reviews for The Paperboy

All Critics (138) | Top Critics (38)

There's something undeniably compelling about the cast's daringly go-for-broke performances... but Daniels fragments the narrative and throws in so many tricksy directorial touches that the whole thing becomes an annoyingly indulgent mess.

Full Review… | August 4, 2013
Movie Talk

The sweaty, lurid, self-serious nonsense is hard to take seriously, but I'll say this much for the film: it ain't boring. 

Full Review… | July 21, 2013

I'll just get it out of the way now: The Paperboy is unbelievably awful.

Full Review… | June 28, 2013
Film Comment Magazine

If you're bothered by frequent utterances of the "N-word" and the sight of Kidman spreading her talent - and her gams - wider than Sharon Stone in 'Basic Instinct,' you're gonna wanna look away from this sick, sizzling display.

Full Review… | May 26, 2013
The Patriot Ledger

While there's much here about family loyalty and a 'don't mess with the swamp' aspect, Daniels' film has nevertheless been most discussed for its sex stuff, with every character having some sleazy secret or a scene devoted to their raunchy pleasure.

Full Review… | May 2, 2013

A seething, swampy murder investigation infused with the sweaty smell of bodies and driven by a casual force that is seductively unstable, darkly funny and strangely exhilarating. Daniels is a visionary.

Full Review… | April 23, 2013

Audience Reviews for The Paperboy


Almost X rated - lots of graphic sex and violence. This is a very dark film, with people making terrible, tragic choices. Cusak, and McConaughey, were excellent....but, even great acting couldn't make all the ugliness worthwhile for me, or save a pointless script.

Cynthia S.

Super Reviewer


Set in the Jim Crow south during the civil rights movement, this lurid melodrama follows a college dropout as he helps his journalist brother investigate the case of a man who may have been wrongfully imprisoned; a strange love triangle heats up when he falls for the accused's nymphomaniacal death-row-groupie fiancee. The word "trashy" was invented for stories like this; it's as much fun as a stolen hump in the backseat of a 1965 Chevy Impala.

Greg S

Super Reviewer

The movie begins on a promising note. I felt like it'd be a good thriller drama about a newspaper family conducting an investigation whether a convict on a death row deserves it. But it doesn't take long for the drama and thrills to fall into the contemporaries. The performances are excellent, though. Otherwise, just another movie based on a novel. I now understand why it's rated 6 on IMDb.

* Make do with the linguistic mistakes. I MAY rewrite it properly in leisure.

familiar stranger

Super Reviewer

The Paperboy Quotes

Ward Jansen: Better be late and be right than be first and be wrong... boy!
– Submitted by Rafael M (3 years ago)
Yardley Acheman: I'm sweating like a pregnant nun back here.
– Submitted by Pizzahut M (3 years ago)
Yardley Acheman: You put your eyes on me again I will mess you up!
– Submitted by Chris P (3 years ago)
Charlotte Bless: If anyone's gonna pee on him, it's gonna be me.
– Submitted by Norman K (3 years ago)

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