The Paperboy


The Paperboy

Critics 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.



Total Count: 146


Audience Score

User Ratings: 17,118
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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 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 Call
Peter Murnik
as Death Row Guard
John P. Fertitta
as Sam Ellison
James Oliver
as Mr. Guthrie/Wedding Guest
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 #1
Nicole Barré
as Charlotte Girlfriend #2
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
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News & Interviews for The Paperboy

Critic Reviews for The Paperboy

All Critics (146) | Top Critics (41) | Fresh (65) | Rotten (81)

  • The Paperboy is flawed, more deserving of a rubbernecking than a viewing. But it's hard to tear your eyes away.

    Mar 20, 2013 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…

    Kate Muir

    Times (UK)
    Top Critic
  • It may yet become a camp classic, if no other kind.

    Mar 15, 2013 | Rating: 2/5 | Full Review…
  • A sleazy, overstuffed and terribly directed mess. But never boring and occasionally jaw-dropping.

    Mar 14, 2013 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…
  • "The Paperboy" is one of those rare examples where you might wish the movie was less faithful to the book.

    Oct 26, 2012 | Rating: 2/4 | Full Review…

    Rafer Guzman

    Top Critic
  • Yes, it's a dizzying stew set to boil.

    Oct 19, 2012 | Rating: 2.5/4
  • The Paperboy is southern Gothic wallowing in the swamp of low camp. And if the wallowing were deliberate, this might have been hugely funny.

    Oct 19, 2012 | Rating: 2/4 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for The Paperboy

  • May 05, 2014
    In "The Paperboy," Hillary Van Wetter(John Cusack) has been wrongly convicted of murder in Florida in 1969. At least, that's what Ward(Matthew McConaughey) and his friend Yardley(David Oyelowo) want to think when they arrive in Ward's hometown to write an article about Hillary for the Miami Times. In order to get around, they hire Jack(Zac Efron), Ward's younger brother and college dropout, to drive them. Which is harder than it sounds as Jack is instantly smitten with Charlotte Bless(Nicole Kidman) who of all the convicts she has been corresponding with has taken a particular liking to Hillary. "The Paperboy" is a delirious and kinky movie that is sunbaked but never overcooked, as Lee Daniels puts his unique spin on a Tennessee Williams style melodrama. The theme of the movie is deception, as all of the characters are either deceiving themselves or somebody else, with the exception of Hillary who is quite happy with who he is, even if few other people are. This is is at a time when the old ways are giving way before the new, as one revolution is on the verge of supplanting another. And it helps that the cast is so very game, with Matthew McConaughey for the first time in a while playing a character who is not trying to be the center of attention.
    Walter M Super Reviewer
  • May 02, 2014
    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
  • Nov 02, 2013
    Impressive performances (particularly from Zac Efron and Macy Gray) and stunning photography, not to mention a sweaty, pervasive atmosphere and great locations. But the story is dull and lacks a decent hook, and the characters feel like wonderful potential unfulfilled.
    Daniel P Super Reviewer
  • Aug 28, 2013
    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

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