Missed Delivery: The Paperboy plays at hardcore, to demoralizing results.
Thursday, October 11, 2012
Openly anti-Semitic homophobic, misogynist and racist, there’s something to offend nearly everyone in this wrongheaded ’60s era sexploitation misadventure. Pete Dexter’s pulp novel Paris Trout – about some of the dumbest fictional characters ever imagined – finds confused cinematic fulfillment in the hands of director/co-screenwriter Lee Daniels (Precious). Daniels draws from an incongruent batch of ’70s films (Deliverance included) to create a fantasy hodgepodge drama calculated to shock, disgust and arouse the viewer.
Zac Ephron continues to bring the kiss of death to every film he appears in – this time as Jack Jansen, a twentysomething beefcake dilettante who returns to his small-town Florida roots after being thrown out of college. It’s the summer of ’69. The eternally horny Jack likes to lay around his family home in his tighty whities to see what kind of rise he can get out of housekeeper Anita (Macy Gray). Anita does narration duties to instill the movie with an illogical bird’s-eye narrative perspective and informs the audience about the murder of the town’s sheriff.
Enter Jack’s older brother Ward (Matthew McConaughey), a Miami reporter for the family newspaper. Ward brings with him his equally horny African-American colleague Yardley (David Oyelowo). Yardley speaks with a fake British accent that serves to draw more attention to the film’s purely fictional underpinnings. The duo is in town to investigate questions surrounding the murder, allegedly by one Hillary Van Wetter (John Cusack), a swamp-living piece of white trash who has been keeping busy in prison writing love letters to Nicole Kidman’s Charlotte Bless – horny, natch. Ward, Jack, Yardley and Charlotte team up to prove Hillary’s innocence that he might be freed to pursue a (cough) relationship with Charlotte.
The movie plays its salacious trump cards during a few waywardly erotic scenes. The first arrives on the group’s initial visit to Hillary in jail. Not minding an audience, Hillary instigates a simultaneous masturbation session with Charlotte who has conveniently worn a super-short skirt to the appointment. She tears open her pantyhose at the crotch to reveal her womanhood for Hillary to openly pleasure himself.
A visit to the beach for Jack and Charlotte turns into an excuse for some gratuitous fetish play after Jack suffers multiple jellyfish stings. Charlotte fights off a trio of local girls for the right to pee on the wounds that cover his chest, back, and – you guessed it – his face.
Every character on display is an artificial construct of vaguely pornographic intent. The Paperboy wants to be a hardcore porn movie. The film could conceivably have been made into an interesting example of Hollywood A-list actors creating a new genre of reverse crossover porn. As a curiosity, The Paperboy reaches for a cult status that it is sure to achieve.
THE PAPERBOY (1½) • Directed by Lee Daniels • Starring Zac Ephron, Matthew McConaughey, Nicole Kidman, John Cusack • Rated R •107 min • At Osio Cinemas