The Paperboy (2012)

If you create a user account, you can add your own review of this DVD

Released 28-Jun-2013

Cover Art

This review is sponsored by

Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Thriller Trailer-Rapture Palooza
Trailer-The Last Stand
Trailer-Side Effects
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2012
Running Time 102:25
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Ads Then Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Lee Daniels
Nu Image
Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Zac Efron
Matthew McConaughey
Nicole Kidman
John Cusack
David Oyelowo
Scott Glenn
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI ? Music Mario Grigorov

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
English Descriptive Audio Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.40:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

Loving him is dangerous

     Based on a novel by Pete Dexter, The Paperboy is a steamy journey through Florida swamps and American white trash culture. As directed by Lee Daniels, with Daniels and Dexter writing the screenplay, the atmosphere is sticky, cloying and disturbing. Commencing with the gruesome murder of a small-town Florida deputy one stormy night in 1969, our flashback narration commences using the vehicle of Negro maid Anita (Macy Gray) who is being questioned on her knowledge of the characters and events. Anita works for the Jansen family and has a reciprocal fondness with former swimming champion but college dropout son Jack Jansen (Zac Efron). Jack’s mother and father however are stereotypical southern folk who place “airs and graces” high on the priority list, whilst not even being sure whether Anita has children or not, despite her being an employee for many years.

     Jack’s brother Ward (Matthew McConaughey) returns home from Miami to investigate the guilt or innocence of the man convicted for the deputy’s murder. Ward is a reporter for the Miami Times newspaper who thinks that the convicted man Hillary Van Wetter (John Cusack) has been framed. Hillary is an alligator hunter from the nearby swamplands where he works with his uncle preparing hides. Accompanying Ward is fellow reporter Yardley Acheman (David Oyelowo) and the woman who wants to marry Van Wetter despite not even having met him, Charlotte Bless (Nicole Kidman). Yardley is a black man with an English accent which immediately causes problems in the insular and racist town. Bless on the other hand is a 40 something bottle-blonde bombshell who gets off on death row inmates. Bless and Van Wetter have been corresponding and so Bless accompanies Jack, Ward and Yardley when they arrange their first interview in the prison with Hillary. The man on death row is however not concerned with the three men who might be able to save him, but instead coerces Charlotte into some non-contact sex where both of them achieve satisfaction.

     Jack becomes besotted with Charlotte who is teasingly receptive but is saving her affections for Hillary. Charlotte doesn’t mind using her body to advantage but has enough fondness for Jack to not lead him on. She is twenty years older than Jack and so encourages him to find younger girls and, anyway, she and Hillary are to be married if and when he is released. Ward and Yardley find evidence corroborating Hillary’s alibi and it seems that Charlotte and Hillary’s dreams of release and marriage will be realised. The swamp home of alligator hunter Hillary beckons (not) as a matrimonial home however, and Charlotte’s obsession with Hillary has also tempered. In the meantime Ward’s dark private life is revealed, and Yardley also might be not all that he seems.

     The Paperboy oozes atmosphere and you can almost see the humidity dripping down the camera lens. In keeping with the mood Nicole Kidman puts on a steamy performance as the love-struck white-trash bimbo with a couple of memorable scenes that will stay in the mind. McConaughey is also out to prove his versatility as an actor with a polished performance that overshadows all but Cusack, who is perfectly cast as the sleazy and creepy Van Wetter. Efron spends a lot of screen time in white Y-fronts with his shirt off, but really does accredit himself pretty well and proves there is more to him than just a pretty face. Oyelowo for me was not convincing as the English journalist, but in retrospect that might have been deliberate. As far as plot devices go I didn’t think the use of Anita as a narrator was either believable or necessary. Gray’s squeaky voice was grating and she knew far more about the circumstances than was possible in her role as house maid. There are a couple of good scenes between her and Efron, but really she could easily have been relegated to a minor character which would have made more sense.

     I found The Paperboy interesting but ultimately a little shallow. Being based on a book I imagine a lot of the subtleties that would have fleshed out the character actions and thoughts were omitted for brevity. Charlotte and Jack and Ward would have had interesting back stories which we were not privy to, and which may have made their subsequent actions more involving. As a thriller The Paperboy doesn’t quite make it, but as a small expose into the dark underbelly of swamp culture then it succeeds quite well.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality


     The video is presented in 2.40:1 anamorphic enhanced widescreen. This is slightly narrower than the cinematic aspect of 2.35:1. Shot on Super 16mm film the first impression is of grain, grain, and more grain. On a big screen it looks distractingly awful with the lack of detail also leaving the colours blotchy and uneven in close-up. Exterior shots are quite washed-out and as a consequence there is a lack of vibrancy, even when Jack and Charlotte are at the beach. I don’t consider this to be a problem as it does serve to enhance the sweaty and grimy atmosphere. Indoor shots are similarly dull, however, again, this is in keeping with the overall atmosphere. Black levels, contrast and greys are pretty good but suffer when compared to the black and white opening sequence which is nicely lit and very clear despite being shot at night and in driving rain. Skin tones and other colours are accurate (apart from the grain), and there are no other obvious signs of film artefacts. Subtitles are English descriptive for the hearing impaired and appear accurate.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


     Default audio track is Dolby Digital 5.1 encoded at 448 Kb/s. Alternatives are a Dolby Digital 2.0 track encoded at 192 Kb/s and a descriptive narration for the vision impaired track using Dolby Digital 2.0 encoded at 192 Kb/s. Surround channels and subwoofer were rarely used however spring to life slightly during the many music segments. The movie score by Mario Grigorov is appropriate and effective with the pop songs also providing welcome interludes. Sampling the two channel track found it not too different from the 5.1 channel street although it was slightly louder. There were plenty of opportunities to use the surround channels, for example in the swamps and at the beach, so it was a bit of a disappointment that the 5.1 mix was firmly left, centre, right.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use



    Animated menu with audio.

Movie Trailers

    All playing sequentially before the opening menu. SD video and Dolby Digital 2.0 at 192 Kb/s: Rapture Palooza (1:44), The Last Stand (1:56), Side Effects (1:49.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The Region 1 disc seems to have the theatrical 2.35:1 aspect and includes a short featurette, interviews, raw film footage and theatrical trailer. There are also combo variations of DVD/Digital copy, and Blu-ray/DVD/Digital copy. Region 1 is therefore preferable if you can get it at a reasonable price.


     Lee Daniels has taken us to some uncomfortable places before, most notably with Precious. Similarly we have in The Paperboy moments of drama and terror and comedy set in a hostile and unwelcoming place, where things are not all as they seem. A dark undercurrent of racism and homophobia and violence follows the plot, and Daniels doesn’t spare us from the shocking and difficult moments that the human condition can deliver.

     The Paperboy could have been a great film if characters had been developed further and the ending not so rushed, but nevertheless this is still a haunting example of film noir which will stay in your memory for a little while.

     The video quality is good.

     The audio quality is good.

     The extras are meagre.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Mike B (read my bio)
Wednesday, July 03, 2013
Review Equipment
DVDCambridge Audio 751bd, using HDMI output
DisplayPanasonic TH-58PZ850A. Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL). This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL).
Amplificationdenon AVR-4311 pre-out to Elektra Theatron 7 channel amp
SpeakersB&W LCR600 centre and 603s3 mains, Niles in ceiling surrounds, SVS PC-Ultra Sub, Definitive Technology Supercube II Sub

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add) NONE