February 4, 2013

The Paperboy (2012)

Nicole Kidman, Matthew McConaughey, John Cusack, Zac Efron, (& inexplicably) Macy Gray


I don't know why people hate on Matthew McConaughey. I mean, sure, the whole I-don't-wear-deodorant-thing is gross and he can never seem to shake that hint of used-car-salesman twang to his accent. But that being said, he's just so damn convincing in the roles he chooses. Sleazy guy who's too old to be hanging out with high schoolers? Check. Slacker dude who still lives at home? Check. Male stripper? Check

You might think, then, that it's a leap for him to play a character with a little more substance, like a lawyer or a journalist. It's not. Both those roles have something in common with the roles listed above--they take someone who's just a bit smarmy to pull it off convincingly. So in this movie, he plays a journalist. But one who's just a touch shady. (And sweaty. I mean honestly, I know the movie is trying to portray this hot, muggy summer of 1969, but seeing the sweat pour down every actor's forehead only reminded me of how much Matthew McConaughey must have smelled on set without the use of deodorant.)

I will give credit to John Cusack, who managed to be so convincing as a creepy, dirty, white-trash swamp dweller that it managed to keep me focused during an otherwise choppy plot. The story jumps around, weaving together several themes that don't necessarily go together, but wanting to know what really happened with Cusack's character makes you sit through some of the more bizarre diversions. It also makes me wonder why he didn't get a Golden Globe nomination for Best Supporting Actor (considering Nicole Kidman did). Not to knock on Nicole, who really trashed herself up for this movie. For someone normally so reserved and pristine (helped along by a few dozen doses of Botox), it was refreshing to see her in a new way. And well, to see her at all--where has she been hiding?

And then... we come to Zac Efron. Sigh. There are plusses and minuses on this one. Plus side: he's in just underwear for damn near half the movie. Minus side: they have him in tighty-whities. I know, I know, the movie is set in 1969 and guys didn't wear boxer-briefs back then, but honestly, why spoil the view with bright white briefs? No one (except David Beckham) looks sexy in white briefs. Oh, and his Southern accent needs work. Big shock. It's not his fault though, really. Thrown into a movie with someone who naturally has the accent (McConaughey), an Academy Award-winning actress (Kidman), and the super-awesome John Cusack, poor Zac was destined to be the weak link. Maybe he should take that whole big-fish-in-a-small-pond thing to heart.

**If you notice that I've managed to avoid talking about the movie itself for four paragraphs, it's because I strangely have a lack of opinion on this movie. It was interesting enough to watch, but I can't think of anyone I would recommend it to. It had good acting, but not the most fantastic plot. The whole thing was just weird.

Final word: Yet another art house-type movie that grossed practically no money but got critical acclaim. 

Added note: I couldn't pass up the opportunity to mention that this movie helped earn Matthew McConaughey Actor of the Year from the Central Ohio Film Critics Association. Ahhh... it really doesn't get any better than that.

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