The Paperboy


Mixed or average reviews - based on 38 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 13 out of 38
  2. Negative: 11 out of 38

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Critic Reviews

  1. Reviewed by: Eric Kohn
    Oct 4, 2012
    Lee Daniels' The Paperboy is a rare case of serious commitment to outright silliness.
  2. Reviewed by: Justin Chang
    Oct 4, 2012
    A risibly overheated, not unenjoyable slab of late-'60s Southern pulp trash, marked by a sticky, sweaty atmosphere of delirium and sexual frustration that only partly excuses the woozy ineptitude of the filmmaking.
  3. Reviewed by: Rene Rodriguez
    Oct 11, 2012
    Despite all the freaky business on display - and there are moments here when you cannot believe your eyes - The Paperboy suffocates you with boredom like a hot, wet blanket. You want to push it away and escape. It makes sleaze boring.
  4. Reviewed by: Kyle Smith
    Oct 5, 2012
    The Paperboy can't decide whether to be an unfunny sex comedy, a half-hearted detective story or a woeful race drama - so it decides to be all three, then becomes yet another movie (a swampy "Heart of Darkness") in the final act.
  5. Reviewed by: Nathan Rabin
    Oct 3, 2012
    So why is The Paperboy so bizarrely dull? It's as if the filmmakers combined 18 different kinds of scalding-hot peppers, yet inexplicably emerged with oatmeal.
  6. Reviewed by: Mike Scott
    Nov 2, 2012
    This is the kind of film that feels like a dream - but not in the good way. Rather, it resembles a dream in that it is made up of disjointed, loosely connected bits of surrealist craziness - ideas that might have seemed interesting in the twilight hours but that don't come close to standing up to the light of day.
  7. 20
    It offers a deranged hodgepodge of tones and acting styles and strange mannerisms and affectations and narrative dead ends that feels like it was assembled by a committee of bipolar extraterrestrials.
  8. Reviewed by: Joe Neumaier
    Oct 4, 2012
    It is likely to become an unintended camp classic, something we haven't had since "Showgirls."
  9. Reviewed by: Scott Tobias
    Oct 5, 2012
    The words "florid" and "inert" are not quite antonyms, but it would nonetheless seem impossible for those two adjectives to apply to the same thing. And yet here comes The Paperboy, a swamp noir so spectacularly incompetent that even the ripest pulp attractions are left to rot in the sun, flies buzzing lazily around them.
  10. Reviewed by: Rex Reed
    Oct 2, 2012
    This raunchy dreck, cut from the same disposable toilet tissue as the recent trailer-trash creepfest "Killer Joe," is a leap downhill from "Precious."
  11. Reviewed by: James Rocchi
    Sep 29, 2012
    A lurid, florid, humid, flaccid and insipid waste of time and money for the audience and for everyone who made it.
User Score

Mixed or average reviews- based on 49 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 5 out of 16
  2. Negative: 3 out of 16
  1. Oct 5, 2012
    What a mess of a film. After "Precious" this just does not seem quite right coming from Daniels. Visually, the film is not bad. TheWhat a mess of a film. After "Precious" this just does not seem quite right coming from Daniels. Visually, the film is not bad. The cinematography is great, with a definite 60s glare to it, which works to truly transform your vision and make it seem as if it were shot in the 60s itself. The original score is pretty decent too, with some good tunes, especially "That man is dangerous." The storyline, however, is rather weak and the dialogue at times makes no sense. A lot is also left unexplained -- like McConaughey's love life and events surround that. It is rather gory and out there, which might repeal some viewers, but overall it is definitely an interesting film visually. What stood out to me (in a positive light) were the performances. Efron, though contained, was decent in his performance, as was McConaughey. John Cusack was excellent as the vicious murderer Hillary. His manic look and twitches really brought Hillary to life, as a credible character. The absolute best thing about the film, however, was Nicole Kidman. She shines as the sultry, sexy, yet a bit dim-witted Charlotte Bless, who has a thing for prison convicts (i.e. Cusack in the film). She steals every scene she is in, and that is quite an achievement considering the cast. With her platinum wig, short/tight outfits, and fake tan, she embodies her character perfectly. Another exceptional performance comes from Macy Gray, who unfortunately doesn't get too much screen time, but she does amazingly well with the little she's been given. It is the Viola Davis in 'Doubt' moment for 'The Paperboy'. Overall, a rather underwhelming film that, despite excellent performances, leaves you wondering what the point of the whole film was. Daniel's does seem to be at the top of his game directorially in many ways, but he has definitely missed the mark here. Full Review »
  2. Apr 28, 2015
    It's not a crowd-pleasing movie; it's just and excellent movie. So dark, "black as the pit from pole to pole", so unforgiving about humanIt's not a crowd-pleasing movie; it's just and excellent movie. So dark, "black as the pit from pole to pole", so unforgiving about human flaws. McConaughey, Kidman, Cusack and Gray teach an acting lesson. Don't pay attention to the average score but to the huge spread among both critics and public. It tells you it isn't a movie for everyone. Zac Efron is here to show he has also an acting range, not to provide entertainment, good looks and a happy ending. Full Review »
  3. Jan 24, 2013
    Three years after his Oscar-nominated dark horse Precious (2009, 8/10), Lee Daniels doesn