Metascore
45

Mixed or average reviews - based on 38 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 13 out of 38
  2. Negative: 11 out of 38
  1. Reviewed by: Todd McCarthy
    Sep 29, 2012
    80
    In the spirit of the venture, the entire cast gets down and comes off all the better for it. Both Efron and McConaughey get very messed up physically, and both actors seem stimulated to be playing such flawed characters.
  2. Reviewed by: Peter Bradshaw
    Sep 29, 2012
    80
    Nicole Kidman gives her best performance since "To Die For."
  3. Reviewed by: Steven Rea
    Oct 11, 2012
    75
    The Paperboy is over-the-top every which way you look.
  4. Reviewed by: Wesley Morris
    Oct 11, 2012
    75
    I've never seen a movie like this. Not on purpose. Daniels isn't saying he's tasteful. He's just saying that his tasteless trash is as deserving of our attention as the tasteful trash we feel like we have to see. The whole thing's a crazy fantasy, like watching a porno dream it can win the Oscar.
  5. Reviewed by: Claudia Puig
    Oct 7, 2012
    75
    Gator-filled swamps, an ultra-grungy murderer, racial undertones and a sexually charged atmosphere make up the tense and lurid world of The Paperboy.
  6. Reviewed by: Roger Ebert
    Oct 3, 2012
    75
    The Paperboy is great trash, and as Pauline Kael told us, the movies are so seldom great art that if we can't appreciate great trash, we might as well not go at all.
  7. Reviewed by: Betsy Sharkey
    Oct 4, 2012
    70
    There is such unflinching passion in the piece that The Paperboy deserves to be seen even though it can feel almost as flawed as its characters.
  8. Reviewed by: Amy Nicholson
    Oct 3, 2012
    70
    This is a curio that demands to be seen.
  9. Reviewed by: Jonathan Kiefer
    Oct 2, 2012
    70
    When not contriving to get Efron out of his clothes, The Paperboy gropes for familiar movie language of its period setting: Soul music swells up excitedly over a jumble of jerky zooms, befuddling cuts, and spatial vagueness. But sometimes hot messiness has its charms.
  10. Reviewed by: Mary Corliss
    Sep 29, 2012
    70
    All the actors rise or bend to the challenge, giving juicy performances and seemingly having a fine old time.
  11. Reviewed by: Owen Gleiberman
    Oct 3, 2012
    67
    Much of what happens in The Paperboy is so luridly bizarre you can't quite believe what you're seeing.
  12. Reviewed by: Peter Travers
    Oct 4, 2012
    63
    This hot mess got booed by the snobs at Cannes, but there's no denying its profane energy.
  13. Reviewed by: James Berardinelli
    Oct 3, 2012
    63
    There are some splendidly over-the-top performances - chiefly those of Nicole Kidman and John Cusack, both cast against type - but the biggest narrative hole lies at the center. The lead character, played by Zac Efron, is dull, uninteresting, and poorly conceived.
  14. Reviewed by: Angie Errigo
    Mar 11, 2013
    60
    A superb Kidman takes off the handbrake, and most everything else, in Daniels' southern-fried follow-up to "Precious." Watch it with "Killer Joe" for the ultimate sweaty, twisted double-bill.
  15. Reviewed by: Jamie Graham
    Feb 16, 2013
    60
    A grindhouse mix of "Wild Things," "Killer Joe" and "Streetcar Named Desire," The Paperboy won’t be for all. But it boasts a soupy atmosphere and Kidman’s best turn for years.
  16. Reviewed by: Bill Goodykoontz
    Oct 23, 2012
    60
    "Southern fried" is as good a phrase as any to describe The Paperboy...It fits, really, because it causes the same reaction. You eat a mess of fried okra or tater tots, and it's tasty going down. It's only after you're done that you feel a little queasy. [18 Oct 2012]
  17. Reviewed by: Andrew O'Hehir
    Oct 4, 2012
    60
    While the portrayal of Southern race relations in the '60s is less central here than in "The Help," it's also less labored and earnest, and one could argue that it's subtler, more intimate and more honest.
  18. Reviewed by: Stan Hall
    Oct 11, 2012
    58
    While Daniels' work disappoints, his film is saved from disaster by uniformly terrific performances.
  19. Reviewed by: Marjorie Baumgarten
    Oct 24, 2012
    50
    Most of the performances are good in a flailing sort of way, and McConaughey, especially, is a standout in this year of his reinvention. Despite all its garish accoutrements and salacious underpinnings, The Paperboy can be a hoot to watch.
  20. Reviewed by: Rick Groen
    Oct 18, 2012
    50
    The Paperboy is southern Gothic wallowing in the swamp of low camp. And if the wallowing were deliberate, this might have been hugely funny.
  21. Reviewed by: Michael O'Sullivan
    Oct 4, 2012
    50
    The movie itself is a tad overheated. In the lurid, swampy, yet almost perversely engrossing follow-up to director Lee Daniels's "Precious," the temperature is set to "sizzle." Ironically, it could have used a little more time in the oven.
  22. Reviewed by: A.O. Scott
    Oct 4, 2012
    50
    It is by turns lurid, humid, florid, languid and stupid, but it is pretty much all id all the time.
  23. Reviewed by: Michael Phillips
    Oct 4, 2012
    50
    To say The Paperboy doesn't work is one thing; to say it's dull is a lie. This movie is berserk, which is more interesting than "eh."
  24. Reviewed by: R. Kurt Osenlund
    Oct 2, 2012
    50
    The Paperboy deserves to be seen for its pulpy, well-executed excess, but as a filmmaker, Lee Daniels seems ignorant of how the shocks distract from the story.
  25. Reviewed by: David Denby
    Oct 7, 2012
    40
    The movie is messily ineffective. Daniels likes charged, discordant scenes, with sudden explosions of violence. He shoves the camera in people's faces, and he can't convincingly stage a scene with more than two people in it. [8 Oct. 2012, p.86]
  26. Reviewed by: Alison Willmore
    Oct 4, 2012
    40
    The Paperboy is a nutty movie in terms of content, but it's also assembled in a demented fashion - there's a sense that literally anything could happen, and that its raunchy, heat-dazed story could wander down any path without regard to sense or an overall narrative.
  27. Reviewed by: Eric Hynes
    Oct 2, 2012
    40
    The problem is that the filmmaker brings D-grade craft to these B-movie exertions, making his florid maximalism more entertaining to talk about than endure - despite the best efforts of his ardently slumming A-list cast.
  28. Reviewed by: Eric Kohn
    Oct 4, 2012
    33
    Lee Daniels' The Paperboy is a rare case of serious commitment to outright silliness.
  29. Reviewed by: Justin Chang
    Oct 4, 2012
    30
    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.
  30. Reviewed by: Rene Rodriguez
    Oct 11, 2012
    25
    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.
User Score
5.7

Mixed or average reviews- based on 43 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 6 out of 14
  2. Negative: 3 out of 14
  1. Oct 5, 2012
    4
    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. Jan 24, 2013
    6
    Three years after his Oscar-nominated dark horse Precious (2009, 8/10), Lee Daniels doesn
  3. Jan 4, 2013
    5
    The Paperboy was an interesting film that falls flat due to misdirection. This murky crime drama was going in with a possibly decent story,The Paperboy was an interesting film that falls flat due to misdirection. This murky crime drama was going in with a possibly decent story, but it was ultimately told in the messiest way possible, from the moment Macy Gray started narrating. Disastrous and divulging; the plot dissolves in the sea (or swamp, rather) of visual style the director tries to accentuate. Shot and edited with a lot of panache, there Full Review »