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: Angie Errigo
    Mar 11, 2013
    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.
  2. Reviewed by: Jamie Graham
    Feb 16, 2013
    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.
  3. Arizona Republic
    Reviewed by: Bill Goodykoontz
    Oct 23, 2012
    "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]
  4. Reviewed by: Andrew O'Hehir
    Oct 4, 2012
    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.
  5. Reviewed by: Stan Hall
    Oct 11, 2012
    While Daniels' work disappoints, his film is saved from disaster by uniformly terrific performances.
  6. Reviewed by: Marjorie Baumgarten
    Oct 24, 2012
    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.
  7. Reviewed by: Rick Groen
    Oct 18, 2012
    The Paperboy is southern Gothic wallowing in the swamp of low camp. And if the wallowing were deliberate, this might have been hugely funny.
  8. Reviewed by: Michael O'Sullivan
    Oct 4, 2012
    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.
  9. Reviewed by: A.O. Scott
    Oct 4, 2012
    It is by turns lurid, humid, florid, languid and stupid, but it is pretty much all id all the time.
  10. Reviewed by: Michael Phillips
    Oct 4, 2012
    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."
  11. Reviewed by: R. Kurt Osenlund
    Oct 2, 2012
    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.
  12. The New Yorker
    Reviewed by: David Denby
    Oct 7, 2012
    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]
  13. Reviewed by: Alison Willmore
    Oct 4, 2012
    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.
  14. Reviewed by: Eric Hynes
    Oct 2, 2012
    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.
User Score

Mixed or average reviews- based on 48 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 5 out of 15
  2. Negative: 3 out of 15
  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