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Maria Conchita Alonso,
Henry Hackett is the editor of a New York City tabloid. He is a workaholic who loves his job, but the long hours and low pay are leading to discontent. Also, publisher Bernie White faces financial straits, and has hatchetman Alicia Clark, Henry's nemesis, impose unpopular cutbacks. Henry's wife Martha, a hugely pregnant former reporter of his, is fed up because he has so little time for his family. He is therefore considering an offer from Paul Bladden to edit a paper like the New York Times, which would mean more money, shorter hours, more respectability...but might also be a bit boring for his tastes. But a hot story soon confronts Henry with tough decisions. Written by
A funny, fast-paced and fascinating film, THE PAPER delivers. Michael Keaton is remarkable as Henry Hackett, a newspaper editor torn between the two loves of his life: his exhausting job and his long-suffering (and pregnant) wife. This juggling act plays itself out during one particularly frenzied day in which Hackett must weigh a better job offer while trying to outscoop his deep-pocketed competitors on a murder story.
It's a cliché to say so, but there's never a dull moment in THE PAPER. The multi-faceted storyline sucks the viewer in and doesn't let go until after the exciting, root-on-the-good-guys finale. An interesting film could have been made about any one of the angles explored here, be it the incredibly hectic behind-the-scenes workings of a major daily, the personal toll such an operation takes on its employees, or the media's tendency to oversimplify. To combine these into one film results in an infinitely mesmerizing piece of work. And let's not forget Ron Howard's direction, which is smooth and virtually flawless. The writing is equally brilliant. Whatever reaction the film tries to inflict -- laughter, excitement, surprise -- it inevitably succeeds.
The performances in THE PAPER deserve special mention. Everyone is so well cast that it's impossible to picture anyone else in these roles. Keaton has never been better in a starring role that is tailor-made to his comedic and dramatic abilities. Robert Duvall is on top of his game as the publisher whose job has cost him so much in other areas of his life. Marisa Tomei, as Mrs. Hackett, proves MY COUSIN VINNY was no fluke. (The scene where she glares at her husband in disbelief as he tells her he has to miss an important dinner with her parents is absolutely priceless). Randy Quaid is as quirky as can be as the paper's resident columnist. And although his appearances are brief, the late Spalding Gray is unforgettable as the head of a rival paper. This group of actors may very well comprise one of the most talented ensembles of the 1990s.
It's a shame THE PAPER has never received the attention it deserved. Had it been released 50 years ago, in a less cluttered era, it would most certainly be widely hailed as a classic today.
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