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The Paperboy (2012)

R  |   |  Drama, Thriller  |  17 October 2012 (Belgium)
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Ratings: 5.8/10 from 27,108 users   Metascore: 45/100
Reviews: 130 user | 245 critic | 38 from Metacritic.com

A reporter returns to his Florida home-town to investigate a case involving a death row inmate.



(screenplay), (screenplay), 1 more credit »
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Nominated for 1 Golden Globe. Another 5 wins & 11 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
W.W. Jansen
Tyree Van Wetter
Ellen Guthrie
Anita Chester
Edrick Browne ...
Hustler #1
Danny Hanemann ...
Sheriff Thurmond Call
Sam Ellison (as John Fertitta)
Mr. Guthrie / Wedding Guest (as James Oliver)


Eldest son Ward Jansen is a star reporter for a Miami newspaper and has returned home with close friend Yardley to investigate a racial murder case. Younger brother Jack Jansen has returned home after a failed stint at university as a star swimmer. To help give his life some direction, Ward gives Jack a job on their investigation as their driver. But into the mix comes the fiancée of the imprisoned convict who stirs up confusing feelings of love and lust for the young Jack. Meanwhile, Ward and Yardley's investigation stirs up deep-rooted issues of race and acceptance which could cause serious consequences for everyone involved. Written by napierslogs

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Drama | Thriller

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for strong sexual content, violence and language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

17 October 2012 (Belgium)  »

Also Known As:

Amores peligrosos  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$12,500,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$102,706 (USA) (5 October 2012)


$692,640 (USA) (16 November 2012)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Peter Dexter, author of the novel, dislikes the film. See more »


Jack tosses his beer as he's walking towards Charlotte. Then he takes the boxes but still has the beer in his left hand. When he turns around again, the beer is gone. See more »


[first lines]
Interviewer: [off-screen] Just tell me when you're rolling.
See more »


Referenced in The Tonight Show with Jay Leno: Episode #21.70 (2013) See more »


Jimmy Mack
Written by Lamont Dozier, Brian Holland, Eddie Holland
Performed by Martha & The Vandellas
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

In southern Florida where a racial murder case turns into a coming-of-age character study
28 January 2013 | by (Ontario, Canada) – See all my reviews

"The Paperboy" has received some harsh criticism, not just divisive but mostly negative reviews. I'm happy to provide an opposite perspective but it is worth mentioning that most critiques seem to come from a superficial point-of-view. Anita (Macy Gray) as the narrator takes us down to small town life in Florida in the late 1960s where she worked as a maid for the white, upper class Jansen family. Nothing is as it seems.

The youngest brother, Jack Jansen (Zac Efron), has just returned home after a short stint as a star swimmer at university. He's lost with no purpose and no real desire. The elder brother, Ward Jansen (Matthew McConaughey), is a reporter at the Miami Times and has just returned home to investigate a racial murder case. To help him, he has brought home his newspaper partner and friend Yardley Acheman (David Oyelowo). Yardley comes from an upper class, African American family from London.

The film has found a place in time where racism was rampant in some parts of the world and barely an issue in other parts of the world. It was definitely an issue for Hillary Van Wetter (John Cusack) who apparently committed murder due to race, but he could also have been unjustly imprisoned due to race.

At this point in the film, most viewers are still reeling from the introduction of all the actors. Cusack is playing a Southern white trash, murderous hick and Nicole Kidman is playing his white trash fiancée, Charlotte Bless, who likes chasing after imprisoned criminals. Viewers remain in a state of shock when Hillary and Charlotte decide to pleasure themselves upon first meeting, with all other paper players present. Contrary to popular belief, that scene was not just for pure shock value, it was also used to help establish who the innocent characters are and who deserves our sympathies.

The most intuitive and considerate character, Ward, has also returned home to look after his little brother. Their mother died when they were young and with a stubborn and distant father and scheming step-mother- to-be, Jack is prone to misunderstood loneliness, and Ward hires him as a driver for their newspaper article on Hillary's case. Jack is more innocent and sheltered than his age suggests. He's never been in love and he doesn't even know how to find love. So when Charlotte shows up with bleach-blonde hair and a skin-tight, shorter-than-appropriate hooker dress, he's in love. Or infatuation, but he doesn't know the difference, and then the film starts exploring that.

But after all, Jack (Efron) is the title character of "The Paperboy". This film is about him. It also happens to be about love, sex, race, murder and acceptance. It is extreme, chaotic and tragic, but it's not terrible. It's actually a very intelligent film.

27 of 44 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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