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The Paperboy (2012)

R  |   |  Drama, Thriller  |  17 October 2012 (Belgium)
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Ratings: 5.8/10 from 27,484 users   Metascore: 45/100
Reviews: 131 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?


It was announced on the 2nd May that The Paperboy's theme song was written and recorded by Mariah Carey and is called Mesmerized. See more »


When Jack meets Charlotte, he walks across the yard barefoot. In the next scene, when sitting on the couch, he's wearing black flip flops. 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 »


Show & Tell (Original 45 Version)
Written by Larry Fuller
Performed by Alan Wilson/
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

The moral swamp of the seedy South
22 March 2013 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

Lee Daniels' follow-up to the powerful Precious is an atmospheric work of Southern Gothic, based on a novel by Pete Dexter. Some might be precious (!) about their favourite books, but great films have been made which bear little resemblance to their source material, as fans of Dr Strangelove will know. I wouldn't call The Paperboy great, but with weightless yawners like Hansel & Gretel and Oz currently clogging the cinema, its rawness and energy is like licking an electric fence. In a good way. Grainy, saturated and wilfully unfocused, The Paperboy is a reminder of the power of 2D.

Matthew McConaughey continues his resurgence, tapping into a hitherto hidden vulnerability. He plays Ward Jansen, a journalist who arrives in the back-of-beyond with his partner, Yardley (David Oyelowo). They're in town to write a story about the unlawful conviction of Hilary Van Wetter (John Cusack). To entice him they employ Charlotte (Nicole Kidman, fearless), who's in love with Hilary, or the idea of Hilary. Finally, and centrally, there is scared, smouldering Jack Jansen, played by a very capable Zac Efron.

Jack wants to steal Charlotte away from all this: the alligator-gutters and the insufferable heat. Nicole thinks he knows nothing because he's young, but one of the films myriad themes is the value of youthful idealism: Jack is the only one of the main characters yet to plunge down a rabbit-hole of hopelessness and self-service. There is genuine affection on show, though, of the brotherly kind between Ward and Jack, and the motherly kind between Jack and Anita (a subtle and funny Macy Gray; further proof of Daniels' aptitude for bringing the best and least showy from musicians-turned-actors).

The film is ramshackle and imperfect - but this kind of works. It skitters along with little attention paid to the audience, with precise relationships between characters rarely spelled out, and chunks of action entirely elided. It's not quite as funny or bleak as the similarly southern-fried Killer Joe, but I do believe that The Paperboy has a more humanist agenda than William Friedkin's film, basically emerging on the side of people, broken as they often become.

Like Precious, this is a film containing difficult individual scenes, and a troubling ambivalence about whether we're investing in a set of real characters or peering at them through museum glass. But there's no doubt, when the camera starts rolling, that Daniels sets out to challenge his audience. In that respect, he has succeeded.

10 of 13 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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