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The Paperboy (2012)

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A reporter returns to his Florida hometown to investigate a case involving a death row inmate.


Lee Daniels


Peter Dexter (screenplay by), Lee Daniels (screenplay by) | 1 more credit »
4,009 ( 351)
Nominated for 1 Golden Globe. Another 4 wins & 11 nominations. See more awards »





Cast overview, first billed only:
Zac Efron ... Jack Jansen
Matthew McConaughey ... Ward Jansen
Nicole Kidman ... Charlotte Bless
John Cusack ... Hillary Van Wetter
David Oyelowo ... Yardley Acheman
Scott Glenn ... W.W. Jansen
Ned Bellamy ... Tyree Van Wetter
Nealla Gordon ... Ellen Guthrie
Macy Gray ... Anita Chester
Edrick Browne Edrick Browne ... Hustler #1
Kevin Waterman ... Victim
Danny Hanemann Danny Hanemann ... Sheriff Thurmond Call
Peter Murnik ... Death Row Guard
John P. Fertitta ... Sam Ellison (as John Fertitta)
Jay Oliver Jay Oliver ... 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

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

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

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »






Release Date:

17 October 2012 (Belgium) See more »

Also Known As:

Amores peligrosos See more »

Filming Locations:

Los Angeles, California, USA See more »


Box Office


$12,500,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$102,706, 7 October 2012, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$692,640, 18 November 2012
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital



Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Hillary Van Wetter (John Cusack) calls Yardley Acheman (David Oyelowo) "Martin Luther King". David Oyelowo starred as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in Selma (2014). See more »


Early in the last sex scene, Charlotte's pantyhose are ripped all the way down to below her knee. A few cuts later they are still pulled up and only the butt portion is ripped out. See more »


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


Features The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson (1962) See more »


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

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

The Paperboy
15 February 2013 | by BTaylor1990See all my reviews

The Paperboy (Lee Daniels, 2012) 3/5 Lee Daniels follow up to his heart wrenching Precious will make you feel dirty. In fact, there are times where you just feel the need to scrub yourself incessantly so you can cope with what is occurring on screen! Based on Peter Dexter's novel of the same name, the narrative follows two investigative journalists - Yardley Acheman and Ward Jansen - who aim to write a story to release convicted murderer Hillary Van Wetter. With the help of nymphomaniac Charlotte Bless, who corresponds with Wetter in prison and Ward's younger brother Jack they soon uncover not everything is what it seems in the sticky heat of the South.

The best way to get your head around is by remembering the exploitation films of the 1970's, where sex, drugs and violence were a staple. If you do this, then you can appreciate what Daniels and his producers were trying to achieve. Indeed, this is one of the films strengths as it pulls no punches at being explicit wherever possible, which garnered extremely mixed reviews when it was screened at Cannes last year.

The acting pedigree of the film is high with Matthew McConaughey and Zac Effron playing the two brothers, with Nicole Kidman excelling in her role as the troubled Miss Bless. However what damages the film is the slow pace and the lack of a proper twist. Generally speaking death-row thrillers have a big reveal at the end or a taut emotional climax. For example A Time to Kill, The Life of David Gale and Dead Man Waking all succeeded because they took the audience right through the investigation. The Paperboy does this to an certain extent; however it glosses over a majority of this in favour of highlighting the sweaty atmosphere of the inhabitants. At times, this becomes so overwhelming that it is difficult to think of anything else, let alone follow the characters as they reveal their dark sides and personal demons. Another issue is casting Macy Gray as the narrator. She might be one of the most annoying maids in film history and, unfortunately, you are stuck with her voice-over for the entire proceedings.

The cinematography is excellent as Roberto Schaefer's camera gets so close to the characters that you can almost smell their body odour in the immense heat. Yes, I told you this film would make you feel dirty. A great example of this is where Charlotte meets Wetter for the first time. They are sat apart in the prison meeting room; Charlotte spread her legs and begins to masturbate. This scene wouldn't have been so bad if they were alone, but Yardley, Ward and Jack are also in the room. Take that as you will… Even though The Paperboy is an uneven thriller, what it excels in is placing the audience in uncomfortable positions. A Haneke film this is not, but by doing this the whole issue of morality and senses in the cinema is raised. As such, Daniels new feature is a sweaty, sexy and visceral experience, which needed to take some more pointers from other more complete films. All in all, you may have to scrub yourself clean, but you won't forget the experience for quite some time.

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