Seeing our favourite stars getting their kit off on the big screen is a major reason why people make the trip to a cinema. If this appeals to you then you will love The Paperboy. When it was first aired last year at Cannes, the director Lee Daniels, best known for Precious, said that the reason Zac Efron spent so much screen time in his undies was because he was gay and he liked it. Daniels later refuted this and said that what he meant to say was he used to do that but without looking like Efron.
Either way, The Paperboy is one big sweaty mess, and is an adaptation of the Pete Dexter’s 1995 thriller which is set in Florida in 1969. It tells the story of two brothers; Ward (Matthew McConaughey), a journalist with the Miami Times and Jack (Efron) a college drop out who is now a paperboy. Together, they are investigating the case of Hillary Van Wetter (John Cusack) a man on death row who, although he may be innocent of the murder for which he was convicted, is still vile.
Charlotte Bless (Nicole Kidman) is an ageing sexpot, one off those needy women who are turned on by killers, and she is determined to wed Hillary if he is freed. All of their efforts to secure this end in disaster. The film, it has to be said, is remarkably faithful to the basic story of the novel, no doubt due to the fact that Dexter co-adapted it. But racially there has been much switching around.
Jack is the narrator of the book, but the film presents us with an initial interview followed by a voiceover commentary from the family’s black maid, This proves to be a mistake as the maid is not played terribly well by singer Macy Gray, a friend of Daniels. The subplot involving Ward’s secret homosexuality, something that leads to him being almost beaten to death, also suffer from the racial transposition.