I just saw the worst movie I've seen in a long time.
You HAVE to watch it, late some night. You just do. But…keep the kids out of the room. And squeamish adults. And…anyone who is easily offended or insulted or really PC. Cause when the wheels just fly off this sucker, it’s hard to hang on.
But try. I swear, it’s jaw droppingly weird, but I almost watched it again. Probably will.
I do not want to discuss what that says about me. That might be scarier than the movie.
It’s a Lee Daniels film called The Paperboy. And with Zac Efron, Nicole Kidman, Matthew McConaughey. John Cusack, David Oyelowo, Scott Glenn and a fascinating touch of Macy Gray…it probably should’ve been better. In fact, everyone acts their asses off despite the script and…God, whatever went wrong. It’s hard to pin that down.
I think it’s the plot. Or…that there wasn’t one. Or that there were too many plots.
It’s set in the…60’s, I think. And seems to be about a young reporter (McConaughey), son of a smarmy, henpecked newspaper publisher (Glenn) who kinda didn’t even need to be in the movie. And said son brings a black reporter friend (Oyelowo) down South to his home town to co-write a story about a botched murder trial that gave a local boy (Cusack) the death penalty.
But it is also about the young reporter’s achingly sweet baby brother—youknow that’s Efron—who falls in love with the convict’s hella trashy long distance, letter writing sex toy (Kidman) for reasons that remain a mystery to me. And it is also about the baby brother discovering that his reporter brother is gay and likes very rough sex with young black thugs he picks up in a seedy bar where surreal, Supremes-ish black women do routines straight out of Dreamgirls despite that fact that it's a dive in which the Supremes would never have set even one sequined shoed foot.
And it is also about how the black reporter, who once kinda fooled around with McConaughey, has been pretending to be British because he thinks that’s the only way he can be accepted as a real reporter because it’s the 60’s and all the white people in the film except a few of the “good guys” are always glaring at him like they used to stare at Sidney Poitier in movies like this back in the day.
And it is also…oh, never mind.
It’s the moments that count. And boy, does it have a few. It reminded me of the killer Southern kitsch like, Hurry Sundown and Baby Doll. I’m talkingpot boiling Tennessee Williams movie bad. Okay, most of the Tennessee Williams ones were good.
It’s the histrionic, macabre “feel” that some of those adaptations had thatThe Paperboy reprises. Like Suddenly Last Summer, which I love, but which is, of course, about how Elizabeth Taylor’s gay cousin was eaten by a pack of young Italian cannibals. And I mean eaten like “nom nom,” not eaten like…well…that other way.
There are lots of “eaten by cannibals” moments in this one. One is when Zac Efron is stung by lots of beautiful little jellyfish…and then peed on by Nicole Kidman after he extricates himself from the nasty little creatures and stumbles out of the surf and collapses onto the sand looking…’way too pretty. Bless his heart. He’s actually really good in this ridiculous film—surprisingly good, given what he was working with. But that face…just won’t let us believe it.
The peeing? It’s…the antidote for jellyfish stings. But it’s also, like…a metaphor, because Zac is crazy in love with Nicole, but she keeps teasing and hurting the poor boy because she’s in love with this scary crazy convict played by a John Cusack I never saw coming and would rather not see again, thanks.
Speaking of the creepy Cusack, another moment is when he and Kidman have…radar sex, sitting across from each other in the prison visiting room while poor Zac and Matthew and David Oyewolo look on in…something less than horror, something more than just plain disbelief. It might’ve been less difficult to watch if Kidman and Cusack hadn’t been soooo convincing. I wanted to go take a shower afterwards. Not a cold one. But a good one. To cleanse my sullied soul. And I’m no prude. I can even handle a little porn if I’m in the mood.
This…is something else. I haven’t decided what yet.
Another cannibal moment is…almost a real cannibal moment. It’s when Efron runs to the aid of big brother who we discover hog tied and blood soaked in a motel room in which the black on white, sadomasochist role “reversal” thing has definitely gone ‘way too far.
Big brother’s pretty McConaughey face is all battered and slashed—I think he’s lost an eye, too. And for some reason, Efron just keeps yelling, “What was the plastic for, Wade?!” (I have no idea—I kinda hid my eyes and missed a lot of this scene.)
Have I mentioned the Deliverance moment in the swamps? There are a few of those, actually, including one in which the convict’s…brother (?) slits open a freshly killed gator (croc?) and sorta…massages the intestines out. Closeup on the entrails. Eeeuuuwwwww.
The family sitting on the broke down porch is straight out of Deliverance, too. No banjo prodigy this time, though. Just all the worst stereotypes yet again. This movie is an equal opportunity insult to damned near everyone.
Why did I love it so much?
It wasn’t the “train wreck” thing. Honest. It was…I guess that Plan 9 from Outer Space thing or Reefer Madness or Roger Corman, grindhouse movie “it’s so bad it’s good” thrill I got just sitting there, gaping at the screen as the cannibal moments flashed by.
I also kept thinking how good everyone was, and trying to figure out why the movie was still so bad. Hasn’t hurt Efron—he’s going to be all over the screen soon. McConaughey has made it through both this and Magic Mikeintact—he’s actually really good at doing what Efron hasn’t quite done yet. Making that pretty face scary or smarmy as hell.
I dunno. I guess sometimes we just need a little sleaze to spice things up. Or…something.
Maybe it was the train wreck thing. Whatever.
Watch it sometime. NOT with someone you love. Alone. With the door locked. And maybe permission from a therapist.
I may have to go see one. But I have to watch this movie one more time first...