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April Showers: The Paperboy

waterworks at eleven, here’s Andrew with a brief one

Would anyone be willing to stand with me when I declare The Paperboy to be the best thing Lee Daniels has done? The movie is undeniably crazy, out-of-control, off-centre, you name it. But, it’s this very tendency for excessiveness and divergent tones that makes it such a fine representation of Daniels’ skills as a filmmaker. The Paperboy, from its most hilarious moments to its most obscene, is completely a Lee Daniels in the best way possible. It has as many important things to say about race and social constructs in its era as much as Precious or The Butler but uses pulp, the ridiculous and even the improbable to tell its story. Sometimes with pit-stops at randomness for the hell of it.

Case in point, this evening’s shower about midway through the film. Important moment of character development, or just a chance for a fun, rainy dance with Zac Efron in underpants? You decide.

I now Nathaniel is one of a small but staunch group who recognise Kidman’s stellar work here. She's excellent as Charlotte Bless. But Zac Efron’s work has been so oddly maligned. Everyone shines a less brightly than Kidman (and Macy Gray, MVP runnerup) but it's hard to fault Zac's turn. He’s doing a fine (albeit easy) job of being audience surrogate – for who has not been infatuted with Nicole Kidman once upon a time?

Jack: "Did you sleep with Yardley?" 

Charlotte: "You know, people like Yardley, you just-- got to get him on your side. You know what I mean?"


Jack: "You fucked him for that?"

Charlotte: "Fucking a man is the most natural thing in the world, Jack."

With Charlotte Bless’ easy sexual energy, this is probably the loosest character Nicole’s played since 2001 and it's so great to see her giving a great performance and having fun while doing so. Up until Charlotte's final moments at least. She's at her easiest opposite Jack making their unlikely attraction work, if not quite as a true romantic pairing, as a meeting of two people who work well together.

I kinda like it out here. 

The scene seems less like one which fills any narrative quota in the plot and more of a chance to just watch Zach and Nicole write around while wet.

And, really, who can complain about that?

This is not me apologising, you dig? I just don't like to see you sad.

Consider this Lee Daniels' own meta-reference on where the film has been going so far. Things have gotten particularly dour, so he's just lifting our spirits. Like Charlotte he doesn't like to see us sad. A random rain dance solves that problem.

That Lee Daniels knows just what he’s doing.

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Reader Comments (21)

Definitely Daniels best movie. I like Precious, but this is the more rewatchable, and the more fun.
I give him tons of credit for being the guy who brought us Gabourey Sidibe, and just as much credit for being the guy who brought us exploiting Zac Efron.

April 30, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMike in Canada

Not a fan of the movie but I absolutely love Kidman's perf!

April 30, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMirko

I still prefer Precious, but The Paperboy easily made my Best Picture list that year.

April 30, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterRobert G

I give him tons of credit for being the guy who brought us Gabourey Sidibe

Then Hollywood's restrictions on him are justified.

April 30, 2014 | Unregistered Commenter3rtful

Easily his best work to date. This is one of those films where its flaws somehow work for it. His prestige Oscar bait (Precious, The Butler) are embarrassing failures but I find him much more interesting when he lets loose and goes for broke. Shadowboxer is also an entertaining clusterfuck.

April 30, 2014 | Unregistered Commentero.s.

I can't claim i like this film better than Precious but Kidman is so genius in it that she elevates the whole (and also Macy Gray is very strong... and she's been very strong in all three movies i've seen her in so i hope filmmakers continue to find ways to use her now and again)

thanks for highlighting this one.

April 30, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterNATHANIEL R

When I read the title of the blog I though it would be about the other "shower" scene from that film... ;)

April 30, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMarek

Marek -- LOL. maybe next year. Not sure if we should keep doing April Showers each year though (i fear people are tuning out).

April 30, 2014 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

I still think Precious is Lee Daniels' best work, but I loved The Paperboy. I never understood why so many hated it. I only hated Zac Efron's acting, I thought the rest worked.

April 30, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterBrittani

I love April Showers! One of my favorite features. Honestly, i literally smiled when I saw The Paperboy got chosen because it totally slipped my mind as a choice. plus, it's such a lovely little moment.

I'm still on board with Precious as Lee's best film but it's outrageous how much drama is put on Precious as a character. The Paperboy is so underrated though. I enjoyed it *way* more than most of the Oscar nominated pictures that year.

Once you sit back and don't think of it as any sort of prestige film, it's a nice little movie. Kidman's no holds barred performance and the objectification of Efron certainly helped. Kidman might've made it to the Oscars if the Academy didn't blow its wad over Silver Linings Playbook and nominating the whole damn cast.

Charlotte Bless could have so easily been a caricature and handled terribly in the wrong hands but Kidman made an actual person out of her. I actually felt terrible for her in the end.

April 30, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterDerreck.

I do think The Paperboy is underrated, but Precious is still Daniels's best film by a mile. There's a lot of interesting stuff of Paperboy, but it never really cohered for me. It was an odd viewing experience, and not in a good way.

That said, the entire cast is on fire, with Kidman spinning absolute GOLD as Charlotte Bless. Love this scene for many reasons - Zack Efron in wet tighty-whities surprisingly not first among them!

April 30, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterdenny

I think Precious edges this one out just ever so slightly as his best work, but The Paperboy is the Lee Daniels film I'll probably revisit the most. Kidman's lack of awards attention still hurts and I agree that Efron wasn't the embarrassment that a lot of people want to believe he was.

April 30, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterthefilmjunkie

"Precious" will always be Lee Daniels's masterpiece. "The Paperboy" doesn't even come close to that.

April 30, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterGerry

Definitely keep April Showers. It's a great and unexpected way to get a glimpse into a film I've never seen (I added Flirting with Disaster to my watch list as a result of your write-up), or approach one I have seen from a new angle. Far superior to Winter Soldier write-ups ;)

April 30, 2014 | Unregistered Commentercatbaskets

Couild not even get through The Paperboy ... iI did not enjoy thr script, acting or direction... I feel Daniell's tries too hard... Precious is the best thing he has done.

April 30, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterrick

I liked April Showers. As someone else stated, its a new way to look at various films and when you consider how much water is used to set tone in film (weather is almost always manipulated in film to fit the script which is the reverse of TV), its a valid discussion point.

Plus, how else do you connect such a diverse group of films under one heading?

April 30, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterHenry

Henry -- well we have other series to do that as well :) but i appreciate people saying they like it. It's so hard to tell what people like when you're blogging so I just kind of follow my own interests and hope )

April 30, 2014 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

hands down his best work.

April 30, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterClara

Yeah, but Nat, wet bodies, in and out of their clothing is always more interesting than the nuances of the latest superhero spandex or ultra explosion. <g>

April 30, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterHenry

Paperboy is all kinds of awesome. No movie like it. I was at the first test screening. So the shock was big. Original version efron was narrating

May 1, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJosh

Nicole deserved an Oscar nomination. Kidman is absolutely perfect.

May 2, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterAlberto

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