While I’ve never seen Human Centipede, I feel comfortable saying that The Paperboy the most cringe-worthy movie to ever hit theaters. Despite a promising cast and an interesting setting, it veers off into insanity almost immediately. There are so many side stories and back stories and upside down stories that don’t contribute to the plot that you leave the movie wondering if it got written with a typewriter and a stack of mad libs.
First of all, Macy Gray kicks everything off by narrating this movie — and by the end of the movie, you realize narrating it for no reason. It’s never really explained why she frames the entire summer of bizarre events from her perspective. But sure, let’s go with it. Let’s pretend that it’s completely normal for Macy Gray to be the first face of this movie.
We quickly find out she’s not just the narrator, but also the housekeeper for the Jensen family. A family that consists of W.W Jensen (Scott Glenn), Ward Jensen (Matthew McConaughey) and Jack Jensen (Zac Efron). They have no mother. Probably because she saw this script and ran away. Good on you Mrs. Jensen, your family’s horrible and you can rest assured you made the right choice!
W.W Jensen’s a hard-nosed newspaper owner in a small, racist Florida town. Ward’s his son who ran away to Miami to be a big time reporter and Jack’s his baby boy who got kicked out of college for pranking the school. I think we’re supposed to hate W.W for being a neglectful father who brings home different girlfriends every other day. But I have trouble caring when that’s the most innocent problem happening in the film.
Before the movie begins, Ward receives letters from the white trash Charlotte Blass (Nicole Kidman) that tell the story about how her fiance Hillary Van Wetter (John Cusack) got locked up for a murder he didn’t commit. Since Ward wants to win a Pulitzer and since this movie makes no sense, he returns to his hometown to solve this crime — and he returns with an English black journalist named Yardley Achmean (David Oyelowo). They hire Jack to drive them around for the summer as they work toward solving the mystery of who really killed the no-good sheriff.
Why they can’t drive themselves, we’ll never know. Why there’s a five minute scenes where Zac Efron and Macy Gray discuss his masturbation habits while he wars nothing but his underwear, we’ll also never know. But sure, let’s keep going with this plot. I’m sure at some point everything will come together.
Perhaps Hillary Van Wetter’s innocent because he can prove that Macy Gray caught him masturbating during the time that the crimes got committed — and that will be his ticket out of jail.
I’m just kidding, Hillary Van Wetter’s not innocent. He’s a sociopath who anyone would want locked up. Even if there’s irrefutable evidence he didn’t commit this murder, he will commit another. The scene where we we first meet him, he’s an asshole to the journalists who come to free him. And then on top of that he’s disgusting. Like so disgusting that you can’t imagine why Charlotte would be attracted to him. I (almost) understand women who fall in love with handsome convicts, but the character John Cusack plays is far from handsome.
He instructs Charlotte to simulate sex with him while they remain the required ten feet apart. He masturbates to her through his jail suit for the worst scene I’ve ever had to sit though in movie history. What the what’s happening. After witnessing this atrocity, Ward and Yardley should have left the jail and returned to Miami.
But they don’t. I suppose they’re charmed by this psychotic man and his white trash fiance. So they set out to solve his case. What happens along the way? Oh they meet his horrifying redneck, straight out of Deliverence family butchering alligators. Hmm, Charlotte and Jack go to the beach where he gets stung by jelly fish and she pees on him. Yep, that infamous scene that everyone’s talking about comes out of nowhere and adds NOTHING to the movie. I’m pretty sure it’s only in there to give the actors something to talk about during press interviews.
Um, what else. Oh we find out Ward’s not only gay, but into extremely violent sex that almost kills him. None of the characters really care at all, so once again, this adds nothing to the film besides the sight of Matthew McConaughey bound and gagged naked on the floor.
Yardley confesses to Jack that he’s not really British and he fakes it so he can get a job in the media. So there’s that scathing indictment on the media in the days of racist Florida. Let’s throw that into this movie too. Why not?
Oh and Jack and Charlotte dance in the rain for what I can only suppose is some coming of age scene, but it once again has no context in the movie. Then almost everyone dies.
So would I recommend you seeing this movie? I mean, if you’re into bath salts, it’s probably your thing. But if you’re the kind of person who likes your plots to make sense and your characters to develop in any kind of rational way, I’d say sit this one out.
Then again Zac Efron barely wears clothes in this entire movie, meaning it will be great to one day watch on TV.
(Photo: Film School Rejects)