The Paper

Review Date:
Director: Ron Howard
Writer: David Koepp and Stephen Koepp
Producers: Brian Grazer and Frederick Zollo
Michael Keaton as Henry Hackett, Marisa Tomei as Martha Hackett, Glen Close as Alicia Clark, Robert Duvall as Bernie White
This film covers one day, behind the scenes, in the life of a big-city newspaper. A possibly untrue story breaks out about two African-American youths who appear to have killed a pair of out of town white businessmen. As the day, and the story unfold, we get entangled in the personal, and professional, lives of every single person needed to put a news article, and paper, together. Is the truth more important than a story?
Entertaining, extremely informative, rapidly-paced film that literally puts you on the front lines with the cast and crew who fabricate the news stories which we read in our newspapers every day. This film was interesting for me because it seemed to give me a lot of insight into the high-flying antics of a big city newspaper, without dumbing it down for the sake of the lowest-common audience member. Having said that, I didn’t buy most of the extreme dinky personal stories that ran through their lives during this one day (it seemed like that one day was the biggest day in the lives of every single person in the movie!), but then again, I guess they needed to jazz up some of their stories in order to make their characters a little more interesting than Woodward and Bernstein.

The acting was top-notch on all fronts, with Keaton pulling off another quirky, stressed-out guy role, and Tomei demonstrating some depth as the pregnant reporter wife who feels her husband’s life slowly trinkling away from her own. Close plays her cold, bitchy editor role superbly, and Duvall also steps up to the plate as the old, editorial coot with ailing health and family issues (his “uncomfortable for everyone in the room” coughing sequence was very cool and authentic.) One might argue that the film is a little too engrossed in its own world of high-stakes stories and jargon, but I guess I didn’t mind that aspect one bit. In fact, that’s exactly what I liked about the movie.

Overall, this picture will be extremely interesting to all those that want to know more about the business of selling newspapers, and/or those looking for some extremely bright acting moments from some of today’s best actors. If neither point interests you in any way, then I suggest you stay away from this rat-race of a flick, and check out Howard’s more inclusive cinematic vehicles like PARENTHOOD and BACKDRAFT.

Critic’s note: This film was watched during a weekend layaway in New York City with Mrs. JoBlo by my side. Chinese take-out food was thoroughly enjoyed during our screening, which may or may not have, in some shape or form, altered my enjoyment of this film. Thank you for understanding.

(c) 2021 Berge Garabedian

The Paper