The Paper
Review By: Gringo

If there was ever a movie deserving of being called The Cliché, then this may well be it. Not that it's a bad movie, it's just packed with so many stereotypes you have to wonder if the screenwriter had a single spark of originality while churning out the script.

Maybe Mr. Screenwriter was too busy coping with the angst of being at the bottom of the Hollywood food chain. Maybe he didn't care. Maybe he was one of 1,000 monkeys chained to typewriters who mashed the keys until they had a shooting script.

So many maybes! Regardless of how many monkeys were involved, The Paper tells the story of a - drum roll! - newspaper in New York City. However, for the purposes of this movie, we're dealing very much with Noo Yawk City. Yes, the same place both Ghostbusters movies had the joy of being set in - taking that peculiar accent and reputation of sour attitudes and exploding them. INTO SPACE!

Michael Keaton stars (like a twinkling diamond!) as Henry Hackett, the stressed Metro editor of the fictitious New York Sun. He's cliché number one: needing a can of Coca Cola before he can start work, and doing a lot of shouting and pretending to act manic. Here is some sample dialogue:

Martha Hackett: Why don't you just pour battery acid down your throat?
Henry Hackett: No caffeine.

And a Keaton-does-manic moment:

Henry Hackett: Oh yeah? Well guess fuckin' what? I don't really fuckin' care! You wanna know fuckin' why? Because I don't live in the fuckin' world, I live in New York City! So go fuck yourself!

Fun, eh?

Anyway, Hackett's in charge of a veritable clownboat of reporters on the day a potentially big story breaks. Background first! Hackett's been offered a job with the more upmarket New York Sentinel, and his wife's about to shoot a baby out of her vagina. So he's got a fair amount on his mind.

Meanwhile, two black kids are arrested after they're seen near a car containing the bodies of two dead white men. Just like O.J., these kids are innocent, and thus the movie has a plot - Hackett is convinced of this, but his snooty pooty Mama mooty managing editor (Glenn Close) is more concerned about getting the paper out on the streets.

Welcome cliché number two! Close is the typical hard-nosed money-grabbing executive who's hated by her staff and desperately seeking something better. She'll run the headline "GOTCHA!" (thus implying the kids' guilt) if Hackett can't get a cop to say they're innocent by deadline.

And so the wackiness begins. I'll leave it to you to work out what happens, although given it's a Ron Howard movie I wouldn't rent it expecting a dark ending where the cops carry on beating ethnic minorities to a pulp at will. Besides, I can already hear you saying "Gringo! What about the movie? Give us your wise opinion!"

I shall do just that! It's quite good, if you suspend 50% of your brain's love of sense. But the real joy is cliché number three: Bernie White, the disgruntled editor of the New York Sun, played by Robert Duvall.

I swear the actor was taking the piss with this role. For a start, he genuinely says, "I've got a prostate the size of a bagel" and does it in that stressed, throaty Noo Yawk voice that no one really speaks in. He's a chain-smoker with a broken family, who spends his nights in seedy downtown bars and cracks lines like "Keep your dick out of my ashtray"

If there were an award for Most Cliché Character In A Movie, Bernie White would have to be a strong contender. Who knows? Perhaps one day there will be such an award! And maybe when Bernie White goes up to collect it, he'll be 300 pounds overweight, spout a lot of unoriginal bullshit and disappear into his own self-importance.

Oh, sorry, I'm thinking of Michael Moore. But I shall save my naughty cuss words about that behemoth for a review of Bowling For Columbine. Set your anticipation level to STUN FOR FUN.

Surprisingly, the actual mechanics of the newspaper are somewhat realistic, although reporting is nowhere near as interesting as you might believe watching this movie. For example, there's one scene where a group of sub-editors are working late into the night, laughing and smiling and congratulating each other on their work.

If it was the real world, they'd be bitching about not getting overtime and gossiping to others about how shit the work is the other sub-editors are doing.

I think the final decision on the movie's quality should revolve around one of the lines of dialogue. Quite late on in The Paper, Hackett actually shouts, "Stop the presses!" without a hint of sarcasm. You be the judge. Like Judge Judy!

Also, if you look at the IMDB's entry for this movie, under the Goofs section, you'll find this: "Two characters battle ferociously over an emergency stop button for the printing press, which is in a locked box. For safety reasons, all large printing presses have many easily accessible emergency stop buttons."

Am I the only one who thinks people that submit information like this are pricks?

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