This is how we used to do it back in ’94! Papers, baby! Papers!
Two white businessmen are found dead in their car randomly in the middle of the night, and eventually leads to two young, African American teenagers getting arrested for supposedly being the culprits in this case. As soon as this news breaks out, every newspaper joint in all of the NYC area is on top of it, especially The New York Sun and one ambitious-reporter in particular: Henry Hackett (Michael Keaton). Not only does Hackett have a very pregnant wife (Marisa Tomei) at home, but he’s also got an editor (Glenn Close) that’s constantly up his ass about everything, a bigger boss (Robert Duvall) that can’t seem to get his life in check, a job-opportunity at a more prestigious newspaper, and a paranoid co-worker of his (Randy Quaid) that won’t leave him alone. On top of that, Hackett also has to find a way to break this story, and as honestly as possible. However, when you work in a business where most news is fabricated in order to make money and sell products, honesty is not as easy as it comes.
The main reason why I wanted to give this flick a try was because I too am a journalism major, will be looking for a quick writing job as soon as I get that degree, and to get the hell out of college. Maybe back in and around the time this flick was out, that could have been totally possible, but nowadays, it seems easier said then actually done. Yes, it’s not a single surprise to any one out there that newspapers are starting to go away more and more, as each and everyday goes by, and it’s a sad fact. However, it’s a fact nonetheless and still doesn’t get inspired, young writers like myself down in the dumps. Maybe once I actually get out there and start looking around for journalism jobs, then yeah, maybe I’ll get all pissed off and cynical in my own way, but for now: I remain hopeful, happy, and ready to see what comes next with my life and the career I want to have.
Thanks to this movie, I want that career even more now. However, I just may not get it. Still got to stay realistic above all else.
Even though I have never been in a newsroom before, I still feel like Ron Howard gets the atmosphere and the mood down pretty well. Everybody in this flick is constantly moving, trying to get more information down from whomever they can receive it from, and by any means possible. Howard gives this movie a jolt right from the beginning and it never lets up, basically allowing you to feel as if you are right there as more information about this main story begins to come out, as well as more details and information about these characters as well. The movie is mainly about the breaking-news story that this paper’s trying to cover, with any shred of dignity and respect, but Howard also doesn’t let the quick pace get to us too much. This is about the people that work in the newsrooms, put their bodies and minds on the line for 24-hours-a-day, working their assess off, and just hoping that they have a good enough story that will either: a) get their story on the front-page, b) get their names noticed and more recognition, and/or c) prove to the world that they can do what they love to do, get paid for it, and also having something to show off to your buddies and family as well.
There’s not many movies out there that really celebrate that type of attribute you can have, loving the work that you do. Mainly with journalism movies that more or less show journalists for being a bunch of cad-like, a-holes that take any story they can, spin it directly on its head, and don’t ever worry about hurting any one’s reputation or feelings. The movie touches on that subject a bit, but never goes deep enough to where we hate the hell out of the profession of being a journalist, and instead, makes you want to be one even more. Then again, that’s probably just my feelings and mine alone. Most likely is, but just think about it: Wouldn’t it be so cool to get paid for writing about stories, or simply covering the news? The same news that everybody already knows by now, but still reads it just to find out something new or cool about it? I don’t know. Maybe it’s just me who thinks that’s rad, but so be it. I’m used to it by now.
Of course the movie does get darker and darker as it goes along, and starts to show more cracks in the relationships between all of these co-workers, and that’s where I felt like the film started to lose its balance. Not that I didn’t mind that Howard felt the need to get a little dramatic with the material, but he did it in such a way that seemed like it came from a completely, different movie altogether. One second, you have “The Keatmeister” telling somebody head-honcho from another newspaper, to “fuck off” in every which way possible, all for our pleasure and amusement, and then the next second, you have a scene of him and Glenn Close duking it out. And I don’t mean just a simple bunch of slaps and blows, I mean they really beat the shit out of each other. Came out of nowhere and although I do realize the point that Howard was trying to get across, he did it in such an over-the-top way, that it didn’t fit in at all with the rest of the frantic speed of the rest of the flick.
But keeping this movie altogether, one and for all, is non-other than “The Keatmeister” himself. Everybody loves seeing Michael Keaton pop-up in anything he so chooses nowadays, and it makes me sad to see him in stuff like this, knowing that the dude deserved so much more material than he actually got. Of course he was Batman, some say the best of all-time, but he still never got to be that household name I think we would all love and adore. Here though, he proves himself once again as a leading man, and one very capable at not only getting us to love him because he’s funny and charming, but because he also feels like a nice enough dude that will end up telling the story in the most honest way possible. The movie never goes deep enough with his character or the situation he’s been thrown into, but that doesn’t matter because Keaton is the man and makes any piece of material, shitty or not, worth watching.
The rest of the cast is pretty awesome too, and helps out the rest of the movie whenever they are called on to do so. Even though I thought her character was a bit too much of a bitch to get along with anybody, let alone fellow news-reporters, I still thought Glenn Close was good as the senior editor of the paper that didn’t quite take anybody’s shit, and also gave everybody a piece of her mind when she felt was necessary. It’s never made clear to us why her and Keaton’s character have so many problems with one another, but they make it work for the most part and it’s an underlining tension that you feel throughout the whole flick, especially when they’re in the same room together. Robert Duvall fits the role of the aging, sad owner of the newspaper like a glove and never lets you forget about his pain or to have you feel it as well. Randy Quaid is good as the paranoid buddy of Henry, even though we’ve seen him do this role about 100,000,000 times by now. And last, but certainly not least by a hundred miles away, we have Marisa Tomei as Henry’s loving, but terribly pregnant wife who wants him around more, but just can’t seem to wrap her head around the fact that he loves his job so much. Tomei is always a lovable presence to have in a flick, and despite her character’s constant-nagging, she never gets tiresome or annoying to see on screen. We always enjoy seeing her and want more.
Consensus: It may not go any deeper than saying “Journalists Rule!”, but The Paper, at least for this aspiring writer/journalist, makes you feel like you already have the job, are right there as everything’s happening, and allows you to have a good time as well.
7.5 / 10 = Rental!!!