Director Ron Howard is a master craftsman at taking the viewer
into another profession - remember how you felt the terror of being a
fireman in BACKDRAFT? In THE PAPER you enter the newspaper world. You
and your colleagues have a half a day to get the front page story right
and scoop your competition.
The movie starts at a good clip, but by the end, you are on a
roller coaster ride as the background investigative reporting just is
not happening fast enough to get to the 8pm press run. By the end,
your heart is racing. Wonderful images as the building actually shakes
every time the big presses run. Although not technically realistic
perhaps, it remains a perfect metaphor.
At a surface level, THE PAPER is a comedy. I laughed out loud
constantly. The script is extremely funny and Michael Keaton, as the
Metro Editor, delivers the lines as only he can. The newsroom scene
where they are deciding on the lead story for tomorrow is great. The
ripostes between Keaton, his boss (Glenn Close) and her boss (Robert
Duvall) are classics. You feel like you are there and arguing with
Keaton's wife (charmingly played by Marisa Tomei) is a reporter on
maternity leave about to have a baby. This story within the larger
story was touching and had me crying some by the end. You see, I think
the movie ultimately is not a comedy - although it is extremely funny.
This is a first rate drama. It simultaneously made me want to work day
and night for a newspaper like this to get out the daily big story
while at the same time it made me want to take it easy and enjoy my
family as the only thing in life that really matters.
Okay, it is not perfect. Keaton's boss (Close) comes in to chew
him out for something, and he interrupts her with the line "first, let
me say how great you look". In real life, this could get you in BIG
trouble. The cops are evil and in stupid ways. I did not buy that
part of the plot. The scene by the presses works great in the movie
but would never happen that way in the real world. But, this is a
movie and a darn good one. If I just wanted to see real life, I would
have gone to the mall.
THE PAPER races along at 1:52 thanks to superlative editing by
Daniel P. Hanley and Michael J. Hilland. It is rated R, but I
thought it should have been PG-13. Certainly everyone above the age of
say 10 should love it. I give it *** 1/2 and strongly recommend it to
Copyright © 1995 Steve Rhodes