Starring: Michael Keaton, Glenn Close, Marisa Tomei
Director: Ron Howard
Running Time: 112 mins
The Paper is an American film about a chaotic day in the life of a New York tabloid, and the obstacles faced by its driven journalists who balance finding the latest story with their own personal commitments.
There are heaps of great movies about the world of print journalism, from All The President’s Men to Spotlight and The Post. But those movies all deal with newspapers covering real-life historical events, taking away the possibility for a more imaginative and unique story, such as what The Paper strikes up.
Looking far more closely at the inner workings of a daily newspaper than almost any other film, The Paper blends gripping insight with exhilarating pacing, thrilling energy, captivating drama and brilliant humour, all of which makes it a hugely entertaining watch, and one that really stands out among its peers in this cinematic subgenre.
There’s a lot that makes The Paper work really well, but it’s the film’s almost relentless pacing that provides the biggest entertainment of all. Following an ambitious journalist (Michael Keaton) who will stop at nothing to get his story published on the front page by the time the paper goes to print, it’s quite incredible just how thrilling this film is to watch at times.
It’s not necessarily nail-biting, but the movie combines a comical view of the chaotic day-to-day at the newspaper with genuinely gripping and often thought-provoking themes on the importance and role of print journalism in modern society, giving the story some real stakes that make it properly exciting to watch.
Couple that with the film’s impressive range of characters and even more impressive depth of focus on characters’ personal lives, and you have a story that’s genuinely fascinating in every dimension. With challenging drama that sees characters balance their own motivations against personal commitments and professional ethics, this is much than just a tale of bagging a great headline for the paper.
And that’s what I loved so much about The Paper. On the surface, it’s a great film about print journalism that’s both a captivating insight into the profession, as well as a genuinely exciting and dramatically engaging story with well-developed characters, gripping stakes and entertaining high theatrics.
It may not be quite as philosophically resonant as the likes of Network, nor is it as down-to-earth as the likes of Spotlight, but The Paper strikes a really nice balance between entertaining and imaginative storytelling and gripping drama that bears strong relevance to the real world. Bolstered by great humour, strong performances and electric pacing, the film is a great watch throughout, and that’s why I’m giving it a 7.9 overall.