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Palm Pictures presents
Paperboys (2003)

"The world is getting better, but it's getting worse."
- Andrew, a Minnesota paperboy

Review By: Jon Danziger   
Published: February 11, 2004

Stars: Tyler Rowen, Brandon Kindschy, Nick Judkins, Andrew Merton, Donnie Foster, Greg Gonisor
Director: Mike Mills

MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Run Time: 00h:41m:33s
Release Date: December 03, 2003
UPC: 031398108542
Genre: documentary

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer

DVD Review

The paperboy is a pastoral image in American culture, something straight out of Norman Rockwell: the earnest young fellow on the verge of adolescence, industriously peddling along on his bicycle as he flings today's news onto the porches of his neighbors. In many parts of the country, the paperboy has gone the way of the milkman or the Fuller brushman, as we get our news from television, or the web, or from a paper flung out of an S.U.V. scaring the hell out of the dogs in the neighborhood. But the species of paperboy isn't entirely extinct—so just what are today's paperboys up to? That's the question posed by this stylish documentary, which doesn't shed a whole lot of light or offer a terrific amount of insight; but it appreciates many of the virtues of paperboys that they, a vanishing breed, exemplify.

The filmmakers visit with the paperboys of Stillwater, Minnesota, and other than their routes, they seem like a pretty typical bunch of kids. Their ages range from 11 to 14, they're decked out in the requisite Brett Favre and Randy Moss jerseys, and their interests are what you might expect: Nintendo, sports, rap. America doesn't get much whiter than Stillwater, it seems, so it's a little odd to hear Dr. Dre blasting out of these kids' stereos; but then, it's been years and years since rap has been a merely urban phenomenon. The interviewer has a nice, gentle manner with the boys, but really, it's not very interesting, since basically for thirty minutes or so each afternoon they just fling newspapers at other people's houses.

It's a beautifully shot movie, though, and at times may remind you of Blue Velvet in its visual style; Mike Mills' movie is decidedly fetishistic about its look. There isn't a seamy underbelly to Stillwater, however; things don't get much more outrageous than the fact that one of the paperboys, Andrew, loves Stone Cold Steve Austin and is being home schooled by his mother. The soundtrack pulses with some of the music that the boys listen to; all in all, it's more of a tone poem about a small slice of American life. There's nothing wrong with that, of course, but it doesn't make this a gripping movie-watching experience.

Rating for Style: B
Rating for Substance: C


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: It's a lush and rich transfer, with only a few blemishes; also, occasionally you can see the boom microphone dip into frame, but that's a production problem, not one with the film being ported over to DVD.

Image Transfer Grade: B


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishno

Audio Transfer Review: Nothing too spectacular to listen to here; a reasonably clean transfer, though the dynamics occasionally sound out of whack, with the boys' rather thin voices difficult to make out over some of the music on the soundtrack.

Audio Transfer Grade: B-


Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 7 cues and remote access
6 Other Trailer(s) featuring The Director's Label series, The Revenge of the Robots, The Eye, Stoked, Demonlover, The Housekeeper
1 Documentaries
Weblink/DVD-ROM Material
Packaging: Amaray
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: The principal extra is Deformer (16m:26s), another documentary by Mike Mills; this one is a profile of Ed Templeton, a god of sorts in skateboarding circles, apparently. (The same documentary can be found on The Best of Resfest, Volume 1.) Templeton is also an artist, and his principal subject is his wife, Deanna; he likes to paint her naked. A lot. The movie works best as a community portrait, of Huntington Beach, CA, and the filmmaker obviously adores the Templetons; but that doesn't really get translated to the screen. If Ed and Deanna are happy, then God bless them for that, but what's here isn't all that impressive, really.

Also on hand are a barrel of trailers and weblinks; curiously, the film is unrated, but the disc itself bears the MPAA "R" symbol.

Extras Grade: C


Final Comments

A handsomely made documentary that's a little light on content, Paperboys runs a scant forty minutes or so, and provides some visual splendor in that short time—and that's about all.


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