The backward world of tabloid newspaper publishing gets a superficially scathing treatment from director Ron Howard in The Paper. An all-star cast signed up for the effort, but ended up portraying a newsroom full of stock characters: the power-hungry bitch (Glenn Close), the alcoholic columnist who sleeps on couches (Randy Quaid), the excitable hotshot (Michael Keaton), the aging chain smoker (Robert Duvall), the greenhorn photographer elbowed aside by the competition (Amelia Campbell). Howard does do a good job weaving them together, making for not only a bustling workplace but a downright bustling movie, full of enough kinetic energy to give laymen some idea of the nuts and bolts behind the newsprint. But his efforts at Network-style satire fall short due to too much innate heart and sentiment that the director just can't purge. The film develops kind of a plastic quality, and not only because the performers are so agog and because David and Stephen Koepp's screenplay is replete with "big moments," including someone shouting the mythical (and ridiculously costly) command "Stop the presses!" on two separate occasions. There's so much exaggerated milking of situations and characters that Howard's obligatory message about truth vs. circulation gets lost in the shuffle, leaving the audience shaking their heads at the unsympathetic caricatures. The Paper is redeemed somewhat by genuinely funny moments, especially Close's reaction to an underling's major blunder: "You are so #@%!? fired."
by Derek Armstrong review