Paperboys review

:. Director: Mike Mills
:. Genre: Documentary
:. Running Time: 0:58
:. Year: 2001
:. Country: USA


This DVD put out by the folks at Palm Pictures is certainly one of the weirdest DVDs I've ever seen—and I've seen weird stuff. The main feature, Paperboys, a documentary which clocks in at a mere 40mn, offers a glimpse at the lives of a group of paperboys in some bland suburb in the middle of nowhere.

The filmmaker interviews and follows kids from different sizes, ages and social classes. As different as they look, I wasn't able to learn anything more than the fact that most of them ride their bikes fast, wear football jerseys, are obsessed with wrestling and think that in 20 years they will be replaced by some automatic process—maybe even by robots. The piece is pretty unbalanced time-wise, spending more time with the first paperboy than any of the others, and neither the style nor the content—nor its treatment—are that interesting; a fact even more surprising given that the author, Mike Mills, is a graphic designer and music video director known for his edgy collaborations with "avant-garde" acts such as Sonic Youth, the Beastie Boys, Air, Beck and Moby.

Fairly disappointed, I then decided to venture into the extras and to my surprise, after the kid-friendly Paperboys, I discovered Deformer, his provocative 17mn documentary about skateboarding artist Ed Templeton. The piece is a montage that gives a pretty disturbing portrait of Templeton, a typical Huntington Beach—a.k.a. surf city—bum, who shares with us his thoughts, which border on insanity and pedophilia, his photo shoots and paintings of nude models as well as some intimate—and X-rated—polaroids of him and his girlfriend. Widely contrasting with Paperboys and more amusing than shocking, Deformer came closer to the idea I had of Mills, allowing me to quickly digest Paperboys.

  Fred Thom

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