Movie Reviews

Zac Efron & Nicole Kidman's New Movie Can Make Up For 45% Rotten Tomatoes Flop From 12 Years Ago


  • Zac Efron and Nicole Kidman are reuniting for the romcom A Family Affair, featuring a classic age-gap love story dynamic.
  • Their previous film collaboration, The Paperboy, received mixed reviews; Kidman’s performance still stood out.
  • A Family Affair aims for a better reception by focusing on the crowd-pleasing romcom formula with Efron and Kidman’s chemistry.



Zac Efron and Nicole Kidman are reuniting for a new movie, A Family Affair, and it looks to be a huge improvement over their critically panned flop from 2012. Set to be released on Netflix on June 28, 2024, A Family Affair is a romantic comedy directed by Richard LaGravenese and written by Carrie Solomon. Efron plays a movie star named Chris Cole and Joey King plays a young woman named Zara, who takes a job as his assistant. Their working relationship becomes complicated when Chris falls in love with Zara’s mother, played by Kidman.

The age-gap romance of A Family Affair sounds like it’ll fall into the same niche romcom subgenre as Prime Video’s The Idea of You, which similarly explores the story of a beloved young celebrity falling for an older woman. A Family Affair was originally set to be released on November 17, 2023, but it was delayed due to the Hollywood strikes. When it’s finally released in June, the actors will actually be able to promote it. It’ll be a joy to see Efron and Kidman in interviews together promoting the movie, but this isn’t their first cinematic collaboration.

A Family Affair Is Nicole Kidman & Zac Efron’s Second Movie Together After The Paperboy

Before reuniting to work on A Family Affair, Efron and Kidman had previously starred in The Paperboy in 2012. And not only that; Efron’s character fell in love with Kidman’s character in that one, too. Directed by The Butler’s Lee Daniels, The Paperboy is a crime thriller in which an idealistic Miami journalist, played by Matthew McConaughey, returns to his Floridian hometown to investigate a mysterious murder case involving a death-row inmate. Efron plays the reporter’s younger brother, Jack, while Kidman plays Charlotte Bless, a woman who fell in love with the man convicted of the murder.

This was at the height of McConaughey’s McConaissance comeback, right before he won an Academy Award for Dallas Buyers Club. The movie seemingly had everything going for it: a star-studded cast, an intriguing premise, and a great director with a proven track record. It was primed to be an awards-season hit. But its actual release was, unfortunately, a very different story. After premiering at Cannes Film Festival, The Paperboy was released in theaters on October 5, 2012. It received mostly negative reviews from critics and bombed at the box office.

The Paperboy
is based on the 1995 novel of the same name by Pete Dexter.

Why The Paperboy Only Has 45% On Rotten Tomatoes

The Paperboy has a “rotten” score of just 45% on Rotten Tomatoes. Most of the negative reviews claimed that The Paperboy favors style over substance. It has a lot of sex and violence – with the latter being so stylized that it plays as way over-the-top – with very little emotion or character development to back it up. While it sets out with the ambition to portray the bleakness of a life of crime and its inevitable consequences, its steamy sex scenes and heightened depiction of violence make it more exploitative than explorative.

Despite the largely negative reception to the film, Kidman’s performance was widely praised. She ended up netting nominations for Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild Awards. In both cases, she ended up losing to Anne Hathaway for her powerful turn as Fantine in Les Misérables, but the fact that Kidman was even nominated for such a critically panned film is impressive. Hopefully, with A Family Affair, it won’t be such an uphill battle to receive praise, since it’s going for more of a crowd-pleasing genre framework.

Why A Family Affair Should Be Better Than The Paperboy

Zac Efron and Nicole Kidman on the beach in The Paperboy

While there’s certainly a concern that history might repeat itself, A Family Affair is almost guaranteed a better reception than The Paperboy. A Family Affair is setting its sights a lot lower than The Paperboy. Whereas A Family Affair is just a high-concept romantic comedy, The Paperboy is a crime thriller about the dangers of a life of crime. By premiering at Cannes and hitting theaters in October, The Paperboy set out to be an Oscar contender, and the critics judged it as such.

It’s tricky to make a crime film that doesn’t sensationalize crime. Only the very best filmmakers, like Martin Scorsese, are able to create moralistic parables within the crime genre. Romcoms are a lot easier to pull off. If they follow the tried-and-true formula and cast two actors who have great chemistry, then they’ll please the target audience. A Family Affair has Efron and Kidman, who have proven chemistry, so it’ll be just fine.

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