The Washington Post

Nicole Kidman, Zac Efron and the response to the raciness in ‘The Paperboy’

So, uh, the movie “The Paperboy” — a new film from writer-director Lee Daniels (“Precious”) that stars Nicole Kidman, Zac Efron, Matthew McConaughey and John Cusack — screened last night at the Cannes Film Festival.

View Photo Gallery: Festival in France begins with “Moonrise Kingdom,” Sacha Baron Cohen stunt.

And a lot of people are buzzing about it because it’s got some tawdry, racy stuff in it.

Which is a long way of acknowledging that ... well ... I am not sure how to put this delicately so I’ll just say it: Nicole Kidman urinates on Zac Efron.

To be fair, based on this account from Vulture, she does it because he has been attacked by a jellyfish. But she also does it because she plays a sexed-up woman who is both fixated on an attempted murderer (Cusack) and also a bit possessive of Efron’s character, who has the hots for her.

“If anyone’s gonna pee on him, it’s gonna be me,” Kidman reportedly shouts in the film, shooing away other females who might be eager to neutralize Efron’s stings. Vulture describes this moment as “only the sixteenth weirdest thing to happen in the movie.”

More Cannes coverage:

Ann Hornaday on Cannes 2012: Stalled in the past

Brad Pitt debuts ‘Killing Them Softly’

It seems that what we have here, ladies and gentlemen, is a.) the movie quote of the year, 2012’s admittedly grosser version of “I drink your milkshake” (ugh, sorry for the drink reference in this context); b.) a surefire way to snag attention for this film; and c.) a piece of work that will undoubtedly polarize audiences and critics. Oh, and also d.): a recipe for this movie to get an unsavory nickname. (Is it being called “The Pee-perboy” yet? Because if it isn’t, that is inevitable.)

Some critics and reporters already seemed polarized within their own reviews of “The Paperboy.”

Guy Lodge from Hitfix describes the film as “ballsy, bonkers, sporadically dreadful but obnoxiously alive,” and praises Kidman’s performance for being “more sexually strident and earthily funny than she’s been since ‘To Die For.’ ”

The Hollywood Reporter’s Todd McCarthy relies on adjectives like “appealingly rough and rasty” but also throws some major compliments Efron’s way as well. “It’s the first big-screen part Efron has handled with skill and conviction; he’s quite good in it,” he writes.

James Rocchi at Indiewire, however, is not conflicted about it. Not at all. He calls it, “a lurid, florid, humid, flaccid and insipid waste of time and money for the audience and for everyone who made it.” That is one of the more succinct rants in his review.

No release date for the film has been set, but once it is, you’d better believe the sleazier moments in the film will be played up for maximum press coverage. (Look! Right here! It’s already working!)

Yes, there’s one thing you can count on in this life: When the star of “Moulin Rouge” relieves herself on the kid from “High School Musical,” people will pay attention.

That was the old slogan for E.F. Hutton, wasn’t it?

When she isn’t at a movie theater or writing about movies, Jen Chaney is ... um ... probably at home, watching a movie.


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