CANNES - Here are a few things you should know about "The Paperboy," the humid, lurid and exuberantly ludicrous new thriller from Lee "Precious" Daniels -- that is, if the swarm of dumbfounded Twitter chatter about the film hasn't informed you already. It features Nicole Kidman bitch-fighting a group of sunbathers for the privilege of urinating on Zac Efron's jellyfish sting, triumphing with the immediately immortal line, "If anybody's gonna piss on him, it's gonna be me!" It features Zac Efron dancing in the rain clad in nothing but a pair of tighty-whiteys rapidly losing their opacity. It features a close-up of Nicole Kidman's panty-covered crotch, as she publicly masturbates in front of three other men during a prison visit. It features Macy Gray as a weary, sass-talking Southern maid, her omniscient narration musing idly on the inappropriateness of a Kidman/Efron sex scene. Another sex scene, meanwhile, is punctuated with cutaways to alligators and grazing hogs.
By this point -- and make no mistake, I've scarcely skimmed through my notes here -- you've either made a mental note to be doing charity work in Eritrea when the film hits theaters, or you're already on the advance-booking hotline. On either score, you should probably trust your instincts. Critics can argue back and forth as to the level of knowingness at play here, but “The Paperboy” is a film built on its distended absurdities and polyester styling – certainly more than Pete Dexter’s cracking, tonally far slinkier, source novel, which comes in for some brutal renovation here, presumably more at Daniels’ hand than his own. (Both are credited as co-writers.)