The Paperboy

Perhaps you have heard that “The Paperboy” is the movie in which Nicole Kidman pees on Zac Efron. That does happen — it’s to soothe a jellyfish sting, so maybe not quite as kinky as you thought/hoped — but to focus on that one scene is to overlook all the other overwrought and laughably bizarre elements contained in this faux-artsy hot mess of a movie.

Directed by Lee Daniels (“Precious”) from a screenplay he and Peter Dexter adapted from Dexter’s 1995 novel, “The Paperboy” is almost a coming-of-age drama about a Florida teenager (Efron) in the early ’70s who falls in love with a trashy older woman (Kidman) who’s working with the teen’s journalist brother (Matthew McConaughey) to exonerate a convicted murderer (John Cusack). I say “almost” because that basic plot description is overwhelmed by the nutty details, many of which are funny but few of which are supposed to be: embarrassing sexual encounters, family secrets, the teen’s odd relationship with his maid (Macy Gray), an alligator-gutting, racial tensions, and more. The sweaty, lurid, self-serious nonsense is hard to take seriously, but I’ll say this much for the film: it ain’t boring. 

C (1 hr., 47 min.; R, some harsh profanity, graphic sexuality, graphic violence, some nudity.)