It was the trickle of pee heard around the world. Cannes attendees were aghast and/or amused an infamous scene from The Paperboy that shows Nicole Kidman urinating on Zac Efron; this is apparently a great salve for jellyfish burns which were covering our Ken Doll-like protagonist. (In fact the term protagonist should be used very loosely for Efron's character Jack who is mostly acted upon than active throughout.)
Lurid! Sexy! Perverse! Trashy! Whether or not it's actually effective is overshadowed by all the hubbub that's attached itself to the movie for better or worse. In fact the movie is all of these things — but that's actually not a compliment. What could have become somethingmemorable is jaw-droppingly bad (when it's not hilarious). Director Lee Daniels uses a few different visual styles throughout from a stark black and white palette for a crime scene recreation at the beginning to a '70s porno aesthetic that oscillates between psychedelic and straight-up sweaty with an emphasis on Efron's tighty-whiteys. This only enhances the sloppiness of the script which uses lines like narrator/housekeeper/nanny Anita's (Macy Gray) "You ain't tired enough to be retired " to conjure up the down-home wisdom of the South. Despite Gray's musical talents she is not a good choice for a narrator or an actor for that matter. In a way — insofar as they're perhaps the only female characters given a chunk of screen time — her foil is Charlotte Bless Nicole Kidman's character. Anita is the mother figure who wears as we see in an early scene control-top pantyhose whereas Charlotte is all clam diggers and Barbie doll make-up. Or as Anita puts it "an oversexed Barbie doll."
The slapdash plot is that Jack's older brother Ward (Matthew McConaughey) comes back to town with his colleague Yardley (David Oyelowo) to investigate the case of a death row criminal named Hillary Van Wetter. Yardley is black and British which seems to confuse many of the people he meets in this backwoods town. Hillary (John Cusack) hidden under a mop of greasy black hair) is a slack-jawed yokel who could care less if he's going to be killed for a crime he might or might not have committed. He is way more interested in his bride-to-be Charlotte who has fallen in love with him through letters — this is her thing apparently writing letters and falling in love with inmates — and has rushed to help Ward and Yardley free her man. In the meantime we're subjected to at least one simulated sex scene that will haunt your dreams forever. Besides Hillary's shortcomings as a character that could rustle up any sort of empathy the case itself is so boring it begs the question why a respected journalist would be interested enough to pursue it.
The rest of the movie is filled with longing an attempt to place any the story in some sort of social context via class and race even more Zac Efron's underwear sexual violence alligator innards swamp people in comically ramshackle homes and a glimpse of one glistening McConaughey 'tock. Harmony Korine called and he wants his Gummo back.
It's probably tantalizing for this cast to take on "serious" "edgy" work by an Oscar-nominated director. Cusack ditched his boombox blasting "In Your Eyes" long ago and Efron's been trying to shed his squeaky clean image for so long that he finally dropped a condom on the red carpet for The Lorax so we'd know he's not smooth like a Ken doll despite how he was filmed by Daniels. On the other hand Nicole Kidman has been making interesting and varied career choices for years so it's confounding why she'd be interested in a one-dimensional character like Charlotte. McConaughey's on a roll and like the rest of the cast he's got plenty of interesting projects worth watching so this probably won't slow him down. Even Daniels is already shooting a new film The Butler as we can see from Oprah's dazzling Instagram feed. It's as if they all want to put The Paperboy behind them as soon as possible. It's hard to blame them.
Rest assured, X-philes. Conspiracy theories, paranormal activities, unexplained phenomena -- the stuff that keeps Mulder, Sculley, and "X-Files" fanatics going -- are about to find another outlet on network TV.
While the fate of the popular Fox sci-fier is still up in the air, the network is officially rolling out plans to keep the spirit of paranoia alive in another form. So who's in charge of picking up the truth-seeking torch? Three subterranean computer geeks irregularly showcased on the sci-fi series, known as the Lone Gunmen (a k a actors Bruce Harwood , Tom Braidwood and Dean Haglund).
Top honchos at Fox confirmed on Thursday that a pilot for an "X-Files" spin-off, featuring the conspiracy-obsessed trio, has been given the go-ahead. The show's being considered for the 2000-2001 prime-time season.
Created by "X-Files" architect Chris Carter and series behind-the-sceners Frank Spotnitz, Vince Gilligan and John Shiban, the offshoot is said to be a light drama with an aura of quirkiness. And even though the tenuous romance angle à la Mulder and Sculley won't be reproduced, the show will reportedly introduce similar sexual tension in the form of a competing female conspiracy theorist whom the Lone Gunmen lust after -- and resent.
In the midst of all the hubbub surrounding the spin-off, someone from the Fox and Carter camp apparently forgot to notify the Gunmen themselves. Dean Haglund, the guy with the long-hair heavy-metal do who plays Langley, took his head-scratching confusion to The Lone Gunmen fansite (http://www.deanx.com/buzz.htm) when he heard words of a "X-Files" spin-off in which he, and his other two cohorts, are tapped to be the leads. He wrote:
"I'm sure that many of you now have read about the Television Critics Association's (Hence known as the TCA) afternoon session with the heads of Fox television where they announced that Chris Carter was planning a spin-off of the lone Gunmen.
"... Anyway, we are at this thing and we have to work later that night so we have to leave early but, basically, everyone crowds around the three of us and asked us about the spin off. Now there has been a half joking rumor about this for the longest time so it was with reflex action that we all spoke to the press telling them that there was nothing to it. Then they said that the President of Fox just said so."
No word yet if Haglund and his crew are working on some sort of elaborate conspiracy theory regarding what the Lone Gunmen might call the spin-off cover-up.