Screened at the Toronto International Film Festival
The Tony-winning success of Hairspray
might have made him a mainstream darling, but John Waters has returned to trashy form with what is unquestionably his most outrageous film since those heady Pink Flamingos
A giddy sex farce starring Tracey Ullman
as a repressed Baltimore resident (where else?) who turns into a raging sex maniac after receiving a freak head injury, this overheated ode to depravity and general bad taste kicks some silly smut in the face of today's conservative-leaning, post-wardrobe-malfunction society.
Granted, Waters has problems keeping it up -- the content really struggles to sustain a feature-length format -- but the picture, wearing its NC-17 rating like a badge of dishonor, should nevertheless emerge as his best boxoffice bet since 1994's Serial Mom
Ullman is Sylvia Stickles, a generally unhappy woman with a horny husband (Chris Isaak
) and a go-go dancer daughter with ridiculously enlarged breasts (an unrecognizable Selma Blair
) and a stage name of Ursula Udders, whose bouts of exhibitionism have landed her in home detention.
One day en route to her family-operated Pinewood Park and Pay convenience store, Sylvia sustains a smack in the head that turns her into a card-carrying sex addict around the same time she's spotted by writhing tow-truck driver Ray-Ray Perkins (Johnny Knoxville
-- a Watersian name if there ever was one), who believes her to be the long-awaited 12th apostle of erotic awakening.
While Ray-Ray, whose battle cry is "Let's go sexin'!" inducts her into his inner circle of fetishists, Sylvia's mother, Big Ethel (Suzanne Shepherd
), along with libido-hating neighbor Marge the Neuter (Mink Stole
), launch a campaign to take back their neighborhood from all the disgusting deviants.
Taking his stylistic cue from cautionary movies like Reefer Madness
and old high school health films, Waters also throws vintage sexploitation flicks and musty nudist camp clips into the naughty mix, while his longtime production designer Vincent Peranio
heightens the kitschy landscape with suggestive-looking foliage.
Waters also spent a lot of time coming up with wacky euphemisms like "yodeling in the canyon," while Ullman's Stickles refers to a part of her anatomy as her "axis of evil."
There also seems to be nothing too taboo for the rest of his willing cast, which also includes Patricia Hearst
(in her fifth Waters film) and David Hasselhoff
in a sequence so tasteless the late Divine would have smiled approvingly.
Fine Line Features presents This Is That Killer Films/John Wells production
In association with City Light Pictures
A John Waters film
Director-screenwriter: John Waters
Producers: Christine Vachon
, Ted Hope
Executive Producers: Mark Ordesky
, Mark Kaufman, Merideth Finn, John Wells, The Fisher Brothers
Director of photography: Steve Gainer
Production designer: Vincent Peranio
Editor: Jeffrey Wolf
Costume designer: Van Smith
Music: George S. Clinton
Music supervisor: Tracy McKnight
Sylvia Stickles: Tracey Ullman
Ray-Ray Perkins: Johnny Knoxville
Caprice Stickles: Selma Blair
Vaughn Stickles: Chris Isaak
Big Ethel: Suzanne Shepherd
Marge the Neuter: Mink Stole
Paige: Patricia Hearst
Dora: Jackie Hoffman
Himself: David Hasselhoff
Running time -- 89 minutes
MPAA Rating: NC-17