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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
"A Dirty Shame" is a very welcome return for John Waters to the world of the sexually weird. What has been missing since his "Pink Flamingos" / "Female Trouble" days has returned in a blazing triumph. With Mink Stole in place and Tracy Ulman leading, this film takes the viewers into a world that only John Waters could create. Having watched the NC-17 version on DVD, Waters creates the misadventures of a group of sexual fiends that are awakened by a blow to the head. It's actually sex without the sex, but you would have to see it to believe it. Watch for a cameo by the one and only David Hasselhoff. The real "Dirty Shame" is that Devine was not alive to see it (or be in it).
Giving America a sex education that lasts 89 minutes. A great comedy,
documenting sex taboos that nobody wants to talk about, never mind
admit to knowing or doing. NOT for kids. This is for ADULTS who have
long found themselves and who are comfortable in their own skin.
The film features more sex fetishes than I can recall. I don't feel the rating should affect the popularity of the film. It will do as well as any R rated movie in terms of sales, maybe not right away, but as it moves to DVD, a lot of smaller rental stores should carry it. It's too bad that it got a black eye rating. But I guess it was the best thing to do to keep kids out, not that they won't get a copy of the movie to watch at home I am sure.
John Waters has taken elements of Dawn of the Dead (and perhaps a bit of Russ Meyers) and turned it into a parable on prudery. This idea has been done before (as a broader concept), but probably not with so much debauchery. Tracey Ullman totally rules and makes this movie. Whoever casted Johnny Knoxville as the sex-devil had clairvoyance. Generally excellent turns by all cast members, though Chris Isaak probably was coached to underplay his role and he missed an opportunity to be funnier. In contrast, Big Ethel (Ms. Shepherd) constantly overplayed her role in a shrill fashion and should have taken her cues from Mink Stole. I rated this movie 8/10 because it's constantly funny. Should have received an "R" rating rather than an NC-17.
From the seemingly quiet suburbia of Baltimore, John Waters cruelly
flashlights one of the basic characteristics of human society: the
endless struggle between the neuters and the sexed. In most of Waters'
previous films a fundamental conflict regarding different lifestyles is
described in his brilliant uncompromising way; usually this conflict is
underlined by the neuter/sexed idea. However, I feel that in this movie
his vision has matured to a clear definition of the problem he
As usual with Waters, the film is highly enjoyable and funny. The actors are superb and Waters' grasp of their individual grotesque nature is truly wonderful.
Not everyday do we see a film of substance which is also great fun!!! One thing, though: this film is not for everybody... I dare say, neuters are not likely to enjoy it!
John Waters is amazingly consistent over the years. Every third movie
he makes is brilliant... and this one was the third after Cecil B.
Demented and Pecker.
And yes, it's brilliant trash... but brilliant trash is still brilliant.
As campy as he gets in this film, Waters asks a very provocative question; why shouldn't we all be having sex with each other? Why is sex bad, dirty, forbidden? What are we so scared of when it makes us feel so good? Granted, this is not a film for folks on the right. In true Waters fashion, this flick is subversive in every possible way. Waters' contention is simple; deep down, we're all sex addicts, and it requires a head injury to knock some sense into (or maybe out of) us. We've learned to be inhibited, but underneath it all we've all got a drive to seek gratification, and whatever our "perversion" might be, there's someone else out there who shares it and can appreciate us for it.
Plus the whole thing is tons of fun. Waters manages to deliver a very deep question about modern human nature dressed up in hilarious candy coating. It's too bad that there are so many people who not only don't want to know the answer to his question (which he delivers by the end of the film), but are afraid to even ask the question.
Great stuff. I think this just made my personal top 50 list. See it with someone you love, or at least who shares your enthusiasm for plastic wrap and mayonnaise.
'A Dirty Shame' is a welcome return to form, or rather formlessness,
for John Waters, whose increasing technical polish since 'Hairspray'
generally hasn't resulted in more interesting (much less better)
film-making. Waters's early work rejected notions of technique; his
movies were always more about their ideas anyway. Still, his careless,
seat-of-your-pants style, and his habit of casting amateurs rather than
actors, combined to create a unique aesthetic universe . . . one which
probably has inspired more curiosity about Baltimore over the years
than any other aspect of that city's history or culture.
'A Dirty Shame' isn't as much of a return as hardcore fans might hope, and there won't ever be one as long as Divine stays dead, I suppose. Tracey Ullman does a pretty good job conjuring up her ghost, though, especially when she's driving around reacting to the depravity in her neighborhood, or showing the bus driver her 'p*ssy patch.' And Johnny Knoxville was born to do John Waters--as a larger-than-life 'performer' rather than an actor, he fits right in to Waters's Dreamland pantheon, and his circus-freak 'Jackass' association (and Tab Hunter looks) must warm the director's heart, too. But the real acting triumph is from all those community members, throwing themselves into their pro- and anti-sex roles with embarrassing gusto.
As for the ideas aspect of the film, there's unfortunately no real sustained satire or intelligence, and at the end the film just sort of peters out (so to speak). It's a little sad, really, because Waters used to manage biting social commentary so effortlessly, in films like 'Desperate Living,' and especially his masterpiece 'Polyester.' But what 'A Dirty Shame' does have is lots and lots and lots of gags (and they're a definite improvement on the limp ones in 'Cecil B. Demented," too). So if it's the sort of humor you like, you should be more than entertained. Recommended for early Waters fans particularly, of course. 7.5 out of 10.
I very rarely write reviews, but having watched this film - it took
four sittings - I felt I needed to warn others. There are no spoilers
in this review. Why four sittings? I had no choice to finish the movie
as I had it on my PMP and was recovering from an operation in hospital
- it was all I had left to watch. I am a fan of Mr Knoxville, but after
seeing this piece of disjointed, badly produced trash I am hard pushed
to see how I can continue being so... Johhny! What were you
thinking....? The money was not worth it!!! Chris Isaak does a good job
of being a wooden husband to the grossly overrated Tracy Ullman, I'm
hoping that this performance is a testament to his acting ability and
is not just due to him being accurately cast in this role. Tracy
Ullman, as usual, is awful. The woman cannot act and is basically
unfunny. Anyone whoever watched the US versions of the Tracy Ullman
Show has an inkling of what I am talking about - trust me, this is
worse. Her acting and comedic range seems to consist of gurning at the
camera while all the time trying to get over how "cute" she really is
Johnny Knoxville. What to say? I'd like to say that there was something redeeming in his portrayal of "Ray Ray Perkins", but frankly, there was nothing.
It almost seems that this movie set out to be a modern Rocky Horror, but without the opera aspect. There is decent enough music in the film, but it cannot rescue it from the dire script. This was a film that set out to make money from the Knoxville name, but got lost on the way. VERY LOST.
I'm known as a sucker for "Knob and Bott" jokes, especially visual ones, but these were beyond childish. This is the five-year-old's equivalent of seeing a banana and laughing "Look! It's a banana!" and then falling about laughing, but not knowing why. The writer could not begin to approach the cleverness of such classics as Beavis and Buthhead's "You said, 'Wiener', sounds like 'Wiener'" jokes!
This is pure Straight-To-Video dross. I had little choice but to watch it, I'm trying to save you a piece of your life that you can NEVER recover. Don't waste your time. Life is just too short.
I have been watching John Waters films since I was 12 and have always
loved his irregular style. From films like the sick "Pink Flamingoes"
to the outrageous "Cecil B. Demented", I have always thought he was a
great writer/director. "A Dirty Shame" is a John Waters film I had
never seen before up until now, and let me tell you, it isn't like any
of his other work.
Tracy Ullman plays Sylvia, an uptight woman who complains about everything and seems to be ultimately miserable. Chris Issac is her husband, Vaughn, who isn't getting enough bed action with his wife anymore. Selma Blair plays Caprice, their daughter who must have size "Z" breasts and is a sex addict. When Sylvia drives from her house one day to go to work she is knocked on the head and passes out. When she awakens, she is in the garage of a mechanic named Ray Ray (Johnny Knoxville) who is a sexual healer. She discovers that she too is a sex addict and that many of the people living in the neighborhood are also sex addicts. There are the few that aren't sex addicts and they are called the "Neuters". These are angry people who can't stand all the sex addicts and before they know it, the town is being run by the sex addicts.
This movie was a whole lot of fun. It actually reminded me a lot of Cronenberg's "Shivers" with all the sex crazed people taking over and turning everyone else into to sex crazed people. The big difference is John Waters is such a comedic mastermind, he takes a story that only could have been pulled off by him and does a much better job then you think. If you like John Waters films you should really enjoy this one. I know I did and I am a moderate/conservative! 9/10
The best scenes in this latest John Waters entry, are the ones early in
the film, when the "neuters" are complaining at the local convenience
store, about how smut is contaminating the neighborhood. Hearing Mink
Stole and Suzanne Shepherd trying to outdo each other with one
"shocking" discovery after the next, is pretty silly, and typical
Waters buildup. The satire works here because it's still believable.
Of course, being a John Waters film, there is usually the point (of many points) where things start to go over-the-top, and that is where the film either makes it or not. This film almost works, up until the very end. The final "c-l-i-m-a-x" of the film, leaves much to be desired, I'm afraid. The basically one-note joke would have been fine, except that it starts branching out into pure silliness. Satire is funny when it's sharp, and biting. This one builds up momentum, and then just nibbles.
The cast is all well chosen. Tracy Ullman is the best asset as the typical housewife who gets "the itch". Johnny Knoxville was rather impressive as Ray-Ray, but his screen time is limited. Chris Issac is also good as Ullman's husband, and the usual Waters alumni are here and fun to pick out from the rest. Suzanne Shepard is also worth noting. The funniest line in the movie, was when someone refers to her as a "tranny bear".
Not a bad film, but not Waters' best. Fans are bound to like it, but I can see how it would be tough to take for those who aren't. One of the biggest gripes I had about this movie, was that a lot of the sex jokes, which should have been funny, come off as academic and condescending. If they have to be explained, why bother?
I rented and watched the R-rated version of John Waters' "A Dirty
Shame" today (the NC-17 version wasn't carried at the rental store),
and ended up feeling let down and ripped-off. A lot of the language was
censored/dubbed (!?! In a John Waters film!?!) to make an R-rated
version that looked more like a G version; I think it could be shown on
TV as is! The R version is called the "Neuter Version", and Waters
authorized this watered-down film. Why? Starring Tracey Ullman, Johnny
Knoxville, Selma Blair, Chris Isaak, and Mink Stole, and with this
description on the rental box from Blockuster: "When a head injury
awakens Sylvia Stickles' long-dormant sexual urges, the entire town
gets caught up in the conflict between decency and depravity", and
knowing it's a John Waters film, I figured it would be great! Wrong. It
wasn't even funny, except for a few of Ullman's and Blair's moments,
and the censoring and dubbing of even the blandest nudity and profanity
was completely distracting and annoying. I felt as if I were watching a
regular edited-for-TV movie! I hope the NC-17 rated version is better,
but I guess the video store won't be carrying it. And since I've been
hoodwinked by this ridiculous rental version, I don't plan to go to the
trouble and expense to see the NC-17 version. And this disappointing
film just makes me want to pull out our copy of 1994's "Serial Mom" and
watch over and over the scene with Kathleen Turner letting loose with
her hilarious phone call.
The only reason this film deserves even one star is because of Tracey Ullman's great no-holds-barred performance, particularly in the scene in which she does the Hokey Pokey in an old folks' home.
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