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Dirty Deeds (2005)
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by Todd LaPlace

"I need a shower."
1 stars

Maybe I grew up a sheltered prude, but I don’t remember throwing impromptu parties and getting a steady stream of hot girls to get naked in my bed, but according to pretty much every teen movies that gets rolled off the assembly line, this kind of stuff happens all the time. “Dirty Deeds” is no different, as this cookie cutter movie swipes bits and pieces from all of its predecessors, mixes in a large helping of gross-out humor and churns out an unrecognizable paste of wasted talent and stagnant story. This may be as bad as it gets.

If you’ve ever wondered what would happen if a bunch of professional baseball players produced a movie about high school hijinks, wonder no further! Instead bask in the “glory” that is “Dirty Deeds,” the debut feature of frequent Disney Channel and Nickelodeon director David Kendall who’s slumming his way through this filthy, gross-out, unimagined teen comedy.

High school senior Zach (“Gilmore Girls’s” Milo Ventimiglia) is one of those “classic” (re: trite) teen rebels that revolts by writing stuff like “I.A.B.” on school banners — ooh, how badass. But when freshman friend Kyle (Wes Robinson) gets tormented/tricked into agreeing to do the “dirty deeds,” a list of 10 relatively tame and reasonably lame stunts, Zach is forced to step in and invoke seniority. Those who complete the list are rewarded with small town infamy, but those who fail are publicly mocked by the prototypical jock clique that runs the school. Everyone seems to know already that agreeing to do the list is a pretty asinine endeavor, including Zach who battles the jocks with fully-armed sarcasm and an overripe sense of superiority.

The problem with “Dirty Deeds” is it plays like the PG-13 carbon copy of a photocopy of a remake of a reproduction of R-rated movies like “American Pie” and “The 40-Year-Old Virgin,” which are themselves copies of copies of “Porkys” and “Animal House.” Sure, there are a few teen girls in romping in bras, plenty of underage drinking and even a little erotic time with a loaf of wheat bread, but it covered the gross-out and forgot the laughs. When Zach goes to complete Deed No. 7 (steal a racist and gun-happy old security guard’s wooden leg), Kyle’s older sister and school valedictorian Meg (Lacey Chabert) comes to his rescue by flashing the guard (Charles Durning). Kendall and his rookie screenwriters, Jon Land and Jonathan Thies, seem to think that a hilarious follow-up scene would involve reporting the theft and the guard admitting that although he was starring directly at her, he wasn’t looking at her face. Huh, so guys like boobs. You know, it’s that kind of subtle comic genius that makes this movie such a winner.

But among all the film’s problems (most of which revolve around the movie being terribly cliché), perhaps the biggest faux pas was not having any guts. The film may be titled “Dirty Deeds,” but it’s only half right. These deeds — which range from drinking a beer in front of a cop to punching the biggest, baddest bully to locating a particular bra — are definitely far from dirty, no matter how badly everyone wants them to be. Whenever Zach completes a deed, the rest of the school (who meanwhile are throwing a huge, spontaneous and reasonably tame party) goes wild, even though all he did was drag a balloon from a car lot to the football field. Maybe it’s no coincidence that these lightweights’ school (West Valley High) so closely resembles a collection of tween girl books. If this is all the fun these kids can muster, I’m really happy I’ve already graduated.

Maybe it’s just the “Gilmore Girls” fan in me (if you haven’t watched it, you don’t understand its brilliance), but I really wanted to like this picture. Ventimiglia, who lost the girl on TV to milquetoast Jared Padalecki (now seen on “Supernatural”), is vastly superior to the schlock Hollywood keeps shoveling his way. I just really hope he gets something better than this soon, because “Dirty Deeds” is as bad as the teen genre can get, which is definitely saying something.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=12864&reviewer=401
originally posted: 08/20/06 16:27:53
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USA
  26-Aug-2005 (PG-13)
  DVD: 10-Jan-2006

UK
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