Dirty Shame, A

Reviewed By Erik Childress
Posted 09/24/04 14:32:11

"The Foreplay Shouldn’t Be Better Than The Sex"
3 stars (Average)

SCREENED AT THE 2004 TORONTO INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL: There are two types of people in this world: Those who know what a Dirty Sanchez is and those who don’t. No it has nothing to do with the shell man at the nearest Taco Bell anymore than a Chili Dog does with a local Portillo’s. Boston Steamers are not Red Sox fans, Tootsie Rolls are something more than what’s sold by the VFW and Rocking the Side Pipe is not a plumber’s term. John Waters probably has a poster with all these definitions hanging somewhere in his home and his latest film plays like a dictionary of these terms left on a Convent’s doorstep. Ringing the doorbell is pretty funny, listening to them a read a few pages even funnier, but eventually the joke wears as thin as a chicken crossing a road to get felched.

But don’t shoot on the messenger, I’m only reporting what Waters fudgepacks into the frames of A Dirty Shame. Demure, frumpy housewife Sylvia Stickles (Tracey Ullman) never would have guessed what was waiting to come out of her when she takes a blow to the noggin. Sexualized beyond belief, Sylvia now roams the street like a pussy(cat) in heat searching high and low (mostly low) for the ultimate in vaginal pleasures. This includes taking the ol’ hokey-pokey to new depths at a nursing home by putting a water bottle where she’d like a tongue to shine.

Sylvia’s is only part of a growing trend of behavior in the puritanical neighborhoods of Hartford Road, Baltimore. Big Ethel (Suzanne Shepherd) is your atypical right-wing shrew (and Sylvia’s mother) trying to quash the movement influenced by the sexual Messiah, Ray-Ray Perkins (Johnny Knoxville). His band of horny followers (including Selma Blair as Sylvia’s 72DDD porn star daughter) is a virtual, physical and psychological cornucopia of fetishes who feel free to express their innermost desires publicly when freed by their savior. Their quest to discover the holiest of holy unconquered sexual acts leads straight back to Sylvia, whose loose lips may hold the key.

For about 40 minutes, A Dirty Shame approaches a sort of uproarious effrontery to our society’s greatest taboo and it’s pretty damn funny. Waters uses every line and situation to gape our mouths open just so he can stick something else in it. But this cinematic Viagra is only fun for as long as you can hold on. After that; you’re still left with a hard-on and nothing left to make its mark on the sheets. Even a Tantric studier like Sting will have trouble keeping their laughs up for the full 89 minutes because it becomes the same old missionary position. Imagine a hot-and-spicy marriage for the first five years only to succumb to flipping through romance and sex books desperately looking for anything to regain the spark once felt like a sexual outlet on overload.

John Waters is a self-contained gay pride parade. Colorful, loud and somewhat enjoyable upon first glance but irritatingly repetitive and in-your-face the more it goes on. His films aren’t about exploring behavior in anyway, just a person’s SexGod-given right to express it and anyone who disagrees or would prefer to keep their crotched activity private is a prude. Well, up yours with a gerbil buddy.

I don’t know what is particularly sexy about dousing ones self in food or dressing up in baby’s clothes, but A Dirty Shame wants to have its buttcake and eat it too by asking us to support their sexual freedom of choice while allowing us to laugh at their kinky exploits. Only one character in the film ever seems to enjoy an actual sexual act. The rest of them are selfish, self-stimulating exhibitionists with a masturbatory glee that pretty much sums up the world of John Waters. By the time we get to the boorish, anti-climactic ultimate kink of the “Resursexion”, we’re more than spent and frankly hoped for something a bit more creative to match the outrageousness of the foreplay. Unfortunately, Waters didn’t knock his own head around a few more times to find the comic G-spot.

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