Immaculate Conception of Little Dizzle, The

Reviewed By Jay Seaver
Posted 03/22/09 02:40:53

"'Immaculate' is not a word normally associated with toilet humor."
3 stars (Average)

SCREENED AT THE 2009 SXSW FILM FESTIVAL: David Russo had a bunch of nifty ideas that he threw into "The Immaculate Conception of Little Dizzle", and they're the kind of ideas that work as part of this sort of strange stew movie - not big enough to serve as a story's foundation, but good for depicting a film's surreal world. The trick is to arrange and connect them into a movie rather than a movie-sized blob of wacky concepts, and I don't know that Russo does it.

Take the film's zippy opening credits, following a message in a bottle with a bunch of cool photography, editing, and effects work to a kind of funny punchline. It's nifty, and referred back to later, but the link feels obligatory, not strong. It could link to the way Dory (Marshall Allman) is looking for any kind of belief system for guidance, but it's in the wrong place for that. The film has a few clever fantastical bits, but what they build up to isn't as keen as the lead-up. Individual characters' stories fork off and reconnect later, but don't affect each other in the meantime.

The bits are nifty, though. We follow Dory, who joins a custodial service after screaming his way out of a data management company. There, he joins a staff run by transvestite Desert Storm vet Bergsman (Russell Hodgkinson) which also includes junkie lovers Methyl & Ethyl (Tygh Runyan and Tania Raymonde) and would-be artist O.C. (Vince Vieluf). O.C. has a crush on research company exec Tracy (Natasha Lyonne), who upon discovering that the janitors will eat any samples left lying around, uses them as guinea pigs for a cookie that warms itself upon contact with saliva - which also proves to be highly addictive and have certain bizarre side effects.

It's a fun cast, especially Vieluf as O.C., who is the extroverted kind of artist and has a genuine enthusiasm for janitorial work. Runyan and Raymonde are playing stereotypes as Methyl & Ethyl, and they throw themselves into the roles with abandon. Russell Hodgkinson doesn't have a lot of screen time, but he's dryly funny when there, and Natasha Lyonne has a fun sort of blank corporate delivery at times. Allman kind of gets stuck playing the sort-of-sane center character, despite the running joke of him trying on different religions. It's a pretty nice ensemble, one which establishes a quick camaraderie.

The film's humor is, as you might imagine, occasionally pretty disgusting in nature. It openly refers to itself as toilet humor (but also toilet tragedy, toilet inspiration, etc.), and the science-fictional parts are gross, as well, but often hilariously so. The movie is agreeably fast-paced, sometimes frantically so, and when Russo is concentrating on madcap comedy, the movie works. When he tries to get serious and heartfelt, though, it's not quite so good. Then his ideas seem to be very vague, and though generally well-intentioned, not well-defined. What does "I'm sorry" have to do with the rest of the movie? It's not a story about people making amends, so why is that one of the recurring images?

There's a lot of stuff like that; "The Immaculate Conception of Little Dizzle" doesn't really come together as a story with something to say. Most of the gags are pretty good, though.

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