Dir: John Waters. Starring: Tracey Ullman, Chris Isaak, Selma Blair, Johnny Knoxville.

As almost everyone knows, John Waters makes gloriously trashy films. Except that he doesn't. Sure, in the Seventies and Eighties he did, but in the Nineties he calmed down a little. His films were still out there, but Serial Mom and Pecker moved away from the more shocking elements usually found in his films, and had a more serious, satirical edge to them. Thankfully, with A Dirty Shame Waters returns to a similar style of his seventies oeuvre. And about time too. There's a lot of intelligent smart comedies out there, but no one's been making really trashy films of late, and Waters' must have realised this and decided to put the world right again.

Tracey Ullman plays a pissed off wife working in her Mother's conveniance store, until she's accidentally concussed and meets Johnny Knoxville's Ray Rays at the scene of the accident. He does what all good passer-by's should do - cunnilingus - and in Ullman a sex addict is born. Up until this point the film slowly simmers, hinting at the crazy depravity that's about to be let loose, but the moment Johnny's between her legs, well, all hell breaks out, much to chargrin of Ullman's Mother, who sets up a organisation for the neuters - those who hate sex - to regain the neighbourhood.

Now A Dirty Shame isn't the smartest John Waters' movie, it's not the funniest either. But for those who love to be shocked, in a good humoured manner, it's a
delight. Nearly every type of sexual preference is on display here, from sploshing to scat, but it's put across in such a positive and funny way that even if you're watching something which isn't your cup of tea, then you won't be offended by it. Or at least you shouldn't be. For the central message is all about tolerance, and if this message is put across in a slightly heavy handed way, maybe it needs to be considering the current climate in the US where religion's on the rise and sex is increasingly becoming a taboo subject again. In a world where we can watch thousands die on a tv show, but the mereist glimpse of a woman's nipple sends the moral majority in to an outraged rampage (cf Janet Jackson's Superbowl 'accident') it's time that fun, trashy sexy comedies were made again, to remind us all that sex shouldn't always be taken seriously, and can be fun.

A Dirty Shame's obviously not going to be everyone's taste, but if you like your comedies bizarre, and very very funny, then you won't regret catching it for a second.

Alex Finch.


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Drew said...

I still have to see this one, your review reminded me of this fact. Thanks! :)