NNWIJ: A Dirty Shame (2004)

Director: John Waters

Notable Cast: Tracey Ullman, Johnny Knoxville, Selma Blair, Chris Isaak

Rating: NC-17 (supposedly)

Review:  John Waters is really into this whole exploitation of sexual repression, eh?  I’ve never seen a whole film of his, so I figure I’d give his most recent directorial effort (although 7 years ago) a try.  Boy was it an…experience.  Sylvia (Ullman) is an extremely conservative woman going through life repressing herself, until one morning a blow to the head turns her into a sex addict, causing her to meet an underground group of sex addicts planning to take Baltimore over.  Her husband (Isaak) plays the angel on her shoulder trying to cure her “disease,” while her daughter (Blair) plays the devil on her shoulder trying to keep her an addict.  I’ve you’ve seen a John Waters film, that probably doesn’t sound weird to you, but it sure was new to me.  Waters’ dialogue leaves nothing to the imagination, having characters that were either completely intolerant fascists or sexual free spirits.  Every line tried to push the boundaries of the next, so the easily offended might just want to turn away.  Waters also explored every addiction possible, but never in a visually offensive manner.  There was never any nudity or actual sex in the film itself, which completely surprised me because of the very topic itself.  Johnny Knoxville comes in as some sexual Jesus, possessing sexual healing powers and putting together a group of apostles, because Waters can’t be happy just offending normal audiences.  Religious folk were probably up in arms over the biblical ties being used in such disrespectful manners. I get what Waters is trying to say, the whole “sexuality shouldn’t be repressed but embraced by everyone,” but A Dirty Shame was just too much.  His references were too over done, his writing tried too hard to be edgy, and the comedy was too ridiculous.   Most his lines were just for shock value, which became apparent after a while.  But what was up with the rating?  Netflix said NC-17, yet it was edited like a feature film on cable.   F@ck was edited out every time, as well as other vulgar terms.  It deserved a PG-13, not the worst rating in the book.  Maybe Waters’ style is too flamboyant for me, but if it was toned down, A Dirty Shame could have been a much better movie.

Netflix Rating: 2/5

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About Matt Donato

I love all things film. I'll watch any genre, any actor, at any time. This whole film critic thing is a passionate hobby for now which I'm balancing with working in the business world, but hey, someday, who knows?
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