It is upsetting that John Waters has not released a movie in over 12 years, but his last attempt with A Dirty Shame was a return to his dirty roots as it displayed 90 minutes of trashy humour.
Lead by a phenomenal cast, the movie is fun, strange and entirely questionable, but alas that is why we love Mr. Waters.
His latest outing sees bored, repressed housewife Sylvia Stickles transform into a grotesque sex-addict after sustaining a head injury. Her rampant ways lead her into an underground sex cult containing members of varying fetishes, guided by none other than Johnny Knoxville’s Ray-Ray, a sexual healer. The growing urges of the fanatic group causes an all out war between the ‘neuters’ and the ‘perverts’.
While enjoying her sexual liberation, Stickles discovers she is the 12th sexual apostle, and is the key to unearthing a new sex act, unknown to the world. While the plot may not be too hefty, it is more a framework for Waters to hang his twisted fantasies.
While the outrageous moments came thick and fast, picking up haste consistently throughout until its sticky climax, it seems Waters has lost his iconic touch in recent years. In 2004, following a number of gross out movies, sex comedy is old hat and even the wildest of moments struggles to pack a punch with the younger generation, while the older gen find it irreverent.
Despite failing to push the boundaries of society, Waters makes certain analogies to American culture through the prudish nature of the town in contrast to the growing, yet shunned sexually free.
If you’re a die-hard fan of Waters it is unmistakably his movie from the script to the cinematography, there is no denying what you’re witnessing a cult classic. While many of the jokes seem hit and miss, there are certain concepts and one-liners that lift the piece such as “Now that’s what I call sneezing in the cabbage!”, and a scene of fan favourite Mink Stole masturbating while auto asphyxiating with a telephone wire.
The film almost acts as two pieces, with the front half much more nuanced and muted, scenes of a grocery clerk rubbing himself on minced meat provide glimses into Waters sensibility. The latter half churns out non-stop anarchy as the town is overrun with sex-zombies, squirrels humping in the streets and even foliage sprouting genitalia before humping. Even David Hasselhoff makes an odd cameo, taking a dump in an aeroplane.
The greatest part of the movie comes with its stellar cast, Tracy Ullman is fantastic in her bipolar role, grounding the kooky script into reality as she dares several unusual experiences. Selma Blair was fantastic as the abnormally large-breasted daughter who managed to turn a one-note joke into an empathetic character. Knoxville was note-perfect as the satanic sex leader throughout, exuding the type of charisma only he could pull off in such a movie. Though they had less material to work with, many of the supporting cast were each great in their hilarious roles.
Our Verdict Is: If you’re acquainted with adult humour, this is not quite the original shocker you may have expected but the movie is raunchy and trashy nonetheless. Even though it doesn’t quite stack up to some of Waters past work you will still get a few giggles throughout.