Thursday, October 6, 2011

Oh, Mama! Abe Sylvia's DIRTY GIRL delivers shameless, fabulous fun

OK: honest injun, DIRTY GIRL is not the greatest movie of the year. But it's certainly up there with those that have provided me the most fun. Joining the ranks of the recent "R"-rated comedies -- first, for the boys (Hangover etc.), then for the girls (Bridesmaids, etc.) -- this movie, from first-time/full-length writer/director Abe Sylvia (who makes a more-than-auspicious debut) has broadened the field to now include the first R-rated girls-and-gays comedy. In the process, Sylvia has managed to hit so many of the right buttons in a manner just off-kilter enough that they almost seem new. They're not, but you may well be laughing hard enough (and smiling when the guffaws calm down) that you won't notice. Or, even if you do, you may not mind.

One of the really special things about this movie is how Mr Sylvia, shown at right, manages to shock us and make a laugh, while also seeing to it that we like his characters, every damn one of them, including the homophobic father (played quite well by Dwight Yokam, below right) and the Mormon maybe-to-be step-father, essayed with his usual craftsmanship, by William H. Macy (shown at bottom).

The guys -- bless 'em -- do seem to get it in the stomach (more often the balls) in this movie, while the women tend to come out smelling like, if not a rose, maybe a lilac or carnation, as does our delightful gay hero, played with simply terrific, shruggy savoir-faire by newcomer Jeremy Dozier, below, whose first full-length film this also is.

Mr. Dozier (at left) is a doozy -- so funny and chubby and real and endearing as Clarke (note the "e") that I dare you not to be captivated by his combination of neediness and determination. Joining him in the other leading role is an actress, Juno Temple (below, who plays dirty girl Danielle), whom I've been watching with great interest for a couple of years now. From St. Trinian's to Glorious 39, Cracks to Kaboom, she's been just good and versatile enough to stand out. Here she comes into her own, and it's a star-making performance. Temple's chemistry with Dozier is right and real, as the two bond haltingly at first, then out of necessity and finally out of genuine friendship. These two are so good together that their relationship makes the movie.

Not that there aren't other excellent performances, as well -- among them those of Mary Steenbergen (below, right) as Clarke's mom and Mila Jovovich (below, left, playing, what?! a mother role now, as Danielle's progenitor). Also offering very smart work is Nicholas D'Agosto as a hitch-hiking stripper named Joel.

Part family film, part outsider movie, part road trip, Dirty Girl is held together as much by the filmmaker's savvy ability to negotiate various mood changes, as by its consistently excellent performances. Set in the late 1980s, it also boasts styles, songs and famous names of the period -- like Joan Jett, who lends her moniker to the very funny and useful bag of flour that our two kids must carry around all day as a practice "baby."

Thanks to some very funny and charming animation, this little 5-pound bag (above, middle) changes its expression with each passing mood and event and adds a lot of fun to this already delightful and dirty/sunny film. The climax, by the way, is every bit as shameless and fabulous as you could possibly want.

Dirty Girl, from The Weinstein Company, opens theatrically in limited release this Friday, October 7, in New York City, Los Angeles, Berkeley, San Francisco, San Jose and Tampa.  To see all the theatres, simply click here and then scroll down to TICKETS AND SHOWTIMES, type in your zip code and click on one of the three on-line ticket purveyors.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

That was awesome. I also found this funny video on Youtube by a Canadian comedian. You might want to check it out. http://youtu.be/jDEoprzTYyA

James van Maanen, said...

Thank you, Anon. And I did check out that link. Very cute, and pretty clever and funny, too. This Josh Rimer guy is OK! Or is Anonymous, in this case, maybe a stand-in for Mr. Rimer? Just asking...