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Direct to Instant Purgatory: A Dirty Shame

Services like Netflix and YouTube have made the most recent films readily available to anyone. Can we find anything of value in the muck of b-movies, ambitious failures and exploitative crap-fests? We’re going to find out in Dispatches from Instant View Purgatory.


What’re we watching: “A Dirty Shame,” filth provocateur John Waters’ 2004 sex satire.


What does it look like: If David Lynch and Ron Jeremy would have collaborated on a remake of “Pleasantville,” this would have been it.


What’s going on:Tracey Ullman plays Sylvia, an uptight convenience store clerk with a prickly husband and a porn star daughter played by Selma Blair. After she’s hit in the head in a traffic accident, Johnny Knoxville, playing Ray Ray, a sort of sexual Christ-figure, awakens her to the world of sexual addiction and brands her as a disciple in an act of public oral sex. Knoxville tells Ullman that she will be the one to lead all sex addicts into discovering a new sexual act. Gross out hijinks ensue.


What works: “A Dirty Shame” tries to make a really interesting point in the way that sex has become something that is openly discussed and practiced but speaks on the way that fetishes and sexual deviancy are still looked down on.


What doesn’t: Waters seems to think his movie is much funnier than it is. A lot of the jokes simply revolve around someone rubbing their genitals on trash cans or wheelchairs, and he’s sort of obsessed with using a penis as a go-to joke.


Skip to: It’s hard to describe any scene in the movie without losing my job. There’s a scene in a nursing home featuring the Hokey Pokey, Ullman dancing in front of old people and a water bottle. A scene in Sex Addicts Anonymous quickly devolves into a hilarious mix of people trying to get over their problems while others espouse the value of pleasuring themselves.


The Verdict:  “A Dirty Shame” isn’t hysterical but it is bizarre, ending up being more of the kind of movie for people who love gross-out humor and aren’t going to be put off by many of the fetishes that Waters gleefully revels in. It’s a movie that deserves its rating, but not for the expected reasons.


What’s coming up next: Next week we get manly, checking out Chuck Norris and his canine partner fight crime in “Top Dog.”

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