A Dirty Shame—New Line

Video: 3
Audio: 3
Extras: 3

I've never been a fan of John Waters. In fact, I thought the guy was dead. But I suspect that his latest effort will try even his ardent admirers' patience. Sexploitation films definitely have their place in cinema history; but peppering such a film with name talent—albeit B-list talent like Tracy Ullman and Johnny Knoxville—is a misguided attempt to lend legitimacy to a genre that's best left in the underground. It's like putting a fancy sign on a porn store.

For those who might care, A Dirty Shame is about a repressed housewife (Ullman) who suffers a hit on the head and becomes a sex addict. She unwittingly enters a cult of perversion led by "sexual healer" Ray-Ray (Knoxville), and only those who've had concussions can see the sexual light. There's nothing redeeming or even remotely funny to be found here, only bad taste. I had to review the NC-17 version of the film; there's also an R-rated version.

For those who do make it through, there's a fairly thorough documentary that's nearly as long as the movie itself, featuring most of Waters' Dreamlanders acting regulars, along with the pencil-mustached director himself—very much alive. Waters also delivers one of two commentaries—the other includes several members of the crew—in which he provides a fairly straightforward glimpse into the mind behind the madness. He just about sums up the film in his studio pitch: "a cunnilingus concussion comedy."

The presentation is adequate, both in terms of the 1.85:1 anamorphic picture and Dolby Digital 5.1 track, but it's nothing to impress your friends with. You've been warned.