After the laboured comedyof Cecil B Demented, it's reassuring to find John Waters on morefamiliar terrain in A Dirty Shame, a dirty sex comedy which really isgood clean fun. Already slapped with an NC-17 rating in the US by the MPAA, thefilm's gleefully flagrant bad language and sexual situations will limit itsavailability to younger audiences around the world, and its dearth of genuinetitillation won't attract any sex-hungry teens.
However Waters aficionados,of which there are perhaps many new ones after the success of Hairsprayon stage, won't miss it, and in the US especially, audiences sick of thepuritanical censoriousness of today's post-Superbowl America will embrace itwith a cry of "Let's go sexing". Response in the US so far has been fair: aftertwo weeks it has taken just under $0.5m from around 130 screens.
Waters still has the abilityto nudge the boundaries of common decency with his Baltimore stories. In thisone, a bunch of sex addicts invades the peaceful Harford Road nieghbourhood ofthe city much to the dismay of the conservative "neuter" population.
The story focuses on SylviaStickles (Ullman), a bad-tempered, sexually repressed housewife who frustratesthe sexual advances of her frustrated husband Vaughn (Isaak) and locks herexhibitionist daughter Caprice (Selma Blair, complete with gigantic comicbreast implants) in an upstairs room to prevent her return to a local stripbar.
One day, however, she isinvolved in a freak accident on her way to work and sexy stranger Ray-RayPerkins (Knoxville) comes to her assistance. As she struggles with concussion,Ray-Ray - a sexual healer, it emerges - performs oral sex on her, and sheawakens with a raging, passionate lust.
Suddenly, Sylvia is causingoutrage all across the Harford Road area, doing a limbo dance onto a plasticwater bottle in a nursing home, hunting out oral sex from anybody in sight(she's a "cunnilingus bottom", she proudly announces) and joining Ray-Ray andhis bunch of sex apostles in a rampage that will result in a new dawn of sexualawakening.
It's a filthy picture, butWaters takes such delight in offending America's conservatives both on screenand in the audience that the film could even play a role in the pre-Novelectioneering that is gripping the nation.
Prod cos: Killer Films, this is that
US dist: Fine Line Features
Int'l sales: New LineInternational
Exec prods: Danny Fisher, JackFisher, Joe Fisher
Prods: Christine Vachon, Ted Hope
Cine: Steve Gainer
Prod des: Vincent Peranio
Ed: Jeffrey Wolf
Mus: Tracy McKnight
Main cast: Tracey Ullman, JohnnyKnoxville, Selma Blair, Chris Isaak, Suzanne Shepherd, Mink Stole, PatriciaHearst, Jackie Hoffman