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New Line Home Cinema presents
A Dirty Shame (2004)

"Let's go sexin!"
- Ray-Ray Perkins (Johnny Knoxville)

Review By: Chuck Aliaga   
Published: June 13, 2005

Stars: Tracey Ullman, Johnny Knoxville, Selma Blair
Other Stars: Chris Isaak
Director: John Waters

MPAA Rating: NC-17 for (pervasive sexual content)
Run Time: 01h:28m:46s
Release Date: June 14, 2005
UPC: 794043780028
Genre: comedy

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer

DVD Review

Writer/director John Waters' films are definitely an acquired taste. After 15 features, if you haven't acquired said taste by now, then you probably won't be a big fan of his 16th project, 2004's A Dirty Shame. Featuring more of the same outlandish, sick humor, twisted storylines, and strange sex as his previous schlock classics, this new flick will only appeal to the most hardcore Waters fans.

The director's other recent fare like Pecker and Serial Mom managed to incorporate at least some semblance of a storyline with all of the debauchery, odd language, and words that only Waters himself could have thought up. A Dirty Shame is simply pointless. Sure, there's a psuedo-plot about an undersexed woman who meets the "angel of sexuality" and is newly liberated, but this is simply a means to an end, as well as an excuse to show the most senseless, non-erotic sexual references (bushes standing erect, trees shaped like female sexual organs, etc.) I've ever seen.

The "loose" story centers on Sylvia Stickles (Tracey Ullman), a "neuter" who won't give her husband Vaughn (Chris Isaak) the time of day and has locked her ex-porn star daughter, Caprice (Selma Blair) in an upstairs room. The amazingly well-endowed Caprice is under house arrest (ankle bracelet and all) for numerous incidents of indecent exposure.

When Sylvia's car runs out of gas on her way to work, she is accidentally hit in the head with a blunt object, becomes a sex fiend, and meets Ray-Ray, a self-proclaimed sexual healer who tells her she is the 12th apostle of sex. Legend has it that this 12th apostle will fulfill a prophecy and invent a new sex act. The only problem is that every time Sylvia is accidentally hit on the head, the effect is reversed, and she reverts back to her cold, sexless self.

If the film has one thing going for it, it's a cast that is definitely having fun with the material. As in all of Waters' works it takes a certain group of actors to even tolerate such insane dialogue and actions, which is probably why he has a set of recurring performers. Reliable Waters stalwart Mink Stole is on board A Dirty Shame, but Waters also has Hollywood-ites Ullman and Knoxville being crazier than ever, even driving them to embarrass themselves (if that's possible for Knoxville) at times.

I guess I've never really bought into John Waters' purpose as a motion picture director. His sole intention in filmmaking seems to be simply to shock audiences in every way imaginable. At least his earlier pictures had some artistic value in their uniqueness and campiness, thanks to the participation of the late Divine, but ever since Cry Baby, Waters has been in the midst of a downward spiral towards mediocrity.

Rating for Style: D
Rating for Substance: D


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: The bright colors (especially the gorgeous reds) in this anamorphic 1.85:1 widescreen transfer are its best asset. The rest of the presentation is very impressive as well, with sharp images everywhere and solid, detailed images. There are a couple of animated images that look very cheap, but Waters obviously wasn't going for a Disney look by any means.

Image Transfer Grade: B


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishyes
Dolby Digital

Audio Transfer Review: There's both a Dolby Digital 5.1 and 2.0 audio option, but the increased fidelity and wider dynamic range makes the 5.1 the easy choice. There's wonderful directionality and separation between the speakers, along with a deep bass presence that packs quite a punch during a few sequences. The inane dialogue is crisp and clear, but good luck figuring out what some of it means.

Audio Transfer Grade: B


Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 17 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, Spanish with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
4 Other Trailer(s) featuring Pecker, Pink Flamingos, Female Trouble, Polyester
1 Deleted Scenes
1 Documentaries
2 Feature/Episode commentaries by writer/director John Waters; greens foreman Devra Kitterman, associate producer and casting director Pat Moran, production designer Vincent Peranio, costume designer Van Smith, prop master Brook Yeaton
Weblink/DVD-ROM Material
Packaging: Keep Case
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extras Review: The extras begin with an audio commentary by writer/director John Waters. As always, he delivers a truly funny discussion about not only A Dirty Shame, but anything, and I do mean anything that pops into his head.

There's another commentary track, this one featuring greens foreman Devra Kitterman, associate producer and casting director Pat Moran, production designer Vincent Peranio, costume designer Van Smith, and prop master Brook Yeaton. This track is also excellent, with each speaker providing wonderful insight into the part they played in making the film.

Next is All the Dirt on A Dirty Shame, an 82-minute making-of documentary. This very thorough piece features interviews with most of the cast and crew, who explain their characters and the film as a whole. It's very interesting to hear from these performers and their feelings on working with John Waters, and Tracey Ullman offers up a funny story about Johnny Knoxville when he interrupts her interview.

A single deleted scene (:20s) is included showing Johnny Knoxville "enjoying" the fake snake coming out of his jeans.

There's also the ability to view the film's screenplay via a DVD-ROM drive, a still photo showing the track listing for the film's soundtrack, the theatrical trailer for the feature, and previews for four more John Waters films, now available from New Line Home Video in a big boxed set.

Extras Grade: A


Final Comments

John Waters has offered up his first waste-of-time project with A Dirty Shame. However, this DVD is very impressive, featuring excellent audio and video and a documentary that is worth the price of the disc alone.


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