A Dirty Shame (Unrated) (2004)
NC-17 Dir: John Waters | New Line | 88 min.

Review By: Fusion3600 | January 28th, 2012

Plot: What’s it about?

Sylvia Stickles (Tracey Ullman) is not a lustful woman. In her youth, perhaps, but these days, she rarely opens her legs to allow carnal pleasure. Her husband Vaughn (Chris Isaak) has a potent sex drive, but he is turned back at every advance. Sylvia even looks down on her own daughter Caprice (Selma Blair), a stripper who has the world’s largest mammaries. Caprice’s sexual hijinks were so out of control, she was placed under house arrest, where Sylvia minds her every movement. Instead of sex, Sylvia’s focus is on work, as she runs a convenience store and worries about keeping others under control, such as her husband and daughter. But when she winds up in an automobile accident, her world is forever changed thanks to a concussion. She is rescued by tow truck driver Ray Ray (Johnny Knoxville), who also happens to be a sexual healer. But when Sylvia’s sexual desire is unleashed, can her town survive the carnal assault?

As always, John Waters found himself on controversial ground with the release of one of his films, this time A Dirty Shame. But this time around, Waters didn’t have his usual loyal fans behind him, as many of them even felt the film was lackluster. I mean, you don’t expect good movies from Waters, just fun and high camp, but even by that standard, A Dirty Shame falls short. A few memorable scenes are to be found, but little of Waters trademark eye for bad taste. This is more like a by the numbers low class picture, not the kind of well executed bad taste we have come to expect. In other words, this could be a bad movie by anyone, as Waters doesn’t give A Dirty Shame his usual attention. Even so, the cast is fun, with Tracey Ullman, Selma Blair, Johnny Knoxville, and perhaps the surprise star, Chris Isaak. I have to admit, I was disappointed with A Dirty Shame, but if you’re a fan of Waters, then I do recommend a rental.

Video: How does it look?

A Dirty Shame is presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. This is a New Line release, so I knew what to expect, a terrific visual presentation. So I knew this would be a good transfer, but I was surprised with how slick and sharp this presentation is. The source print is very clean at all times, while the image is bold and well detailed also, a welcome combination indeed. The film’s bright color scheme comes off well here, with vivid hues and no signs of bleeds in the least. I also saw no problems with the contrast, which showcases a high level of detail and well balanced black levels at all times. Once again, New Line impresses with a new release transfer, which is why they’re known for excellence.

Audio: How does it sound?

This disc includes a Dolby Digital 5.1 track, which provides an active and effective audio experience. This one has a focus on dialogue, but don’t think the audio rolls over and plays dead. The surrounds see a lot of activity during this film, from subtle sound effects to more potent ones, so you’ll always be in the middle of all the action. The music sounds great in this mix also, very immersive and powerful at times. The dialogue isn’t lost here though, as the vocals are always crisp and very easy to understand. I wasn’t expecting much from this track, but I am very pleased with how it all turned out. This disc also includes a 2.0 surround option, as well as subtitles in English and Spanish.

Supplements: What are the extras?

John Waters provides an audio commentary track and as per usual, his comments are priceless and loads of fun to listen to. He pulls no punches and relays all kinds of stories from the production, as well as his own snide remarks on certain subjects. Waters is hilarious in this track and if you’re a fan, you have to hear this, just a lot of fun all the way around. The second track is an unusual one, as production team members discuss the film, only the result is odd and unexpected. Give this one a spin if you’re ever bored with the usual sessions, as it is a strange, though welcome inclusion. As if those tracks weren’t enough, a feature length documentary adds even more behind the scenes insight. At almost an hour and a half, the piece has ample time to cover the bases and is well worth a look.

Disc Features
  • (1.85:1) Aspect Ratio
  • Video Codec: MPEG-2
  • Audio: Dolby Digital
  • Theatrical Trailer
  • Audio Commentary
  • Deleted Scene(s)
  • Featurette
  • Documentary
  • Digital Copy
  • 1 Disc Set
A Dirty Shame (Unrated)

3.5
Video
Audio
Extras