Here’s what I wrote after seeing “Pink Flamingos”, John Waters’ 1972 “classic”:
How do you rate a movie that looks and sounds dirt-cheap, with the clumsiest direction and ghastliest acting? This barely qualifies as a movie at all, it’s pretty much just a bunch of grotesque characters with the foulest mouths who do a lot of disgusting and retarded shit in front of a camera, led by 350 pound drag queen Divine. This is like the worst thing you’ve ever seen, yet you can’t look away!
I could say about the same thing about “A Dirty Shame”. Waters’ latest opus looks and sounds a little less dirt-cheap, but the direction is still incompetent and the acting atrocious. Again, the “plot” is only an excuse to fill the screen with perverted sex acts and idiotic gross-out gags. At least with Waters’ early films you felt he was really pushing the boundaries, but there isn’t anything all that shocking here. This is an after-school special compared to something like Miike’s “Visitor Q”.
The movie revolves around the Hartford Road area of Baltimore, where a freak series of head concussions turn people into sex addicts. So proper little wife and mother Sylvia (an embarrassingly bad Tracey Ullman) turns into a maniac who constantly lusts to be eaten out, the local policeman dresses up like a baby, big hairy gay dudes pretend to be bears, etc. The “normal” people of the neighbourhood are alarmed and start hosting decency rallies and 12-step meetings, while “sex saint” Ray-Ray (Johnny Knoxville) encourages the erotic mayhem, affirming that sex addicts are the Chosen Ones. “God, I love Baltimore, it’s a real city of diversity!”
There are some amusing ideas here and there, but they’re not developed into anything particularly memorable. Selma Blair’s ridiculously huge fake boobs are funny the first time you see them, but it get old real fast. Waters doesn’t do anything funny with the giant tits, he just shows them over and over. Same goes for the bears, the adult baby and the rest. I’m not a “neuter”, I’m not bothered with the bawdiness at all, but this is just poor comedy. The film overflows with corny double-entendres, hammy overacting, juvenile jokes and sleazy slapstick, none of which made me laugh. I didn’t find “Pink Flamingos” particularly funny either, yet it was oddly compelling. “A Dirty Shame” is a big bore, feeling desperately stretched at just 89 minutes.