A Dirty Shame

It's hard to be a provocateur when the level of public discourse has reached an all-time low, but John Waters keeps fighting the good fight (or is it the bad one?) in this ode to sexual diversity at its most, um, diverse. Buttoned-up Baltimore housewife Sylvia Stickles (Tracey Ullman) has done her best to dodge the sexual revolution, but gets conscripted...read more

Where to Watch

Available to Stream

Reviewed by Maitland McDonagh
Rating:

It's hard to be a provocateur when the level of public discourse has reached an all-time low, but John Waters keeps fighting the good fight (or is it the bad one?) in this ode to sexual diversity at its most, um, diverse. Buttoned-up Baltimore housewife Sylvia Stickles (Tracey Ullman) has done her best to dodge the sexual revolution, but gets conscripted into the front lines after sustaining a head injury during a minor fender bender. The knock on the noggin transforms her into a nymphomaniac, puzzling her husband (Chris Isaak) and delighting their daughter Caprice (Selma Blair), whose off the bra-charts bazooms are all the rage at the roadhouse where she dances as "Ursula Udders," who thrills to the mother-daughter closeness promoted by their now-mutual interests. Sylvia's mother, frosty convenience-store owner Big Ethel (Suzanne Shepherd), is flat-out horrified, especially after word gets around that Sylvia spiced up a dreary round of rec-room hokey-pokey dancing at the local old-age home by picking up a bottle with her "runaway vagina." Sylvia quickly discovers a community of like-minded fetishists through messianic mechanic Ray-Ray Perkins (Johnny Knoxville), homegrown guru of erotic bliss, whose oversexed flock welcomes Sylvia in hope that she's the magic 12th follower who will bring about the "sexurrection" and subsequent new age of carnal fulfillment. Meanwhile Big Ethel and neighborhood anti-sex activist Marge (Mink Stole) mount a full-fledged resistance to the horrifying plague of erotic freedom afflicting their neighborhood. Smutty complications ensue, driven by Ray-Ray's rallying cry: "Let's Go Sexin'!" By the time matters come to a head — imagine, if you can, David Cronenberg's apocalyptic THEY CAME FROM WITHIN (1975) played for broad laughs — plaster is raining down on homeowners' heads as randy squirrels go at it in the rafters, and every tree and bush has mutated into a living monument to natural obscenity. Waters' gleeful freak show does its best to offend, and with a menu of outré sexual proclivities ranging from bear parties to scat chat, it can hardly help but outrage at least some of the people some of the time.

Your new favorite show is right here. Trust us.

Cast & Details See all »

  • Released: 2004
  • Rating: NC-17
  • Review: It's hard to be a provocateur when the level of public discourse has reached an all-time low, but John Waters keeps fighting the good fight (or is it the bad one?) in this ode to sexual diversity at its most, um, diverse. Buttoned-up Baltimore housewife Sy… (more)

Show More »