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Dirty Girl Review

By Geoff Morrison

Fun? Yes. Dirty? Not so much.

Dirty Girl
As much as I can, I try to avoid knowing anything about a movie before I see it. I don't want to see trailers or learn about the actors. I want to go in without any idea what I'm about to see. This is especially true with movies I review. Best to create my own opinion, right?

All I knew of "Dirty Girl" was that it was a "coming of age" movie with Juno Temple and Milla Jovovich as her Mom (oh, say it ain't so Leeloo). Despite my best efforts, I got an idea about this movie. Sprinkle a bit of first time director who's also the writer, and I wasn't expecting much. In fact, for some reason, I was expecting a bunch of annoying characters doing annoying things, annoyingly.

So perhaps it was because I was so wrong on so many levels, that I really loved this movie.

Right off the bat, the film grabs you with the confidant strut of the main character, Danielle, played by Temple. Her swagger and attitude make her very easy to dislike. She's mean and rude, yet somehow you can't really hate her. There's something about her self assuredness that's very watchable.

Her behavior gets her thrown down into a class with other malcontents. For a project involving a sack of flour baby analog, she gets paired up with Clark, an overweight, shy, angry kid who's rumored to be gay. He's as introverted as she is extroverted.

Pretty typical, so far, right? Well, it is and it isn't. The transformation of each character as they get to know themselves and each other is really well done. Danielle and Clark need each other. Once they realize this, they care for each other.

Each character's story arc is believable. In another movie these characters could be considered tragic, even depressing. But in this movie, you root for them, you feel for them.

In a lot of ways it reminded me of "Juno", with a bit of the quirkiness of "Napoleon Dynamite" (something not apperent in the terrible trailer I just watched). In "Juno", the main character is placed in a tragic situation, but Ellen Page and Jason Reitman never let you pity her. The same with "Dirty Girl". These characters are placed in tough spots, but they take it in stride.

As funny and touching as the script is, this movie is made by the actors. Juno Temple, sporting a pretty amusing American accent, plays her part perfectly. A hardened exterior to cover the insecurities underneath. Newcomer Jeremy Dozier, as Clark, does a brilliant job going from uncomfortable-everywhere miserable teen to comfortable-in-his-skin young adult. Dwight Yoakam, as Clark's dad, is amazingly creepy. Mary Steenburgen, perhaps, has one of the best performances here. Her understated, mid-west housewife persona could have been a simple one, yet you always tell there something bubbling under the surface.

While there are a few areas where the script could have been tighter, a story arc more satisfactorily resolved, the total result of "Dirty Girl" is one of a solid, fun, road trip/coming of age movie. I enjoyed it greatly, and recommend it highly.

One oddity, the rating is R for "sexual content including graphic nudity, and for language." Of the latter, for sure; Danielle swears a lot. But there's no nudity, graphic or otherwise. None. There is one, quick, dimly-lit shot of a poster with a naked guy on it. That's considered "graphic" nudity? Just how homophobic is the MPAA?

What did you think?

Movie title Dirty Girl
Release year 2011
MPAA Rating R
Our rating
Summary "Dirty Girl" isn't the kind of movie that will likely win many awards or do tremendous box office money, but it's a warm, funny, adorable movie that above all is just fun.
View all articles by Geoff Morrison
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