Foul-mouthed, highly sexed movie has a muddled message.
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A Lot or a Little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this uneven 1980s-set dramedy is about the friendship between a foul-mouthed, promiscuous, cigarette-smoking teen girl and a shy, overweight, gay teen boy who are both looking for some kind of family connection. There's nearly constant strong language (including "f--k," "s--t," "c--k," "p---y," and more), as well as heavy sexual innuendo and sexual suggestion (including teens having sex in a car and brief male frontal nudity in pictures). Teens regularly smoke cigarettes, and there's a violent scene of a father beating up his teen son. Due to the content and subject matter, it's not age-appropriate for teens under 17.
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Good movie with strong themes 16+ only!
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What's the Story?
In Norman, Oklahoma, circa 1987, Danielle (Juno Temple) is unhappy. Her mother (Milla Jovovich) is dating a religious zealot (William H. Macy) who wants to convert the family, and Danielle drifts through high school using foul language, having sex, and smoking cigarettes. In a family life class, she's paired with overweight, gay classmate Clarke (Jeremy Dozier), whose father wants him to be more of a man. Clarke and Danielle are assigned to take care of a "baby," i.e., a sack of flour. But when Danielle learns the identity of her real father, she coaxes Clarke to steal his mom's car, and they hit the road for California, their sack of flour (named "Joan") in the back seat. Will any of these misfits find the family they so desperately want and need?
Is It Any Good?
Falling victim to the "Grinch" syndrome, DIRTY GIRL is much more fun when Danielle is behaving badly. Unfortunately, that only lasts about 20 minutes, and as soon as she befriends Clarke -- an unlikely situation in itself -- the fun ends. The rest of the movie cooks up the usual road-trip clichés, with sing-a-longs to many 1980s radio tunes. It tries to throw in surprises here and there, but these only seem like an extension of what came before, rather than any kind of sudden twist or turn.
Moreover, the filmmakers send mixed messages about family and "being yourself." And thus the bad behavior continues, but with a sour note rather than a gleeful one. The movie's tone wobbles all over the place, ranging from pathos to magical realism (the bag of flour "reacts" to various situations). It all leads to a bizarre, frustrating conclusion that makes very little sense. In short, Dirty Girl should have been more reckless, braver -- and a little dirtier.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about the movie's sexual content. How is it presented? Does it look dangerous, appealing, or both? Does the movie have positive or helpful things to say about sex?
Is Danielle too young to be having so much sex? How much does she really know about it? Why is she doing it? Is she lonely? Is she in love? Is she seeking power? Could there be other reasons? Parents, talk to your teens about your own values relating to sex and relationships.
Are the characters relatable? Do you think they're intended to be role models?
- In theaters: October 7, 2011
- On DVD or streaming: January 16, 2012
- Cast: Jeremy Dozier, Juno Temple, Milla Jovovich
- Director: Abe Sylvia
- Studio: Weinstein Co.
- Genre: Drama
- Run time: 90 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: sexual content including graphic nudity, and for language
- Last updated: January 2, 2023
Our Editors Recommend
Brilliant teen-pregnancy comedy, but iffy for kids.
Fairly thoughtful romcom masquerades as a raunchy indie.
Mature but often hilarious teen comedy.
Offbeat indie dramedy will resonate with older teens.
For kids who love quirky movies
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