Dirty Girl has a nice little cast because it has a nice little script. It has also been produced by the famous Weinstein Brothers, who try to have one of their picture win the Best Picture Oscar every year. Dirty Girl won’t be winning the Oscar, but it’s not bad. Dirty girl Danielle is in high school in Norman Oklahoma in 1987. She goes to the principal’s office after being to frank in sex education class. He sends her to a class for special kids called challengers. He hopes she’ll get back on track quickly. This is basically a class for losers, and she walks in an immediately gets partnered with fat, gay Clark. Clark is actually about 65% gay according to his therapist. Their partnership revolves around a bag of flour who they name Joan Danielle like Joan Jett and Clark likes Joan Crawford. If you don’t know, Joan Jett was big in a group called the Runaways in the Seventies before becoming a solo artist, and Joan Crawford is a gay icon.
Danielle and Clark become a kind of couple since Danielle’s bad reputation is shot by going to losers’ class. I mentioned that there is a nice little cast, and that is evident in the parents. Danielle’s mom is played by Milla Jovovich, who is dating William H. Macy in the movie. Macy’s character tries to impose his strict Mormon values on Danielle’s loose but firmly set ways, and we know that’s not going to work. Clark’s parents are played by Dwight Yoakam and Mary Steenburgen. All four of these well-known actors clearly enjoyed being in this movie. There is also an uncredited performance by country singer Tim McGraw, who is doing more and more acting after being in The Blind Side. Dwight’s character is a homophobe and has a real problem with his son being 65% gay. Mary’s character is a repressed and quiet mom who is worried that Dwight will beat Clark to death someday.
Danielle and Clark start to bond when it becomes clear that Clark is probably more than 65% gay. She finally has a relationship that is not about being some dumb boy’s sex toy. They start to share all their dreams and disappointments. Danielle’s biggest disappointment is that she doesn’t know who her father is. She’s been searching through her mom’s yearbooks for years but never found him, but Clark found him as one of the assistant coaches. They manage to visit where he used to live, but a gay couple live there and have some of his old mail. So it’s time for a road trip, because Clark’s sexuality becomes an issue in his household and he steals his dad’s Cadillac. Dwight gets thrown into jail when he tries to hunt Clark down at Danielle’s house.
Like most road trips, it is always an adventure in which you are free to explore your true nature. Clearly both of these teenagers need to grow up. The film is honest and gentle in handling both of these people’s emotions and their tenuous but real bond.
I love listening to commentary, and I enjoyed this one. Writer/Director Abe Sylvia is a very nice gay man and clearly has a lot of affection for his characters and the actors playing them. This film can easily be added to the large and growing list of gay-themed films. But it is not heavy-handed. The film is mostly played for gentle comedy. The film isn’t earthshaking, but it is stirring. When you have a film like this going straight to video, you feel a little cheated for everyone involved because they clearly made a nice and enjoyable little film, and you think that it should deserve some recognition.
This film is also a lovely tribute to the time period with lots of loving attention paid to the music, hair, clothes and settings of the Eighties. I’m sure there are many people who are nostalgic for all those teen comedies that came out at that time. I can pay tribute to this film by saying that it stands up well to all those great movies that we remember. Dirty Girl is a loving and fun addition to the genre. I wish they still made those movies. Well, someone has; enjoy.