DVD Review - National Lampoon's Dirty Movie
National Lampoon started as a humor magazine in the 1970s. It has since spawned books, a radio show and a series of movies. Written by Alan Donnes and Tanner Colby, Dirty Movie follows a 40ish, sleazy, movie producer named Charlie LaRue as he attempts to make a film that's nothing but a series of dirty jokes.
Christopher Meloni (Law & Order: Special Victims Unit and Oz) plays Charlie. He wears very loud suits, a tupee and somewhat large false teeth. Some might say he's a hybrid of Robert Evans from The Kid Stays in the Picture and Jerry Lewis.
Robert Klein co-stars as the CEO of the company financing Charlie's movie. Klein is the so-called Dean of American comedy. Mario Cantone, a fellow stand-up comic, plays the Director of Charlie's movie who has aspirations to make a real movie, not just a series of filmed dirty jokes. He wants a story, a narrative. John Lavelle, a Broadway actor, plays the Writer of Charlie's movie who doesn't care about story or narrative. All he cares about is coming up with the most offensive, racist and homophobic jokes that he can.
As things go along, two parallels occur. One parallel is Charlie and his rag tag team attempting to craft his realization of The Aristocrats but with as many naked boobs as he can get. The other parallel is seeing the fruits of their labor, which is the actual movie. Therefore, we see the movie as well as the making of the movie at the same time. Actually, we toggle back-and-forth between the two.
For example, Charlie or his Writer will come up with a joke like "a guy walks into a bar..." The next scene is seeing a guy actually walking into a bar. If it was something as tame as a "knock-knock" joke, then the next scene would have been seeing an actual guy knocking on a door. Charlie wants to see jokes acted out, but not jokes as tame as "knock-knock, who's there." Instead, Charlie wants the basest jokes that appeal to the absolute worst stereotypes.
Sometimes, it's just someone in front of a green screen with a digital backdrop telling a nasty or filthy joke straight to the camera. Most other times, it's a skit involving incest, foul-mouth school children, farm boys into beastiality, pedophile priests and drug-addled doctors. The skits begin as simple setup and punchlines, but eventually the stand-alone skits are revisited and build story arcs of their own.
It's crazy, but hilarious. It had me laughing from beginning to end. It definitely tests one's sensibilities while certainly tickling them. It's bold with characters that wear T-shirts reading "Fallopian Cowboy" or that dress up like Hitler and tell jokes like "What's the difference between a Jew and canoe? A canoe might tip."
It starts off as merely a vehicle for a multitude of raunchy humor and gags. It develops into a spoof of independent filmmaking like with the use of product placement with Vienna sausages as well as an effective challenge of political correctness and the lines you can and can't cross in comedy. It's even funny to watch Charlie and his team debate the merits and the methods. For example, when and who can use the N-word?
One of my favorite jokes in the piece was "How do you know when your wife is really dead? The sex is the same but the dishes start piling up."
Five Stars out of Five.
Rated R for pervasive crude humor, strong language, some nudity and drug use.
Running Time: 1 hr. and 31 mins.