Review: ‘Dirty Love’

Few pretty actresses have so thoroughly discarded their vanity in an outright vanity piece as Jenny McCarthy does in "Dirty Love," so it's unfortunate for her this exercise in comic self-abnegation, which she wrote for herself, falls so awfully flat.

This review was updated on March 2, 2005

Few pretty actresses have so thoroughly discarded their vanity in an outright vanity piece as Jenny McCarthy does in “Dirty Love,” so it’s unfortunate for her this exercise in comic self-abnegation, which she wrote for herself, falls so awfully flat. One sincere cheer can be raised for the former Playmate and MTV hostess’s fearless attempt to show Hollywood she has real potential as a bigscreen comedienne. But two other cheers are strictly of the Bronx variety, inasmuch as what was no doubt intended as a crowd-pleasing theatrical laff fest is instead a strained item destined for cable and homevid.

In this bizarrely conceived vengeance tale, beauteous Rebecca (McCarthy) tries to strike back at her hunky cheatin’ b.f. Richard (Victor Webster) via the odd means of dating nothing but nerds and weirdoes. Operating principle is to strenuously physicalize both the torment Rebecca feels in having been jilted and the lengths she’ll go to in trying to attract Richard’s attention.

What this amounts to onscreen, however, includes the sorry spectacle of a Woody Allen-ish date vomiting on Rebecca’s cleavage during a fashion show, and Rebecca bleeding all over a supermarket floor while in desperate search of some maxipads. A woman’s self-respect has never had it so bad.

While McCarthy’s comic thesping talents are vaguely discernable at certain points, she is ill-served by her own screenplay, which portrays everything in such cartoonish terms that the story’s driving emotions are never real. Moreover, director John Asher (writer-star’s husband) is unable to differentiate between when Rebecca can be over-the-top but McCarthy can’t. Script’s resolution of Rebecca’s plight is ludicrous.

Not helping matters are one-note turns as Rebecca’s trashy girlfriends by Kam Heskin and Carmen Electra, the latter playing a sadistic waxing technician with an affected homegirl accent. Whole package has a cheesy look.

Dirty Love

Production

A Doubledown Entertainment presentation. Produced by Trent Walford, Jenny McCarthy, John Asher. Directed by John Asher. Screenplay, Jenny McCarthy.

Crew

Camera (Deluxe, FotoKem color), Eric Wycoff; editor, Warren Bowman; production designer, Frank Bollinger; art director, Clare Brown; set decorator, Eden Barr; costume designer, Paula Elins; sound, Randy Lawson; supervising sound editor, Michelle Garuik; casting, Mary Vernieu. Reviewed at Sundance Film Festival (Midnight), Jan. 23, 2005. Running time: 91 MIN.

With

Jenny McCarthy, Eddie Kaye Thomas, Carmen Electra, Kam Heskin, Victor Webster.
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