You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Dirty Girl

A teen jezebel who hits the road in search of her deadbeat dad.

Clarke - Jeremy Dozier Danielle - Juno Temple Sue-Ann - Milla Jovovich Ray - William H. Macy Peggy - Mary Steenburgen Joseph - Dwight Yoakam

In movies, where every hooker has a heart of gold, it figures the same would go for the high school slut. “Dirty Girl” stars Juno Temple as a teen jezebel who, with the help of the school closet-case, hits the road in search of her deadbeat dad, whose lifelong absence too-conveniently explains her man-crazy ways. What begins as a politically incorrect, “Mean Girls”-esque satire constantly shifts tone and focus as director Abe Sylvia pursues a style as jumbled as his narrative. Still, the scandalous-sounding title should lure curious college kids to this Weinstein Co. acquisition, especially on DVD.

If reports are true that the deal was made 20 minutes into the film’s Toronto premiere, it’s not clear the Weinsteins knew exactly what they were getting, since the opening is front-loaded with the sort of irreverent caricatures that have endeared auds to “Glee” — only to have things veer in wildly different directions. As dirty girl Danielle (Temple) might tell fellow Oklahomans about the weather, “If you don’t like it, just wait a few minutes, and it’ll change” — and change it does, with subplots about Mormon in-laws, gay strippers and an abusive dad flaring up at odd intervals.

That first reel finds class punching-bag Clarke (newcomer Jeremy Dozier) trying to keep a low profile as Danielle turns heads, looking like she walked out of a heavy-metal video. With Danielle shagging jocks beneath the school bleachers and offering unsolicited tips during sex-ed class, the principal has no choice but to send the foul-mouthed nymphet to the remedial “Challengers” program (unfortunately named, considering the space shuttle explosion and the pic’s kitschy 1987 setting).

There, she and gay-cliche Clarke wind up as partners in a class assignment, and with nothing in common but their red-blooded lust for bad boys and disdain for their respective parents, they grudgingly become friends. Soon they’re spending all their time together, sharing secrets and saliva — to throw Clarke’s homophobic dad off the scent.

In a movie not starved for over-the-top characterizations, Sylvia assembles a colorful team to play the pair’s dysfunctional families. Dwight Yoakam and Mary Steenburgen are Clarke’s wonky folks, while as Danielle’s mom, Milla Jovovich tries her tacky best to show the apple doesn’t fall far from the trailer park. Danielle’s dad left long ago, but a stern Mormon (William H. Macy) is willing to take the job, adding tension to her already precarious home situation.

Leaving Oklahoma, the kids head west into the gooey center of Sylvia’s true agenda. It’s not much of a trip, the only real highlight being Clarke’s split decision to pick up a hitchhiker, who turns out to be a male stripper (“Rocket Science’s” Nicholas D’Agosto, handsome enough, but not exactly Vegas material).

It’s clear the film’s turned a corner when even a soft-core, gay-stripper subplot manages to yield enlightening feel-good revelations — and just wait’ll the duo get a chance to put those life lessons into practice a few miles down the road. How did a film that began with prison-rape jokes succeed in becoming an afterschool special? It’s in good company, of course, fitting right in with such teen satires as “Camp” and “Saved.”

For those not hip to its smug “out is in” mentality, “Dirty Girl’s” redeeming feature is its cast. Temple is vixen enough to carry the part, but manages to project a real wit burning beneath the layers of makeup and dumb-blonde shtick her character affects around others. At 21, she takes the jailbait edge off the role, and her accent is good enough that few would guess she’s from the U.K. As Clarke, Dozier is a real discovery, with a genuine, John Ritter-like charisma beneath those extra pounds. Watching him transform from creepy cafeteria lurker to charismatic star is one of the film’s great pleasures.

Music choices keep things feeling fabulous, even when they’re not, though two songs — Le Tigre’s “Deceptacon” and the Oak Ridge Boys’ “Elvira” — repeat a few too many times on the soundtrack.

Dirty Girl

Production: A Weinstein Co. release of an Ideal Partners, Hart/Lunsford Pictures presentation in association with Cherry Sky Films, the Salt Co. of a Paris Films production. Produced by Rob Paris, Jana Edelbaum, Rachel Cohen, Charles Pugliese. Executive producers, Ed Hart, Joan Huang, Robert Bevan, Samantha Horley, Cyril Megret, Christine Vachon, Pamela Kofler. Co-executive producers, Stephen Hays, Peter Graham. Directed, written by Abe Sylvia.

Crew: Camera (color), Steve Gainer; editor, Jonathan Lucas; music supervisor, Linda Cohen; production designer, Alan Muraoka; art director, Roni Spitzer; costume designer, Mary Claire Hannan; sound (Dolby Digital/DTS), Matthew Nicolay; supervising sound editor, Trip Brock; re-recording mixers, Kelly Vandever, Brock; stunt coordinator, Keith Campbell; special effects coordinator, Larry Fioritto; visual effects supervisor, David A. Davidson; choreographer, Bill Szobody; assistant director, James Currier; second unit camera, Richard Crudo; casting, Eyde Belasco. Reviewed at Toronto Film Festival (Discovery), Sept. 12, 2010. Running time: 106 MIN.

Cast: Clarke - Jeremy Dozier Danielle - Juno Temple Sue-Ann - Milla Jovovich Ray - William H. Macy Peggy - Mary Steenburgen Joseph - Dwight YoakamWith: Andrew Ableson, Nicholas D'Agosto, Gary Grubbs, Tim McGraw, Deborah Theaker.

More Scene

  • Andy CohenThe Shops and Restaurants at

    Andy Cohen to Receive Vito Russo Award at GLAAD Media Awards

    Mazel, Andy Cohen! Bravo’s late-night talk show host is set to receive the Vito Russo Award at the 30th annual GLAAD Media Awards on May 4 in New York City. More Reviews Broadway Review: 'Ain't Too Proud' Off Broadway Review: Daveed Diggs in 'White Noise' Sarah Jessica Parker will present him with the award, which [...]

  • Variety TV Summit Europe

    Variety TV Summit Europe Coming to London on June 13

    Variety’s TV Summit Europe will coincide with London Tech Week this year, returning to the city on June 13. The international conference will be held at the Royal Lancaster and is co-produced by global events company Informa’s KNect365 division, the world’s largest business-to-business organizer. The one-day summit will focus on the intersection of content and [...]

  • David Furnish, Bryce Dallas Howard, Taron

    'Rocketman': Paramount Previews Footage of Elton John Biopic

    “Rocketman” is ready for lift off. Paramount Pictures threw a cocktail party Monday night to preview 15 minutes of the upcoming Elton John biopic, set for release on May 31, at the Troubadour in Los Angeles, the legendary rock club where John made his U.S. debut nearly 50 years ago. More Reviews Broadway Review: 'Ain't [...]

  • The CalArts REDCAT Gala 2019 Honoring

    Pixar's Pete Docter Honored at CalArts REDCAT Gala

    Pixar’s Pete Docter reminisced about his days as a student at CalArts on Saturday night at the 2019 CalArts REDCAT Gala, where he received the Distinguished Alumni Award. For the wide-eyed boy from Minnesota, where life was more routine, attending CalArts “was a free-for-all. It was eye-opening in a lot of ways,” he recalled. “But [...]

  • Sasha Pieterse, Eli Brown, Sydney Park

    'Pretty Little Liars' Spinoff Unexpectedly Coincides With College Admissions Scandal

    It was a case of art imitating life at Saturday night’s Hollywood premiere of “The Perfectionists” — Freeform’s “Pretty Little Liars” spinoff about a scandal involving college students striving for excellence by any means necessary. The TV show’s debut was coincidently preceded by a real-life college scandal involving Hollywood celebrities who allegedly didn’t let a [...]

  • Keira Knightley'The Aftermath' film screening, Arrivals,

    Keira Knightley Talks 'Aftermath,' Alexander Skarsgård and Another Itchy Wardrobe

    The reigning queen of period pieces, Keira Knightley, knows a thing or two about historical clothing. “Lining. Lining is always important,” the Oscar-nominated actress playfully advised on Wednesday at the premiere of her post-WWII drama “Aftermath.” “If you get a lot of itchy stuff always put lining in it. I have learned that from having [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content