Friday, November 24, 2006

Sleeping Dogs Lie (2006)

Clumsy, crude and sweet (often in the same scene), this quickie feature from writer/director Bob Goldthwait benefits from a simple tenet: No matter how absurd, no matter how sick or rife for cheap-n-easy laffs, the situation is to be taken seriously and examined as though it were genuinely happening. This is an important consideration when you're making a film wherein the lead actress can be and at one point is referred to as "a dog-blowing cunt." Any trace of cruelty or mockery in Goldthwait's writing or direction would kill the film dead; fortunately, his sympathy for freaks and losers keeps the dirty-joke premise from overwhelming the proceedings, and it instead develops into a wry and rueful treatise on the concept of total honestly. There's also the winsome performance of Melinda Page Hamilton to contend with, as Ms. Hamilton's likeability helps the film's boat dodge some potential hull punctures. Lastly, the film is, lest I forget, really damn funny. Goldthwait allows his lead actress space to hew out a realistic character, but he also exploits his talented supporting cast to the fullest of their abilities. (Funniest line, bar none, is Brian Posehn's awkward attempt to commiserate with Hamilton's shattered life: "I once made out with a corpse. I never told anybody that...") Basically, this is better than you'd expect. It'd be even better if it didn't look like ass dipped in ass, but we take what we can get.

Grade: B


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