Dirt (Dumber than Dirt)

Title: Dirt (Dumber than Dirt)
Rating: 3.5/5
Genre: Black Comedy
Starring: Tracy Fraim, Michael Covert, Tara Chocol
Director: Michael Covert, Tracy Fraim

It isn't often that I feel the urge to watch a comedy, and so you'd probably think when the desire swings my way I'd be spoilt for choice. You'd be wrong. Comedies so often seem to re-use stale jokes and I seem to have a very specific – specifically crude – taste in humour. If it's a 'boy meets girl' story it's out. If it's about a talking animal, it's out. If, for any reason there's a frat boy that says 'dude,' out. Is it any wonder the last film reviewed entirely played for laughs was about a junkie elephant with crack in his ass. And so with my very limited choices I come across a promising indie title; a tale of two brothers in their late thirties wholly dependant on their mother to cook and clean for them, and when she passes on it isn't long before they realise they need a woman in their lives. Sadly, they're not really smart enough to know where to find one, and so ensues a desperate quest for survival involving strippers, prostitutes, kidnap, robbery, sadistic sheriffs and love.

Alright, so love isn't exactly integral to the story though certainly plays its role as the film progresses, most of it is all about the other less legal stuff, much of this films charm lying with the charisma of these two brothers, bantering and looking out for each other, both just as clueless on life outside of their own home. On the one hand is the elder brother, Junior, given the task of looking out for his simple minded sibling and keeping him out of trouble, harbouring resentment for being forced into such a situation but with a sense of kinship that runs deeper than any verbal abuse he can spit his way. Shielded even more from the world is Scooter, the less intelligent but less mentally scarred of the two brothers. Amongst all the unknowns is the only recognisable face of the sheriff (Patrick Warburton - Rules of Engagement), delivering a stand out performance in his determination to catch these two fugitives, casually beating people just because it brings a little smile to his face. Despite the film's name there is intelligence on offer here; the characters might be simple minded and naïve but it never descends quite into the depths of “teen comedy,” relying on fart jokes and moronic slapstick to make it's point. There are no caricatures on display here; you never think for a second that these people couldn't exist in some, less exaggerated form, satirically showing negative stereotypes and spinning them into a positive light.

I sometimes get accused of picking on America's flaws and stereotypes a little too heavily, and perhaps that's true, or perhaps they're just overly sensitive to judgement from someone across the pond. Perhaps this comparative lack of sensitivity regarding fellow Americans mocking themselves is what allowed this film to be made, or hell, perhaps the portrayal of dumber than dirt Americans is why this film never became well known in the first place. Inbred beer swilling hicks, armed to the teeth, lost without their momma, and not so much 'willing to resort to violence' as much as violence being the first solution that springs to mind; I doubt it's really a true portrayal of the south these days but part of me likes to think that there are people just like this, who despite it all still manage to have their heart in the right place. Fans of the Coen Brothers should get on this pronto, but for me, it largely just reminded me how few times I laugh at comedies.


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