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Dirty Love

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Dirty Love

Director: John Asher
Runtime: 95 minutes
Cast: Jenny McCarthy, Eddie Kaye Thomas, Carmen Electra

It's tempting to say that any film whose opening scene features Jenny McCarthy repeatedly screaming "Oh my gaaawwwddd!" at the top of her lungs has nowhere to go but up. Sadly, Dirty Love proves otherwise. Written by McCarthy and directed by McCarthy's husband John Asher (a divorce is in progress), Dirty Love offers a series of desperate would-be comic moments. A representative sample: High on acid-laced Ecstasy, McCarthy goes to bed with a fish-fetishizing swinger. The next morning she wakes up with the imprint of a fish on her back. Ah, comedy.

In her heyday—think back, wasn't Reagan in office?—McCarthy's calling card was her willingness to humiliate herself. Unlike other sex symbols, she didn't take herself too seriously, and was game for a fart joke now and then. That's fine, apart from one problem: McCarthy has little to no comedic skills. In any given situation, she has three stock responses: mug wildly, shriek, or cry. That isn't enough to carry a movie, even one that theoretically ought to play to her strengths. After all, it's not like she can blame the screenwriter.

At least McCarthy has the sense to surround herself with talent that's unlikely to overshadow her. Playing a struggling photographer devastated by a breakup with her supermodel boyfriend, McCarthy relies heavily on her war council/roommates to get her through the crisis. These include a dim-bulb aspiring actress (Kam Heskin, doing a dumb-blonde routine that wouldn't be out of place on Benny Hill) and Carmen Electra as an Ebonics-slanging beautician, a performance that needs only the application of burnt cork and a "nobody here but us chickens" joke to be worthy of a minstrel show.

Still undeterred? Consider this moment: Desperately trying to purchase feminine hygiene products, McCarthy trails menstrual blood through a supermarket, causing unwitting shoppers to slip and slide through the aisles. It has to be seen to be believed, or it would if it had to be seen at all.