Chubby gay teen Clarke (Dozier) and his best friend---the school bad girl, Danielle (Temple)---ditch class and hit the road in writer-director Abe Sylvia's sweet tale of outcasts on the open highway. That Dirty Girl's devolution from spiky self-acceptance parable to an over-the-top orgy of father issues (she's trying find her long-lost daddy, he's running away from his abusive one) and '80s period details isn't a complete deal-breaker owes a lot to Temple's swagger as the unapologetically provocative titular tramp.
A standout in smaller parts in films like Kaboom and Atonement, this frizzy blond actor has the air of a star-in-training in search of the right opportunity. This isn't it, unfortunately, but Temple does turn what's essentially a magical-hussy role into something more grounded and human. The rest of the cast isn't quite so lucky: Dozier's socially awkward character comes out of his shell (and out to his folks) just as the film decides to throw coherence out the window, while Mary Steenburgen's and Milla Jovovich's muddled moms are forced to sport winged-out hairdos and do little more than apologize for their parenting failures. If two impromptu stripping scenes and the necessity of martyrdom at the hands of a homophobe to save one's bestie weren't already too much, the climactic talent-show duet should make even the most devoted Glee apologist plead for a show of restraint.
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