Dirty Love

PERIOD PIECE McCarthy fights that not-so-fresh feeling.
PERIOD PIECE McCarthy fights that not-so-fresh feeling.

Time Out says

Ah, those innocent days of the mid-1990s. Back then, the pop-culture factory still wasted energy trying to convince us (and itself) that the junk it discharged actually had value. In '96, for example, we were inundated with reports of the genuine comedic talent of the Playboy Playmate cohost of MTV's Singled Out, Jenny McCarthy. "She's the new Lucille Ball!" the rags screamed (though no one looked at Lucy's cans unless she was shoving bonbons between them). But judging by her subsequent MTV sketch-comedy show, McCarthy had decent comic instincts, and a rare eagerness to laugh at herself, no matter how crude or goofy the stunt.

Which is why Dirty Love, her self-written comeback vehicle (directed by her soon-to-be-ex-husband), is so dispiriting. McCarthy is still a tremendously appealing presence, but her script about a gal who tries to move on after her himbo boyfriend kicks her to the curb is pure amateur hour. The disparity is really amazing—McCarthy's sheer brio manages to elevate the lowest of the lowbrow (rubbing puke into her boobs, flopping around in her own menstrual blood), but she's stranded in a sea of misfiring gags, tissue-thin characters and incongruous schmaltz. And the star receives almost no help: Eddie Kaye Thomas, as her nice-guy romantic destiny, performs like it's a community-service obligation, and Carmen Electra...well, at least she has fun as the faux-ghetto confidante. Those puff pieces were right: Jenny McCarthy has talent. Too bad the only one taking a chance on her is McCarthy herself. (Opens Fri; AMC Empire.)
Noah Tarnow



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