Comedy/Drama, 90 Minutes, 2010
Danielle (Juno Temple [IMDB]) is the titular “Dirty Girl”. She doesn’t play well with others, is rebelling both at school and at home and tends to look out for number one. When she’s placed in the “Special Education” class as punishment for her behavior, she’s paired with Clarke (Jeremy Dozier [IMDB]), a closeted teen with a troubled home, on a parenting exercise. They’re to take care of a “baby”, a fragile bag of flour they name “Joan”, together to see how difficult raising a baby can be.
When Danielle learns the identity of her biological father, something her formerly promiscuous mother claimed not to know, she convinces Clarke to steal his abusive father’s car and take an impromptu road trip to see him. As expected, the trip gives them opportunities to become closer, face personal demons and generally grow as people. It also launches multiple parental pursuits.
The flour-baby, which of course makes the trip with them, builds a cute running gag as her magic-markered smiley-face changes with the scenes. She becomes surprised, happy, sad or morose as she witnesses her “parents” struggle, overcome and, fight with each other. It’s a silly, but effective, gag and lends the movie a welcome dash of absurdity.
The pool of talent collected is undeniably impressive. Milla Jovovich [IMDB] and Mary Steenburgen [IMDB] are the long suffering mother’s of the delinquents. William H. Macy [IMDB] is Danielle’s soon-to-be Mormon step father trying, and failing, to forcibly eliminate the chaos in his new family. Dwight Yokam [IMDB] is Clarke’s homophobic, physically abusive father. Although much of this skill goes under-utilized, there’s no complaints to be made about the performances.
The primary themes are acceptance – both of self and others – and friendship. There aren’t many surprises. It’s a feel good movie after all; a sweet coming-of-age story with its heart in the right place.