Dirty Love

Former MTV hostess and pin-up girl Jenny McCarthy is attempting a comeback with “Dirty Love,” a you-go-girl “Sex and the City”-style comedy designed to show off McCarthy’s comedic skills. It does this perfectly: McCarthy has no comedic skills, and the film more than adequately proves it.

McCarthy, who wrote the film (!!!!), plays a New York photographer named Rebecca whose boyfriend Richard (Victor Webster) has just cheated on her. The rest of the film focuses on her desire to make him jealous by letting him see her in the company of hotter, better men, but of course each ploy goes awry and she only winds up embarrassing herself.

Her humiliations are frequent and extreme, but in many cases, it is McCarthy the actress and not Rebecca the character for whom I am most embarrassed. Witness the awful scene in which Rebecca gets her period in the middle of a supermarket and befouls the floor with her secretions. Or better yet, don’t witness it. It’s a prime example of the difficulty of gross-out humor: If it’s not funny, it’s just gross.

Throughout the film, McCarthy tries so desperately and sweatily to be funny that one is exhausted just watching her. She has no problem pulling goofy faces, doing silly voices and (especially) falling down. She seems to wallow in the debasement of herself, and while I admire an actor’s commitment to getting the laugh, when there is no laugh to get, my admiration turns first to pity and then to annoyance. For the most part, her idea of being hilarious is to make funny faces, exaggerating every expression she makes. You cannot imagine how quickly this gets old.

She is “supported,” for lack of a better word, by Carmen Electra and Kam Heskin as her irritating friends. Electra plays a white girl who talks like she’s black (because THAT hasn’t been mined for laughs anywhere else already), while Heskin plays a shrill, dumb bimbo (see previous parentheses).

What McCarthy needs, first of all, is a good script, not this no-brainer crap. Once she has her hands on a good script, she needs a director who will rein her in, not let her loose. You can make a case for letting someone like Jim Carrey or Will Ferrell go crazy when the cameras are rolling, but McCarthy just doesn’t have the gift for physical comedy that they do. What she needs most is focus and direction, and this film gives her none it.

D- (1 hr., 35 min.; R, abundant harsh profanity, some naked breasts, some sexuality, a lot of gross-out humor and images.)