National Lampoon’s Dirty Movie

What do a gynecologist and a pizza boy have in common? Did you hear about the Polish girl who dropped her gum in the toilet? How can tell if you're at a gay picnic? What did the black lady get after she had an abortion?

I’m not answering any of those. “National Lampoon's Dirty Movie,” however, harbors no such qualms.

OK, I’ll give you this one: What’s the difference between an onion and a dead whore? I cried when I cut up the onion.

That gag alone should acquaint to the level of humor in this direct-to-DVD effort, a purposely/virtually plotless comedy that stays true to its title, and then some. It honors the late, iconic magazine’s glory days by co-opting its famous gun-to-dog’s-head cover image for a pre-credits “turn off your cell phones” message. But director Jerry Daigle was dreaming if he thought this would ever see a theatrical release where such a warning would be needed. Once a signal of quality (hitting heights with the classics “Animal House” and “Vacation”), the “Lampoon” brand has become watered down by so much inferior product (“Last Resort,” “Gold Diggers”) as to become meaningless.

“Dirty Movie” even pokes fun at that in its opening moments. Its concept is that a producer (Christopher Meloni of TV’s “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit,” here in fake teeth, goofy glasses and a nerdy hairpiece) has the idea that making the most offensive film in history will be a gold mine. The studio CEO (comedian Robert Kline) agrees, although the director (Mario Cantone of "Sex and the City") can't quite grasp the idea of a picture with no story, but just dirty joke after dirty joke.

Those filmmakers occasionally reappear in brief wraparound bits, in between all the jokes that comprise their film. These rapid-fire bits appear as sketches involving recurring characters like a doctor, some hillbillies, a bartender, a pirate and a suburban mom, for some reason played by Cyndi Lauper. No race, color, creed, national origin, ancestry, gender, disability, religion, age or sexual orientation emerges unscathed. It's like "Laugh-In" crossed with ... well, something terribly filthy.

Daigle's commentary track with co-writer Alan Donnes alleges they were aiming for social satire, but they're not that skilled or sharp to pull that off. Instead, "Dirty Movie" comes across as just that; it lacks the sharp, knowing wit of, say, team Zucker/Abraham/Zucker, whose "Kentucky Fried Movie" this one approaches most in a couple of commercial parodies for Vienna Sausage (the wretched food's new tagline: "more than just artificial gelatin and leftover cattle feces").

Is it in bad taste? Absolutely! That's what they were going for, and wildly succeeded. Whether that equates to being funny is up to the viewer's taste and tolerance for punch lines primarily built upon stereotypes of minorities. I grimaced at most, but laughed at a few, and then felt bad for doing so. While it's not "good," it's not boring; unlike "Lampoon" efforts of the last decade, at least it's watchable and tries something different.

Lastly, among a cast of dozens, no one — and I mean no one — tells a joke quite like Lindsey Vuolo, a former Playboy Playmate. Why do I sense several guys now clicking "Add to Queue"? —Rod Lott