Wednesday, August 12, 2009

249) Sleeping Dogs Lie (2006)

249) Sleeping Dogs Lie (2006) Dir: Bobcat Goldthwait Date Released: October 2006 Date Seen: August 12, 2009 Rating: 3.5/5

The deceptive first half of Sleeping Dogs Lie, comedian Bobcat Goldthwait's second directorial effort, is a lot like Meet the Parents but a smidge more raunchy. When Amy (Melinda Page Hamilton) brings her fiance John (Bryce Johnson) home, their engagement is threatened by familial intervention. This time however it's not because daddy's a spy or somesuch painfully unfunny mishigoss but rather because Amy is encouraged by her mother to be completely honest with John and tell him about a youthful indiscretion she's been afraid to tell him about for a while (It's dog fellatio. There. I said it. Trust me, that's not a spoiler. You find out in the first three minutes.). Harmful meddling as encouragement: now that sounds like a real family.

That light but surprisingly perceptive comedic touch is what separates the Goldthwaits from the Roaches, it seems. Though the film fulfills the romantic comedy genre's need to restore order back to Amy's turbulent life, it does so only after showing Amy just how hard it can be to hurt your loved ones by telling the truth. Especially when it comes to sex. Whether its regular infidelity or sucking a dog off, the sticky and not just a little conspiratorial proximity created in the aftermath of sex puts everyone on edge, alienating parents and children alike. 

Goldthwait's refusal to separate his not-so secret love of a good blue jokes from his heartfelt attention to his characters is striking, even if it is voiced within a familiar comedic stock plot. The lengths he goes to teach Amy how to handle sex* after-the-fact is pretty striking, especially the way that it initially seems to threaten her relationship with her rebound beau Ed (Colby French).** That helping of comedic nuance makes Sleeping Dogs Lie smart and sweet, which for once is not a sarcastic epithet coming from me.***

*Because let's face it, that's what the film's about. Amy's crystal meth-smoking brother Dougie (Jack Plotnick) is tolerated because he just went through a bad break-up, as his mom tells John, making sex the thorniest root of familial taboo in the family.

**It doesn't. That might be a spoiler. C'mon, did you really think that he'd leave her a broken woma...oh. You saw Shakes the Clown too, huh?

***I try not to be sarcastic on the interwebs. The two don't seem to mix.

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