Review: The Dirties
By Ryan MewhinneyOctober 2, 2013
The teachers say ask for help. The kids say the teachers do nothing. The parents aren't around enough, or, if they are, they aren't involved enough. The kids have too much access to content they shouldn't at a young age. The parents blame the guns, the government, censorship, but what's the cause of nutty little kids going on shooting sprees? Is it the parents, the teachers, the movies, the bullies? Oh, come on, bullies aren't enough to cause some poor teen from going off the deep end? I don't know if you remember school or not. It's like prison for some. Those unlucky ones who get picked on constantly in addition to cold hallways, absentee educators, locks, schedules, and having a release date also have to worry about the asshats who torment them amongst their peers. This is why Lord of the Flies is so scary. We know kids are awful. How would you feel if in your workplace there was a person bigger than you, who humiliated you in front of all your co-workers? But you couldn't get away because you need the money, there's no other choice; your bosses ignore your cries for help, the bully is bigger than they are; and on top of all that you're single, weird, and pimply. Ah, to be a teen again.
Matt Johnson and Owen Wilson (the actors use their own names as the names of their characters) are high school friends who are in a film class together. They're both big film geeks. They constantly are filming themselves for their film project, making their own movie, quoting from their favourite filmmakers throughout. The film idea they've come up with is a revenge story. Both Matt and Owen are bullied by a series of mean kids in their school who they call The Dirties (they use this as their film title, as well) and the boys want to kill those who have wronged them in their film. Despite this ominous film choice, Matt and Owen seem the best of friends; they laugh constantly, joking with one another, and they look like they've found the respite they need from their daily hardships through art and each other.
Sadly, it doesn't really matter how hard our protagonists try if the dirties won't stop bullying. Constant physical and psychological torment is going to make anyone snap eventually - or maybe it won't; this is the sort of discussion the filmmakers hope people will discuss after watching. Matt wants to take things a step further. His idea is to actually kill the people they've been killing in their movie. Not exactly a laughing matter and yet the movie is darkly funny for the better part of the film. Matt and Owen are both humanized as the picked upon; regardless of where the movie might go, you can't help but care for them both. Because of the divide that inevitably comes about from such a twisted idea, a Columbine-like school shooting, the tone of the film jumps gears from buddy comedy to tragedy before you know it. As messed up as the situation has been all along, even though you have a good idea of where the whole thing is going right from the start, you've played along. As an audience member, you've engaged Matt and Owen, laughed with them, cared for them, and can see their point of view. So what now?
Well, think about The Dirties. If you haven't seen the movie yet and are reading this to know whether you should go or not, definitely go. This is a must see. It's entertaining, dark, and hopefully it really gets people thinking. If you have seen The Dirties already, have you talked about it with friends? Do you have kids and have you hugged them lately? It's amazing what Matthew Johnson and Owen Wilson have done. They've made a truly entertaining film that has a lot to say, which will get people talking and really thinking differently about this kind of abuse. The things that bullying does to the poor kids it happens to - maybe it's not just the video games that are killing the kids.