Review by Derrick Carter
Running Time: 1 hour 29 minutes
MPAA Rating: R for Strong and Aberrant Sexual Content, Drug Use and Language
Directed by: Bobcat Goldthwait
Written by: Bobcat Goldthwait
Starring: Melinda Paige Hamilton, Bryce Johnson, Geoff Pierson, Colby French, Jack Plotnick, Bonita Friedericy & Brian Posehn
We all have deep dark secrets that we never plan on sharing with the world. Regardless of what you might tell yourself at night, there’s at least one little white lie that you’ve told someone to save face or to avoid hurt feelings. Of all people, comedian Bobcat Goldthwait wrote and directed this scathingly dark romantic comedy that manages to pack in a meaningful message in spite of its initial shock value and low production values. By the end of this review, you’ll definitely know whether or not SLEEPING DOGS LIE is for you. I liked this movie, but I have a sick sense of humor.
Amy has a secret. One that she’s never told anybody because she’s never had a reason to divulge it. Now that Amy is engaged to her loving fiancé John, she feels that she needs to be upfront and honest with him. In college, Amy committed oral sex act with her dog and the memories of that night have haunted her ever since. Expecting her boyfriend to be understanding and caring no matter what, Amy reveals her secret which has disastrous results and causes her entire life to spiral out of control…
Taken at face value, SLEEPING DOGS LIE appears to rely an awful lot on purely shocking content, but that’s surprisingly, not the case at all with this film. There’s actually a heartfelt core to this movie as well as a brutally honest story very much worth telling. In lesser hands, this material could have easily devolved into a simple formula of one dirty joke after another even dirtier joke, but Bobcat Goldthwait packs a bit of social commentary into his films. SLEEPING DOGS LIE isn’t so much about Amy’s act of bestiality (though there are lots of laugh out loud jokes that got huge responses out of me based on that concept alone), but rather a satire on how little white lies can be a good thing and how some secrets are worth keeping. What’s even more ingenious about this film is how Goldthwait plays SLEEPING DOGS out like a conventional romantic comedy with a little sick twist that ultimately shapes the film into something else entirely.
This isn’t to say that SLEEPING DOGS LIE is anywhere near great or perfect. It’s clear that this was an amateur effort. The writing is rock solid, but the production values are rough around the edges. This is further hammered home by a wavering level of acting that ranges from scene to scene. It looks as if Bobcat shot this movie on a simple home camcorder, but the story is so entertaining that it makes the cheap visuals a whole lot easier to stomach.
Though it’s far from his best work (Bobcat has since moved on to bigger projects with WORLD’S GREATEST DAD and GOD BLESS AMERICA), SLEEPING DOGS LIE is a whole lot better than you might expect walking into it. Yes, there’s definitely a hefty amount of shock value, but it’s mainly around the premise as a whole which is executed with a lot restraint and a surprising amount of respect to mature storytelling. The acting and production values aren’t exactly good, but the writing and overarching message (about how lying can be a legitimately good thing at times) make up for those faults. You should definitely know by now whether or not SLEEPING DOGS LIE is up your alley or not. I enjoyed this film and agree with its message, so that’s me.