I liked “Dirty Girl” more last year when it was called “Easy A” and starred Emma Stone, but despite its similarity to that year old comedy, it has one very big thing going for it — the scrappy charm of star Juno Temple.
It’s 1987 in a small god-fearing town. Temple plays Danielle, the school dirty girl who reluctantly befriends an overweight, gay classmate Clarke (Jeremy Dozier). They are two kids who go on a road trip, one who wants to reconnect with a father she’s never met and another who wants to get away from a father he knows all too well. Their friendship dulls her hard edge and allows them both to be themselves.
The “Easy A” reference comes from the early part of the film. Danielle does Clarke a kindness and pretends to be his girlfriend so his homophobic father (Dwight Yoakum) will leave him alone. Beyond that it plays like a low budget, raunchy John Hughes comedy. It deals with real issues — teen rebellion, abandonment and coming out of the closet — but for every moment that feels authentic there are two more that feel forced or farcical.
Temple rises above it all with bluster that covers real vulnerability. It’s the kind of performance that gets young actresses noticed. Too bad it is in such a lackluster movie. Not to worry, though, we’ll see much more of her in the new “Three Musketeers” reboot.