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Overall Rating
4.09

Awesome: 31.91%
Worth A Look48.94%
Just Average: 14.89%
Pretty Crappy: 4.26%
Sucks: 0%

4 reviews, 23 user ratings


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Female Trouble
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by Dr. Isaksson

"Divine's got lots of problems"
4 stars

1974's "Female Trouble" was the fourth full length film written and directed by the 'Prince of Puke' himself, John Waters. The film was once again the showcase for his favorite Dreamlander of all, Divine. There's a whole lot of screaming to be done in this film. It's classic Waters...

After releasing his first full length silent film Mondo Trasho where Divine played a woman who suffers from a really bad day, Waters gave us Multiple Maniacs, a twisted spoof on a gang of serial killers ALA The Manson Clan. Then in 1972, Waters released the epic Pink Flamingos. Considered by many of his fans to their favorite of all his films. (If not the most memorably twisted.) For his next film, Female Trouble, Waters was attempting to push the limits of dark humor further than ever before. This time with a more solid, thought out script. The result was a story so full of lunacy and centered around a character so completely insane that his past characters would seem almost sensible in comparison. This main character, played by Divine, was so obsessed with getting attention that she was willing to kill and even die in order to gain the instant fame she so desired. In the days when there were no reality shows to get your 15 minutes of notoriety, what else was a delusional girl to do?

Divine continued his trend of dressing up in wild costumes with wacked out makeup to star as Dawn Davenport, a woman who Kelly Osbourne is destined to become. It's 1963 as the film starts out and we see Dawn, in her teens, at a Catholic all girls school where she and her two misfit friends Chicklet (Susan Walsh) and Consetta (Cookie Mueller), spray their hair high, get in trouble for arriving to class late, threaten to 'cut up' their fellow students and bitch about how much they hate school and their parents. When Christmas morning rolls around at the Davenport house, Dawn is outraged when she doesn't get the black cha-cha heels that she was hoping for. She throws a major tantrum which results in the famous scene where the Christmas tree falls over, pinning Dawn's mother underneath. (Director Jim Jarmusch has said that that scene sticks out in his mind as the most memorable moment from all of Waters' films.)

Dawn runs away from home where she meets a drifter Earl Peterson, (a male role also played by Divine) who gets her pregnant and then takes off. Dawn has the baby and names her Taffy. For the next 5 years, Dawn takes up odd jobs to get by which range from a waitress to a go-go girl. This kinda work has Dawn down about her life and in hopes of cheering her up, her two friends Chicklet and Consetta suggest that she go get her hair done at the Lipstick Beauty Salon. It's here that Dawn meets the Dashers. Donald and Donna Dasher (David Lochary and Mary Vivian Pearce) own and run the salon and they take an interested in Dawn's 'look' after she 'applies' for acceptance into the place.

Dawn soon falls for a stylist named Gator and they are married. But their married life is anything but bliss because infidelity, drunken brawls and a fat mother-in-law named Ida, (played by Edith Massey who has bleached blonde hair and wears an overly tight one piece leather body suit), are raining on Dawn's parade. Ida does her best to get back at Dawn and the grief that Gator received from her with a nice glass of acid. Despite all the trouble, Donald and Donna Dasher have a plan for Dawn, they find her white trash problems fascinating and want to put her into showbiz. The Dashers begin to mold her into the perfect criminal because to them, 'Crime is Beauty'. They shoot her up with liquid eyeliner to increase her beauty, feed her mini eyebrow brushes and take photos of her beating her daughter Taffy (Mink Stole). Dawn becomes obsessed with her need of stardom and is willing to do anything to get it. Even kill. Taffy is certain her mother is crazy and defies everything Dawn tries to preach to her. The two have a mother-daughter relationship that is defiantly not stable. (Anyone who breaks a chair over their daughter's back has anger issues.) Far into the second half of the film, there is just no stopping the train wreck of twisted fame that is Dawn Davenport and ultimately, she achieves everything she has set out to attain. For Dawn, getting the electric chair is the ultimate in achieving fame.

Female Trouble is definitely a warped tale packed with the typical biting John Waters dialogue and a bunch of great campy performances by the Dreamlanders. Mary Vivian Pearce plays the snooty bitch Donna Dasher perfectly and Mink Stole nearly steals the show from Divine as the horrifically bratty Taffy. I especially liked the younger version of Taffy who was played by a young girl whose name I don't know but whose performance was damn near brilliant. Divine is (as always) awesome as Dawn and his wigs and makeup are something Siouxsie Sioux could admire. Along with his many other performances, Divine delivers big. As for the cast of Waters regulars, the Dreamlanders all give better performances then in past films but there is a strange nastiness written into all of their characters which, to me, was a bit unappealing. Not nasty in a gross-out way but in a dark, mean spirited way. Of course a John Waters film is supposed to be full of slightly sick people but here they all have hidden agendas and they back stab and turn away from each other. I suppose that is dead on for the kind of people who seek fame through misfortune but it left me feeling a little cold towards them. I think the biggest fault I have for Female Trouble is Divine's Dawn Davenport. I just didn't like her complete lack of intelligence in any matter whatsoever. Dawn didn't have that love for her friends and family like Babs Johnson did in Pink Flamingos. Dawn just let everything go to hell and in the end I guess she got what she deserved. Was it funny? Yes, but not as great as other John Waters films.

Ricki Lake has said that Female Trouble was her favorite John Waters' film. She liked Dawn's style and her cha-cha heels and that the story was her favorite. Kinda makes sense when you watch her talk show. There's lots of Ricki Lake storylines going down in this film. Now as for the Christmas tree scene, I wasn't as impressed as Jim Jarmusch. Maybe It's because I'm not too into Christmas. What do you guys think?

The basis for "Female Trouble" is this. What would someone do and how far would they go to get famous? Is it worth all the trouble? For one woman, it was more than worth it. However, fame can be an ugly thing. And I'm not just talking about J Lo. **** 4 Stars

link directly to this review at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=4411&reviewer=296
originally posted: 06/09/03 03:50:55
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User Comments

1/22/14 fine necromounds funny to an extent, then it just gets into a game of "how offensive can john waters be?" 2 stars
2/07/13 Val Veeta One of the funniest films ever made! 5 stars
12/21/10 Moose Rapper It's Divine! 5 stars
12/25/09 Chad Dillon Cooper Anybody who hates "Hollywood" comedies needs to see this. 5 stars
10/24/09 John Hynds see, The US can do real comedy - thanks to John, Divine, Edith & the ensemble castg 5 stars
9/24/09 Dennis Simply The Finest Film ever made or to be made. 5 stars
3/16/09 Pinky I have a sick sense of humor, and I LOVE it 5 stars
3/16/09 Josie Cotton is a goddess Could not stop laughing. A comedy classic 4 stars
12/03/08 Shaun Wallner Thought this was a good film. 4 stars
7/17/07 indy loved everything about the about laughed till i cried 4 stars
11/20/06 Glenn Soffen One of my favorate Waters films. I must have seen it 50 times and I still laugh out loud! 5 stars
9/30/06 Stevnated I don't get it. It's just somethin crude and repulsive for shock value? 2 stars
11/09/05 othoob crazy shat 4 stars
2/16/05 Briggs Mushrush i think that the movie is great and is definitly worth viewing...kind of abstract. 4 stars
6/07/03 earl hoffert there is so much packed into this movie, it's insane 5 stars
2/11/03 brentley Stupid movie.... 3 stars
11/10/02 Vicious Toy/Electric Crotch One of the most hilarious pictures I've ever seen! I laugh my ass off every time I see it! 5 stars
6/19/02 YumYumKing Gotta love the popping out of the glass eye! 5 stars
3/14/02 Dreamland437 John Waters' best ever!!!!!! 5 stars
3/10/02 Brad Streep Nice girls dont wear ch-cha heels!!! Neither do I!!!! 5 stars
12/13/01 Sonia I own the movie and have been watching it for the past 12 years and I still laugh each time 5 stars
2/20/01 Rocket Boy John Waters' best, with Divine as a beauty queen. 5 stars
1/27/01 Tony Coley High camp and low taste in my favorite John Waters film. Watch it with your Mom! 5 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  02-Oct-1975 (NC-17)
  DVD: 07-Sep-2004

UK
  N/A

Australia
  N/A


Directed by
  John Waters

Written by
  John Waters

Cast
  Divine
  Mink Stole
  Susan Lowe
  Edith Massey
  David Lochary
  Mary Vivian Pearce



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