In the last few posts I've talked about good dirt and bad dirt. In this
one I want to talk about Dirt Merchant — no not a purveyor of dirt but
a guy whose last name is Merchant and whose first name (albeit a
nickname) is Dirt. As far as I know Dirt Merchant is not related to
singer Natalie Merchant. Mainly because Dirt is a fictional character.
Although I kind of get the feeling that Dirt Merchant, had he been real,
might have been the brother that Natalie didn't like to talk about. In
any case what we get is the screwball comedy Dirt Merchant (1999).
Dirt is played by Danny Masterson, who after a while I finally recognized
as being one of the people on That 70s Show. Other than that it doesn't
include anybody really famous except possibly for ex-porn actress Jenna
Jameson, and maybe actor Tim Thomerson — whose name you might not
know but who you would probably recognize if you saw him and say "Oh
yeah. That guy."
So let's get into the dirt of it. Dirt Merchant is a down on his luck guy
just out of college who out of desperation takes a job as a process server
for a private eye. A job, as it turns out, for which he has a real talent.
But when he attempts to serve a summons to a famous rock 'n roll musician
and finds the guy dead by the pool he is blamed for the crime and the
search is on for the real killer.
The movie uses a kind of mock private eye movie background narration
throughout that is quite well done and very funny. It spoofs a good
number of crazy characters ranging from the classic ex-college chums,
the uncaring ex-girlfriend, record producers, musicians, groupies, MTV
types, cops, and even a rather mellow and fairly likable serial killer.
During the course of the movie Dirt is repeatedly slapped or slugged,
knocked unconscious, kicked in the yarbles, mauled by a Mexican wrestler,
and stabbed in the ass. The life of a P.P.S. — private process server —
is not an easy one.
I found myself laughing in almost every scene of this movie, and at pretty
much every other line of dialogue. And it's been a long time since I ran
into a movie like that.