Maurice Jamal’s Dirty Laundry


“If the beans ain’t cooking, there’s something wrong with the crockpot!” exclaims Loretta Devine’s fat, sassy matriarch in what is surely the best line of Dirty Laundry (there isn’t much competition). She’s referring to her daughter-in-law’s uterus here (yeah, ew), but she might as well be talking about the own cheesy crockpot of a film that she’s starring in. The basic plot involves Sheldon (Rockmond Dunbar), a prodigal—and homosexual—son who returns to his Southern home after discovering that he fathered a child 10 years ago (thankfully, the mechanics of this are glossed over). Sheldon—who prefers, inexplicably, to be called Patrick—is a self-consciously urbane writer for a women’s magazine; when the kid shows up at the door of his “fabulous” New York apartment, he tells us that “in the literary world this is what we call an emotional climax.” Sorry, but…no. Weirdly, writer-director Maurice Jamal decides to show us this pivotal scene out of sequence, chopping it from the beginning of the movie and setting it down neatly in the middle; the result is a needlessly confusing first act that requires great feats of unrewarded concentration. Anyway, with gay, elitist Sheldon back among his wacky, loud, fried-chicken-chomping family, hijinks ensue. The end.