Is there ever a good time to release a comedy about a woman giving head to a dog? In Bobcat Goldthwait’s Stay, a young man (Bryce Johnson) urges his fiancee (Melinda Page Hamilton) to reveal her deepest, darkest secret, and gets more than he bargained for when she confesses that, as a bored and curious teen, she once pleasured her pooch. The movie screened in January at the Sundance Film Festival and showed up in the fall preview issue of Premiere with a release date of September 29, atrociously retitled Sleeping Dogs Lie to distinguish it from Marc Forster’s recent thriller, Stay. It finally opened in New York and Los Angeles on October 20 and was scheduled for release here on November 24 (holiday counterprogramming at its finest). But now Matt Cowal of Samuel Goldwyn Films/Roadside Attractions, the movie’s distributor, confirms that the Chicago release date has been moved back to January 19.
I haven’t had a chance to see the movie, but according to the Hollywood Reporter it “flabbergasted and fractured” the audience at Sundance (except for Todd McCarthy, who panned it in Variety). It also picked up good reviews from Mark Olsen in the Los Angeles Times (“Rather than the escalating gross-out spectacular it could have been, Sleeping Dogs Lie is an unexpectedly thoughtful look at what it takes to make relationships work”) and Stephen Holden in the New York Times (“The uncomfortable message sent by Bobcat Goldthwait’s lean, subversive comedy Sleeping Dogs Lie is how easy it is to gross out people who think they’re so swinging and cool”).
Goldthwait definitely deserves a break after what happened to his first movie, Shakes the Clown (1992). Aptly called “the Citizen Kane of alcoholic clown movies,” it starred Goldthwait as the title character, a birthday clown who drinks like Charles Bukowski. Brady Bunch mom Florence Henderson plays a revolting slut who has a one-night stand with Shakes, and a prestardom Adam Sandler, in his single best screen performance, is the chronically depressed clown Dink the Doormat. It’s one hell of a funny movie, but upon its release it was reportedly picketed by clowns as defamatory, and it flopped at the box office. Who would have guessed that clowns have no sense of humor? Who’d have guessed they were so organized? (Perhaps they all piled out of the same little car.)
Since then Goldthwait has directed some episodic TV, including Crank Yankers, Chappelle’s Show, and Jimmy Kimmel Live, but this is his first theatrical movie since Shakes. You have to admire someone who gets scolded by clowns and comes back (albeit 14 years later) with a movie about having sex with a house pet. Perhaps by January they can come up with a better title than Sleeping Dogs Lie. How about Lassie Come Hard?