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July 19, 2011

Movie Review: The Wild and Wonderful Whites of West Virginia (2009)

Crazy white trash characters are great for movies. You can look at them and think, "Wow, they're fucked up," while patting yourself on the back for being at least a little better off. When the characters aren't fictional, though, it's tough to know how to react. Initially, you laugh your ass off, partially in shock. Eventually, you realize that these people are out there, and they're breeding.

Buy The Wild and Wonderful Whites of West Virginia on DVD or Watch it Instantly

Jesco White is the accidental star of the family. His dad D. Ray, the family patriarch, was a famous tap dancer until he was killed in a shootout. Jesco picked up the skill and ran with it. PBS made a documentary about him in 1991 called The Dancing Outlaw, and they made a sequel eight years later. They were both popular, and after seeing them, Johnny Knoxville of Jackass fame decided that a follow-up involving the entire White clan needed to be made. He wasn't wrong.

We often make fun of people like this. I laughed throughout the movie at certain things, but there were many things that rightfully concerned me. In fact, they concerned me enough to want to someday show my daughter the movie as a deterrent to criminal activity and drug abuse. In one scene, Jesco's sister Mamie tells her niece Kirk that CPS probably took her baby because they "found drugs in it." Drugs. It. Two words that made me shake my head. Later, Kirk swears she'll get her shit together while doing a line of coke off the toilet tank in a dive bar. That should give you some idea of what you're getting yourself into.

That's not the half of it. Jesco has two more sisters. We have Kirk's mother, Bo, who also has a son named Derek. Bo and Derek (two names that look hilarious on screen next to each other) spend lots of time together doing any drugs they can get their hands on. Then we have Sue Bob. Sue Bob is a former stripper who claims to have brought home $1500 to $2000 a night. When you see a picture of her when she was younger on the movie's official website, you see how that might be reasonable, but you don't see that in the movie. The Sue Bob you see claiming to be the sexiest one in the family makes you shake your head like a golden retriever trying to do calculus homework.

Sue Bob White: The sexiest one in the family.

By the end of the movie, you'll know you never want to be anywhere near the White family, but I also felt a little sympathy for Jesco. Yes, he was screwed up, but he saw his dad get killed, and I think he suffers from depression. There's a good amount of unexpected philosophy from him, and it makes you see him for more than just a mess. There's a hurt scared kid in there, and I think the drugs and chaos are Jesco's way of keeping that kid calm. I intend to go back to the original documentaries to get the full picture, but you don't need to see them to enjoy this. Wild and wonderful it is, just like the Whites themselves.

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