Where the Truth Lies

Not since Showgirls has an NC-17 flop been this irresistible the truth hurts. awful finds new meaning in this monumental misfire from Atom Egoyan, the Armenian director of art films such as The Sweet Hereafter and Exotica. The source material — a gossipy 2003 roman a clef by Rupert Holmes that imagines what broke up the 1950s comedy team of Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis — is tawdry enough. But to see fine actors like Colin Firth (he plays Vince Collins, the Dean figure) and Kevin Bacon (wildly miscast as "wacky Jew" Lanny Morris, the Jerry clone) stuck in this career crusher would be sad indeed, if it wasn't such a guilty pleasure. What else do you call a movie that posits so many delicious excuses for the split: Did one of the team try to stick his dick up his partner's butt? Were both involved in the murder of a hotel maid with whom they had just enjoyed a three-way? Did the Jersey mob dump the body to protect their reputations?

Certainly none of this turns up in Dean and Me (A Love Story), the just-published memoir by Lewis. Neither does Karen O'Connor (Alison Lohman), the reporter who wants to write a book on the boys and will do anything to please them, including hot lesbo action with a girl in bunny ears and a dress worn by Karen as a polio-stricken child when she appeared on a telethon hosted by Lanny and Vince. This movie isn't over-the-top — it doesn't know where the top is. Trash addicts will eat up every graphic minute, even if they prefer to wait for the DVD.