By Phil Hall | February 20, 2006

Remember Cuba Gooding Jr.? Ten years ago, he was a hot property thanks to his Oscar-winning performance in “Jerry Maguire.” Today, though, his cred is swirling in the toilet thanks to a series of stinkers like “Rat Race, “Snow Dogs,” “Boat Trip” and “The Fighting Temptations.” Gooding is attempting to re-establish his reputation by going low-budget indie with “Dirty.” And guess what? It doesn’t work!

Gooding plays a Los Angeles cop who is part of a sleazy and corrupt task force (inspired by the real-life miscreants of the LAPD’s Rampart division). He and his partner, a Latino who was a former gang member before going blue (Clifton Collins Jr.) wind up in some kind of mess involving the transport of confiscated drugs to a local gangster (Wyclef Jean). The Latino cop’s former gang pals also get in on the act, resulting in all sorts of bloody mayhem.

Or at least I assume that’s what is going on. The production values on “Dirty” are so painfully amateurish that it is often hard to determine what is happening. The cinematography is murky and shaky, the editing is dull and clumsy, and the sound recording isn’t exactly pristine. Not that any of this matters when you have a script where every third word is scatological.

Collins and Gooding never come across as real cops. They genuinely feel like poseurs who enjoy talking trash while wearing LAPD gear. Colllins is capable of better (see “Capote”). As for Gooding, he may have been capable of better at one time, but instead of “Show me the money” the phrase to be identified with him should be “Show him the door.”

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