KIDS: SMOKING CAN ruin your health. Not just your health—also your looks, and perhaps even more importantly, your voice. The women in the documentary The Wild and Wonderful Whites of West Virginia have all smoked and smoked and smoked their entire lives, and each of their voices sounds like the cross between a foghorn and the Cryptkeeper. When one of them speaks, it's in a register deeper than a Tuvan throat singer, raspier than current-day Bob Dylan. We see the results of the many, many mistakes the White family makes over the course of The Wild and Wonderful Whites, but none is grosser than the ravaged, smoke-wrecked voices of the White women.
Which is a bit alarming, since this is a movie full of grossness: We also see the White women snorting rails of crushed-up OxyContin off the toilet in a bar; one of them kidnapping her ex-husband for sex after she is released from prison; another going on a bender of colossal proportions after she gives birth and the state (justly) takes away her baby. This is the same White family that brought into the world the vaguely famous hillbilly tap dancer Jesco White, about whom the documentary Dancing Outlaw was made in 1991 for PBS, and also about whom a fictionalized version of his bio was made into last year's White Lightnin'.
Jesco's here as well, and he's still a fascinating character—a gas-huffing, criminal redneck—but this is a movie about the other members of the White family, and it's shocking in the way that Vice magazine or Jackass is shocking—which stands to reason, since Johnny Knoxville is one of the film's producers. There's a sense of cultural voyeurism for its own sake, of looking down and laughing at the weirdness and fucked-up-ness of these backwoods buffoons who can scarcely hold control over their own lives. If that sounds hilarious to you, then you probably watch a lot of reality TV, and you'll probably like The Wild and Wonderful Whites of West Virginia.
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