In 1992, Bobcat Goldthwait made his first movie, Shakes the Clown, doing for clowns what Bad Santa would later do for department store St. Nicks. So it's not surprising that his 2006 follow-up, Sleeping Dogs Lie, was also marketed as an outrageous assault on good taste. After all, its central character fellates a dog less than two minutes into the movie -- quite tastefully, as it turns out. But Goldthwait's got a lot more on his mind than Tom Green-style gross-outs. In fact, it could be argued that comedy isn't even the most appropriate genre for Sleeping Dogs Lie, so genuine are its attempts to understand the consequences -- both real and perceived -- of an impulsive act of bestiality. In spite of the taboo subject matter, this is a sensitive, mature study of a girl-next-door school teacher (Melinda Page Hamilton) and her complicated family and romantic ties. That's not to say Goldthwait's high-decibel quirkiness makes no appearance -- Amy's over-the-top brother (Jack Plotnick), a paint huffer and meth user, seems like a stand-in for the director. And there's plenty of laughter built into the awkwardness of the scenario, which tests the principles of even the most open-minded individuals. But counterbalancing that humor is surprisingly subtle work from Geoff Pierson, the dad from the dismal WB sitcom Unhappily Ever After (in which Goldthwait also appeared), who makes Amy's disapproving father more than just a caricature. The real find here is Hamilton, who undoubtedly took a leap of faith on the script, never guessing that it might allow her to truly shine. If there's anything shocking about Sleeping Dogs Lie, it's Goldthwait's message, which defies Hollywood's usual tendency to prize the truth above all else. Sometimes, especially in affairs of the heart, selective dishonesty is the best policy.