A and A's Movie A Day

Watching movies until we run out.

Showgirls

June 3, 2010

Showgirls

I’ll admit that I’ve never seen this movie. I bought it for the project because it was so infamously bad. Sort of like a dare. And ever since I’ve been looking forward to watching it and kind of dreading watching it at the same time. Today we are continuing our attempt to do movies on Thursdays that are related to So You Think You Can Dance and that gives us an excuse to watch this famously awful film because Tyce Diorio is in it. (It’s hilarious! You simply have to see the scene where he smoulderingly removes the lead character’s clothes during a dance number. We couldn’t stop laughing.)

I had the notion going into this that I’d do some kind of “boobie count” and see just how many girls get their tops off. You know, to help pass the time. Unfortunately I grossly underestimated the extent to which this film overdoes the toplessness. Hmm. Maybe I should attempt to count the number of scenes where no actress reveals her nipples. So far I’ve counted six. Who’d have ever thought that a movie about exploitation of girls could actually desensitize you towards naked breasts? Actually, I’m beginning to prefer the scenes when the actresses aren’t fully clothed because when they’re fully dressed they have to wrap their mouths around the preposterous dialog.

I really can’t figure this movie out. I think it’s supposed to be the tale of the rise and fall of an innocent young girl who goes to Las Vegas to become a dancer, but who steadfastly refuses to compromise her morals. Except that she proceeds to compromise whatever morals she might possibly have at every opportunity. She refuses to sleep around to advance her career, but sleeps with the producer of her show. It’s very difficult to figure out what it is that Nomi actually wants. I can’t entirely blame Elizabeth Berkley – she has some almost comical performance choices (particularly at the start of the movie when she’s supposed to be upset and destitute) but the part as written is a complete mess as well.

In one of the sort of typical-for-this-movie scenes Nomi goes to an audition where the director – a self professed prick – demands that the girls take their tops off. Which seems perfectly reasonable for an audition for a topless cabaret act. But the girls all hesitate. Which is odd because Nomi was recruited from a topless bar – so why does she suddenly turn all shy for that scene? Aargh! My head! It hurts! Ten seconds later she’s back to taking her top off for no reason at every opportunity and has implausibly raucous sex with the show’s producer. Not because she wants to advance in her career (or so she repeatedly claims afterwards) but not because she wants to be with him either (because she seems to hold him in disdain right up until the moment that she spontaneously invites herself over to his place.) She has no clear motivation for anything she does in the whole movie – she just kind of bops around flailing her tits in the air and destroying the lives of everybody she comes into contact with.

Seriously – every single character in the movie is worse off for having met her. How does that make for a compelling heroine? Do people WANT to see the story of a wishy-washy bimbo who flaunts her body, claims to have some moral high ground, and stands idly by while everybody who seems to help her or care for her has their life go to hell?

I suppose I shouldn’t expect any kind of sense out of the movie. It’s a big exploitative mess. But I feel let down that in the end I have no more idea what’s going on than I did at the start. I should have just relaxed and enjoyed all the breasts, but like I said there’s kind of overkill on that level too. So what do you call a movie that’s too big-budget and glitzy to be pure porn, too poorly written to work as as serious film, and doesn’t even really work as camp?

On a kind of meta level I have to wonder how awful it was making this movie. I got to thinking about half way through the film about what the auditions for the part of Nomi must have been, and could they have been as awful as the audition that Nomi goes to when she’s trying to get into the show at the Stardust. I get the impression that the sleaze we see on the screen is only a cleaned up and slightly toned down version of the true sleaze behind the scenes, which makes me feel kind of slimy for watching the finished product.

I don’t want to say that this movie is truly irredeemable. It’s gotten so much bad press that I feel like I’m beating up on an easy target if I do. It’s got some pretty high production values and clearly involved a lot of effort – I just can’t figure out what it is. It’s like it came into this universe from someplace slightly alien. It tries at times to be camp (like when Nomi’s old boss Al from the strip join she used to work at visits her once her career is off the ground. He seems genuinely befuddled that she wouldn’t want to be back at the strip joint giving lap dances to slimy clients. And the scene implies that there’s some nostalgia for her there as well.) It tries to be pure sleaze (like pretty much every dance number and strip routine.) It tries to have some dramatic message about how we can become everything we most despise. It has two or three failed romantic sub-plots (because everybody who meets Nomi either loves her or wants her – in spite of the fact that in at least one case she blatantly kicks a suitor in the balls.) It has a strange revenge fueled action scene.

I’m not going to give it the “it stinks” tag in my review because I have the feeling that in some strange way it doesn’t. It’s almost as though there’s a decent movie buried in all this fail which I’m just too thick to pick up on. I know I certainly feel dumber for having watched it.

June 3, 2010 - Posted by | daily reviews | , ,

2 Comments »

  1. This is actually on my top ten worst movies of all time list. It was just so unbelievably terrible. I really don’t think it’s a matter of not getting it; it’s just that bad. 🙂

    Comment by Trisha | June 3, 2010 | Reply

    • Heh. Yeah it really is pretty unbelievably bad. One has to wonder how it got made and released. Didn’t somebody realize what was going on?

      Comment by tanatoes | June 4, 2010 | Reply


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