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Coyote Ugly

movie review out of 4 Movie Review: Coyote Ugly

Starring: Piper Perabo, Maria Bello
Director: David McNally
Rated: PG-13
RunTime: 110 Minutes
Release Date: August 2000
Genres: Comedy, Drama

*Also starring: Tyra Banks, Bridget Moynahan, Izabella Miko, Adam Garcia, John Goodman, Melanie Lynskey, Adam Alexi-Malle

Review by Steve Rhodes
1½ stars out of 4

SHOWGIRLS but with clothes!

COYOTE UGLY is a romantic comedy produced by Jerry Bruckheimer. Enough said?

The film is one long sexual tease that flaunts the MPAA rules. SHOWGIRLS was NC-17, but COYOTE UGLY comes in at just PG-13 since the women keep their skimpy clothes on. This means that lots of preteens will discover wet T-shirts and provocative dances, maybe inspiring some to grow up and become exotic dancers. The picture is directed by David McNally, whose previous work was herding lobsters who were advertising beer in the most popular commercial at the 1999 Super Bowl.

Okay, let's put the rating argument aside for the moment.

The film, which is so noisy that you may need earplugs, nominally concerns an aspiring song writer, Violet Sanford (Piper Perabo, last seen as FBI agent Karen Sympathy in THE ADVENTURES OF ROCKY AND BULLWINKLE). Violet leaves her widower father, Bill (John Goodman), to travel the 42 miles from her home in New Jersey to a cliché of a flea-bit room in New York City. "I put pepper spray in your purse," he tells her. "Even if you're not sure, start spraying."

Needing money, she becomes a "coyote." Coyotes are women too wild to work at Hooters. Coyotes spend their time dancing on the top of the bar at a place called Coyote Ugly (don't ask), which is run by a tough-as-nails blonde named Lil (Maria Bello from PAYBACK). Other coyotes include Cammie (Izabella Miko) and Rachel (Bridget Moynahan).

Violet, whom they nickname Jersey, takes the place of Zoe (Tyra Banks), who is leaving a life of shaking her booty in order to go to law school. Gina Wendkos's script is full of such gems. Another is that Violet can only sing when no one is there or when the lights are out. Guess what will happen during her big stage fright scene?

The bar is always a mob scene. The women spray the crowd with water hoses to rile them up. And they spray each other to get the men hot again. They even set fire to the bar to liven up the place even more. Generally, however, they dance as seductively as possible in cheesy, little outfits. They should have premiered the movie at Hugh Hefner's Playboy mansion. (The movie's only sex scene starts besides a cord board cutout of President Clinton.)

Lil hires Violet solely because Violet looks like a kindergarten teacher, which she is sure will make the men horny. (Following the movie's sexual tease theme, Lil tells Violet her main rule for her workers is, "You are to appear to be available but never be available.") Introducing her to the salivating males, Lil says that Violet is not only a kindergarten teacher, but an ex-nun as well, "who's tired of being the only virgin in New York City." Lil likes to make her announcements at the bar using a bullhorn.

While not cavorting on the bar with her coworkers, Violet is involved in a romantic liaison with an Australian named Kevin (Adam Garcia). This whole subplot is a throwaway designed to kill time between the erotic dance numbers. The lovers never take their clothes off so that the movie can keep its coveted PG-13 rating. They wrap themselves in sheets after sex so that we won't be shocked. This is pretty insulting to the audience's intelligence since the bar scenes push limits left and right.

The thin plot, which makes soap operas seem profound in comparison, has an utterly predictable conclusion. It's really just a music video brought to the big screen in order to rake in the big bucks. For adults desperately searching for any guilty pleasure they can find, this may be the movie for them.

COYOTE UGLY runs 1:35. Officially it is rated PG-13 for sensuality. It would be acceptable for older teenagers. (Together with NUTTY PROFESSOR II, also rated PG-13, these two films in current release make a mockery of the PG-13 rating.)

Copyright © 2000 Steve Rhodes

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