Written by / 12/26/2014 / No comments / , , , , ,

SHOWGIRLS IS THE GODFATHER COMPARED TO 'STRIPTEASE'

year: 1996 rating: *
"It will never happen again” is the last line in STRIPTEASE, a flimsy exploitation with a single promise – to feature the world’s then top actress a topless scene and beyond, with a record breaking payday attached… And Demi Moore’s character was right... No one asked for a sequel.

Making SHOWGIRLS seem like PULP FICTION, with so many flaws it’s difficult to know where to begin… So how about the beginning: Perhaps one of the worst pre opening credit sequences of all time, beating out Wilfred Brimley appearing on his grandson’s television set in COCOON 2...

In STRIPTEASE we kickstart inside a courtroom where Demi Moore’s single mom Erin Grant tells the judge everything we need to know, a case of exposition dialogue gone haywire: Her cheating loser husband got her fired as an FBI secretary, and she lost custody of her daughter... And following the credits we cut directly to our heroine stripping at a high-end dance club – no setup, no progression, nothing… Just the matter at hand, and what half the audience paid to see. 

Squirty Dancing
In the flesh, Demi looks fantastic, a bronze goddess making up for what was hardly distinguishable in BLAME IT ON RIO years earlier… Her strobe-lit numbers are reminiscent of FLASHDANCE choreography: Erin is not only head over heels above the other strippers, she's sought out by a Right Wing politician who loves naked ladies and Family Values, and could be involved with murder...

Burt gone bad
Burt Reynolds, as Congressman David Dilbeck, trying for a comeback that he’d garner in his Oscar nominated BOOGIE NIGHTS performance a year later, plays someone so clownish he needed only makeup and a honking nose. Which would have made him a lot funnier. Attempting to do what a Charles Durning type character actor would pull off without going overboard, Burt fails at every possible turn.

And another wasted player plays it the most mellow and subtle, and still bombs out, in Ving Rhames as Shad, the dance club’s heart of gold bouncer who is a tough, awkward oddball – these same traits summing up the entire viewing experience: In attempting a commercialized mainstream setting within a risque subject, no genre benefits: STRIPTEASE is never quite sure to be a working class dramedy, a lightweight crime thriller, a political satire, a modern exploitation or romantic comedy...

Rena Riffel in this and SHOWGIRLS
Enter investigating cop Armand Assante who, being a faithful husband, doesn't amount to a possible or even peripheral love interest while Demi Moore is simply collecting that paycheck, having zero chemistry with her main motivation serving as the plot's McGuffin: real life daughter Rumor Willis, with a one-note expression throughout, is excruciatingly out of place.

Yet the grand prize for worst performance goes to another capable actor who, like Burt and everyone else, should have known and acted better: TERMINATOR 2 arch villain Robert Patrick, as Erin’s no-good white trash husband seeming part of a Happy Madison vehicle, takes the cake and eats it too. And you'll hear a lot about how awful SHOWGIRLS is. That's because it's unintentionally hilarious, timeless and memorable, and wonderfully classic, campy and perfect. But this uneven catastrophe, providing torture without tickles, has no camp value whatsoever. And any bad movie lacking cult status is a forgotten footnote in cinematic purgatory: a suitable place for STRIPTEASE to reside. 
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