|Here's a film with a classic Robbins Recipe. If
you're a movie buff, you know what I mean. The Tim Robbins character in
The Player was a studio exec with the knack to describe any movie pitch
in a pithy reference to previous movies. A hopeful scriptwriter would
pitch him an idea and he'd say something like, "So, it's kind of a
Saving Private Ryan meets Manos?" The Robbins Recipe for Coyote Ugly
is "Cocktail meets Flashdance, with just a dash of Little Voice."
I got too complex
with that Robbins Recipe. James Berardinelli wrote
more succinctly, "It's Showgirls without the nudity."
... and the depth!
A sweet little Middle-America tootsie with a perpetually
bewildered expression goes
to New York City to become a famous songwriter in the general
style of Carole King. She has no agent, no contacts, and no idea how one
becomes a songwriter. She finds out that the only hope
for her is to sing her own songs at open mike nights, but
she can't do that because she has a bad case of stage fright. She is desperate,
doesn't know where to turn, is living without hope or
income in a seedy cold water flat. She takes a job at one
of those show bars where the bottle-spinning bartenders
also dance on the tables. Her conservative father walks into the bar,
sees her wearing a t-shirt while horny drunks pour water
quiz. How does it end?
One of the following:
- She uses her meager
bartender earnings to buy dope. Her dad commits
suicide when he leaves the bar. When she hears
about her father, she O.D's, and the police find
her in the gutter in the rain, her hands
clutching the only demo tape of her songs. The
police don't know who she is, and her toe tag
reads, "Jane Doe". The camera pulls
back to show the squalor of lower Manhattan. The
- She is forced to
return to Upper Lower Amboy, New Jersey,
where she works as a waitress, gets married, has
a couple kids, takes a few junior college
classes, sews her own clothes, and is really
popular on Karaoke night in the local bowling
alley lounge. Sometimes she writes and sings
songs at the local elementary school on Earth
Day, and she sings at all her family weddings
- She becomes a
popular bartender, overcomes her stage fright by
singing along with the juke box in the show bar,
gets a new hairstyle and wardrobe, cleans up as a
flat-out fox, gets some gigs, finds the perfect
hunky boyfriend, wins her dad's forgiveness, and is a massive hit in her stage debut
her loved ones show her all their love during her
which do you think it was?
reviewer for salon.com wrote that the Coyote Ugly bar
"is like a Disney World redneck bar, akin to those
European locales at Epcot that have been re-created so
one doesn't have to deal with actual foreigners",
with their B.O., and their cigarettes, and their endless
pinching of your wife or daughter.
are many things that make a movie "bad", and Coyote Ugly isn't totally awful,
no matter how much I may have despised it. It isn't
unremittingly boring like I Dreamed of Africa
or unforgivably ego-laden, like Battlefield Earth. It has some charm from John
Goodman, a few good moments, and a hip and glossy look. It is (barely)
watchable. But the script is one of the worst ever written.
As Movie Juice declared, this film is
"dumber than a doorknob." Take the pure stupidity of
The Skulls, and mesh it with the maudlin cliché level of
Autumn in New York, and you can estimate the general
you like the song "I Will Survive"?
Here's your movie.
good are the songs that the star sings and writes? Imagine
Debby Boone singing "You Light Up My
Life." Then subtract all of Debby's get-down
soul, world-weary blues, and hard-drivin' funk
shallow, insubstantial bartenders make fun of the
shallow, insubstantial nature of Playmates. They
have a game where they try to guess the
Playmate's favorite movies. ("Saving Private
Ryan" is a winner.) We all know that bar-dancing bartenders
are so much deeper than Playmates. Here's a tip to the screenwriter.
All of those Playmates are brainier, deeper, and more sincere than
- The bar packs in
people tighter than sardines, and they
occasionally pour booze on the bar and set it on
fire to accentuate their dance routines. Luckily,
the fire marshal is around, and imposes a stern
glance and a $250 fine for their hijinks!
- The tough-talkin'
but soft-hearted owner of the bar has long since
forgotten what it was like when she was growing up in Piedmont, North Dakota.
In fact, she's forgotten that Piedmont is in South
final line in the film is, "What do you do
when you realize all your dreams have come
little tootsie's best friend in Jersey looks just
like Monica Lewinsky, and the actress' real name
is "Lynskey" - hmmmm .....
title, if you don't know, comes from the tendency
of coyotes to chew off their legs in order to
free themselves from a trap. If a man wakes up with a
"coyote ugly" woman sleeping on his arm, he will chew
it off rather than wake her up.
- I thought Dish Dogs would win the Year 2000
award for best fat guy cheesecake, with Brian Dennehy in a
skin-tight wet suit, but that was easily eclipsed by John Goodman
dancing on a bar and dropping his pants.
- Here's another
example of the lack of reality in today's cinema. John
Goodman was hit by a car. He was hurt, and the
car was OK.