In 1995, a little movie called ‘Showgirls’ made it’s debut. I saw the commercials, I recognized the pretty blond from ‘Saved by the Bell’ ( a cheesy pre-teen t.v. comedy from 1989), and then ………a bomb went off. I can still feel the vibration of the walls and floors as EVERY “respectable” film critic, from the East coast to the West coast slammed this film. Slammed is putting it mildly, more like pummeled it into oblivion…..then they got mean! I had not gone out to see this film right away because of the backlash, but caught it on cable a few years after it’s release, and thought to myself “Hmm….not so bad, I even liked it.” Then I thought ‘Does this mean there’s something wrong with me? Do I suck at picking movies? Due to the nature of the film, am I a lesbian?!’. Not to panic, the answer is none of the above, well at least for the last question. The truth was, I was afraid to tell anyone I liked this film because everyone was having fun jumping on the bandwagon to say “Yeah, this movie sucked!”. Never was one for “bandwagon jumping”, and I never will be. I caught ‘Showgirls’ again on cable recently………and I still like it. Here’s my review.
The movie ‘Showgirls’ (1995) was written by Joe Eszterhas (‘Basic Instinct’, ‘Flashdance’), and directed by Paul Verhoeven (‘Starship Troopers’, ‘Basic Instinct’). The movie stars Elizabeth Berkley (Nomi Malone), Kyle MacLachlan (Zack Carey), Gina Gershon (Cristal Conners), Glenn Plummer (James Smith), and Gina Ravera (Molly Abrams). The movie centers around Nomi (Berkley), who is just trying to get to Las Vegas, and become a dancer. The road there is tough, but Nomi rises to the occasion, and manages to make a couple friends along the way (Plummer and Ravera). During the film we get the impression that Nomi has had a rough past, and doesn’t exactly like to talk about it, she has “issues”. By not beating us over the head with details, we are kind of left to wonder, and make up our own little scenarios. Despite her issues, Nomi proves to be a hard working, talented dancer, and dedicated friend. I enjoyed watching the dark, and sweet side to Nomi. Not everyone will admit to it, or even want to think it’s possible, but we all have a dark side.
Nomi has many challenges, but makes it into a bigger better show. One little problem …..okay one enormous problem, rival showgirl Cristal Connors (Gershon). Meow !!! And que the cat claws ! Oh yeah, it’s bad enough when you are beautiful and hated among average female co-workers in say an office type of setting. Now, put fifty beautiful women in sparkly outfits, heels and make-up, in the same dressing area together, and what do you think is going to happen? Exactly! Let’s just say all those who meet with certain fates, had it coming (ethical or not). The ample amount of nudity and sex has caused many to label this film ‘soft porn’ , but it couldn’t be, because real ‘soft porn’ always puts me to sleep before the woman starts groaning (even though his thing is not close enough to her thing).
Maybe some of the dialogue is lacking something special, but there is originality in the storyline. The performances are solid, and believable. I distinctly remember Elizabeth Berkley’s character on the 80’s t.v. show ‘Saved by the Bell’, ‘Jessie’ was studious, by-the-book, and kind of a prude. When I seen Berkley in the commercials for this film, I was just impressed with that, because these two characters couldn’t be further away from each other. Having always enjoyed watching choreographed dancers, and admired the time and dedication (and sweat) put into making a show look good, I can tell this was real work. The dancing, costumes, and make up were all very well done.
Knowing I wanted to review this film, I looked into some information on writer Joe Eszterhas. Mr.Eszterhas has not had it so easy in Hollywood, being the straight forward, free thinking man he is, has been a detriment. A direct quote of Mr.Eszterhas from the IMDB website states “Screenwriters are supposed to be neither seen nor heard. I certainly violated that rule. Among others.” And although this same site reports that he has said some negative things about Quentin Tarantino (my favorite director), Tarantino still has gone on to praise Eszterhas and his film ‘Showgirls’. I have gone on a few other sites to glance at other reviews of this film, and came up with claims of this film as “cheap B-movie porno”, “tasteless,tawdry”, “plastic, awkward, mess” and “so bad,it’s fun”. I hope my fellow film buffs comment on my review, and if you really hate it, please be specific.