a pro script reader ponders movies, reading, writing and the occasional personal flashback

Thursday, July 12, 2007


So I watched Showgirls again last night, as part of my DVD reviewing gig. And... wow.

It's just as bad as I remembered it. Worse.

It sort of transcends moviegoing, succeeding as entertainment on a level it was never intended to be -- call it train wreck filmmaking.

Hundreds of talented professionals, all working in the service of something that barely makes minimal sense, even on its own level.

Among the major transgressions here --

-- Since the main character is supposed to be a dancer, you would have thought they would cast a dancer who who act a little, or an actress who can dance a little. Instead, they cast Elizabeth Berkley, who can do neither.

-- Inexplicably, everyone who sees Elizabeth Berkley's character Nomi immediately falls in love with her, as well as believing that she is a great dancer, despite the fact that none of this comes across on the screen.

-- Though there is copious nudity, little of it is even mildly titillating. The sex scenes are laughable (particularly the one in the pool). And Elizabeth Berkley has a very unattractive ass, and they keep showing it.

-- Nomi's greatest dream seems to be appearing in the cheesiest topless Las Vegas revue ever, where everyone seems obsessed with the idea that the dance moves must be perfect, even though clearly no one in the audience cares.

-- It is 131 minutes long.

The fact that everyone involved (particularly director Paul Verhoeven) took the material so seriously just helps up the camp value. Thank goodness for Gina Gershon, who is the only one who seems to get the joke.

And apparently Joe Eszterhas got paid $2 million for the script...


At 10:48 AM, Blogger Brett said...

Eszterhas is a genius.

That he made a career -- a lucrative one at that -- of selling the sort of stuff most of us would be too ashamed to even share much less submit professionally...

Eszterhas is a genius.

As for Elizabeth Berkeley, it's always comforting to see that her career since SHOWGIRLS has demonstrated just how aberrant her performance there truly was.

I think if you can somehow achieve that perfect balance between snow-blind drunk and absolute inebriated unconsciousness, then SHOWGIRLS might well rank among the funniest movies ever made, but that seems approximately as easy as flipping a coin and having it land balanced on one edge.

While standing on the surface of a black hole.


At 10:59 AM, Blogger E.C. Henry said...

Funny post, Scott

"It's just as bad as I remembered it. Worse."

Classic. Haven't seen "Showgirls" but I know its been bashed ruthlessly since it came out.

I'm very intreaged to learn more about who Joe Joe Eszterhas is. Have you read the book he recently put out? Its title is something like, "The Screenwriter as God."

- E.C. Henry from Bonney Lake, WA

At 1:34 PM, Blogger Dante Kleinberg said...

Without looking it up in IMDB, I don't remember what year Showgirls came out, but I know I must've been under 17 because I had to buy a ticket for To Wong Foo Thanks For Everything Julie Newmar and sneak in.

My friend and I went to see it at the Beverly Center. Unfortunately To Wong Foo was the first theater right behind the ticket guy, making the hop a difficult one. I went to the bathroom as a misdirect, then to Showgirls right after, while my friend ended up seeing To Wong Foo in its entirety (chicken! I teased him later).

Even as a horny underage boy I thought it was a terrible movie. The audience, mostly thirtysomething couples (and the theater was PACKED) laughed out loud during the pool scene. I don't know how long To Wong Foo was, but after Showgirls ended, it was still going on so I met my friend in that theater. He looked bored but stayed for the end.

My generation watched a lot of Saved by the Bell so that was weird too. Jesse the ultra-feminist stripping! Craziness! And why couldn't it have been Kelly?

At 5:32 PM, Blogger Brett said...

The new Eszterhas book is a riot-- I've readit twice cover to cover and will likely read it again this week while on vacation. Yeah, he's an arrogant prick, yet somehow he makes it clear that he was aware of it and enjoying the ride to hell the whole time, so it winds up being somehow charming.

Or not-- your mileague might well vary.

Me, I laughed and laughed.

At 7:12 PM, Anonymous steverino said...

Showgirls is Gulliver's Travels for the 90's.

I once brought up the subject of Showgirls on Wordplayer and Terry Rossio said that Verhoeven has contempt for the audience. He didn't say that this contempt was a bad thing because Verhoeven dares you not to get that the joke's on you (like a comic who insults the audience, say, Andy Kaufman). That was a pretty astute comment. Verhoeven believes that humans are basically evil.

The problem is that this mode tends to backfire. The cynical wit worked well in Robocop, Basic Instinct, and even Total Recall. But it was too manipulative and shallow in Showgirls and Starship Troopers (two very similar movies).

But Showgirls is a bad movie for its own sake. It conciously takes a swipe at social mores because it refuses to center the most important event: rape. Lesbianism, interracial sex, and rape are portrayed as jokes. Thumbing his nose at the audience, Verhoeven asks you, this what you wanted to see, right?

So bad that it's entertaining, and so bad it deconstructs itself. The most fascinating aspect for me is how each scene starts out normally but then degenerates into a miasma. Every scene is sabotaged. Every scene is set up only to devolve into nonsense. The pay off is always the same; our heroine gets fucked over, and unless you watch too much soap opera, you know she deserves it. It's a mind fuck from start to finish.

The images and lines are hilarious.

Sometimes, you just gotta lick the pole!


Q: "How'd you like a knuckle sandwich?"
A: "I'll take mine anally, please."

At 9:05 PM, Blogger Patrick J. Rodio said...

Yeah, it's a ridiculous waste of time.

Especially after the 3rd viewing.

At 9:17 PM, Blogger mernitman said...

First Jackass 2. Then Showgirls.
I'm looking forward to your post on Howard the Duck.

At 11:53 PM, Blogger T.O. WRITRESS said...

To those of you who watched it more than once, you're braver than I am.

Perhaps 'brave' is the wrong word... ;)

At 9:26 AM, Blogger Christian M. Howell said...

You mean a woman splashing up against a gy in a pool isn' good cinema. Crap. That's a script down the drain. Just kidding.
That was a really bad movie.
It seemed like a PSA for dizzy chicks and the men who abuse them.

It's not really clear in my mind but I guess that's a good thing.

And to the Howard the Duck poster, wow. I had those images out of my mind.

At 10:35 AM, Blogger Scott the Reader said...

I saw Howard the Duck in theaters, and it wasn't THAT bad.

Though it wasn't good.

At 2:13 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Elizabeth Berkley was pretty good in Roger Dodger. So there.


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