Coyote Ugly

dir David McNally scr Gina Wendkos
with Piper Perabo, Adam Garcia, John Goodman, Maria Bello, Melanie Lynskey, Tyra Banks, Izabella Miko, Bridget Moynahan, Del Pentecost, Michael Weston, Bud Cort, Leann Rimes
Touchstone 00/US 1 out of 5 stars

Review by Rich Cline
Jerry Bruckheimer, ever the highbrow film producer, takes a break from explosion-intensive action films to make a titillating girlie drama featuring lots of scantily glad women. Coyote Ugly tries desperately to convince us that there's more to it than that, but when it cuts to the next "accidental" glimpse of a girl in a G-string buttoning up her jeans, we know what the filmmakers are really after.

There are some meaty storylines lurking inside, trying to fool us into taking the film seriously. Violet (Perabo) leaves home in New Jersey to make it in New York as a songwriter. Her widowed dad (Goodman) is naturally worried. But we know Violet is a good songwriter because she's naive, gorgeous and she practices her songs on the rooftop of her dingy apartment building. She also befriends a quirky Australian cook (Garcia) before getting a job at a bar called Coyote Ugly (don't ask), a kind of downmarket Hooters where the barmaids wear very little, dance on the bar and spray the customers with beer. Classy joint. No wonder Dad's worried. But the real question is whether Violet will overcome her debilitating stagefright to get her career off the ground.

That Hollywood continually pumps millions of dollars into these thinly plotted, atrociously conceived projects is a crime. This is a very slickly produced film, embarrassingly easy to watch. The acting isn't bad (Perabo looks startlingly like Julia Roberts), and there's a lot of energy in the whole thing. Goodman even gets a few good lines. But overall the film is so pre-packaged, contrived and manipulative that it's frightening. You can see the germ of a good idea in Wendkos' script, but once Bruckheimer got his paws on it, how could anything even remotely believable or interesting survive? The word gratuitous comes to mind for lots of reasons.

[12--themes, language, innuendo] 14.Aug.00
US release 4.Aug.00; UK release 20.Oct.00

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"So, Coyote Ugly - an interesting name that, apart from the Hollywood preened girls on the posters, is guaranteed to provoke filmgoers' interest. But once we've got past the title and are sitting in our comfy cinema chairs we can get down to the nitty gritty life of Violet Sanderson (Perabo) and her quest to fulfil her dream. I could go on forever here but, in short, the film is good, it's not half bad. True it's oh so American teen drama, but it works perhaps only for Perabo's acting and the potentially 'I wish I was that girl' story line. Go see it, you'll come out a little happier and, by the way, itching to part with your cash to buy the soundtrack!" --A Sinclair Millar, UK.

"It is brilliant; really enjoyed it so much I went back the following night. The soundtrack is also brill. Go and watch the film to brighten your life up." --OdnnllE, net.

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2000 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall