Monday, November 09, 2009

Coyote So Ugly

I love watching movies in appropriate locales. I saw Rudy in South Bend, Ocean's Eleven in Vegas. Last month I watched Coyote Ugly in New Jersey. It was perfect. Perfectly bad!

I think Coyote Ugly might be one of the more underratedly (bad) bad movies out there (striking a rhetorical pose to just get to the next idea here). I love to watch it. It's not a what-the-fuck-are-they-doing fun/bad movie like Showgirls in which people make baffling decisions in every possible scenario, it's a Frankenstein of a movie that sews together clichés wholesale, every stitch glaring at you. It is aggressively derivative. The padding in the movie--the batting that fills it out--is what we woulda called Jiggle, back in the Aaron Spelling days. Endless freakin jiggle atop the bar, only it's really more like Gyrate. Many many many bellybuttons.

You get a lot of Flashdance in Coyote Ugly--motherless workin girl finding artistic success you just know she deserves (esp. at age 21), while working a job that allows us to ogle her for 100 minutes and vindicate the impropriety of watching her along with the movie's characters as they justify her (temporary) involvement in a basically salacious activity to reach her goals. (The movie is very Flashdance, down to all the fog and mists--there is even a scene in which the main character, Violet, swipes some hiphop for her musical compositions, à la Jennifer Beals swiping breakdancing moves for her big finale.) You get a lot of Cocktail, including bottle-flipping. You get a lot of Working Girl--outer borough girl making it in Manhattan.

You get a lot of cinematic archetypes--such as the Slightly Dykey Den Mother, with Maria Bello as the bar owner who is so relentlessly worldly wise and tough--with one episode of vulnerability that proves it--that it starts to seem like she's just trying to get through the movie as fast as she can (probably true). You get the gaggle of fellow Whatevers--dancer/bartenders, in this case--who are more outrageous/sexual/practiced than our protagonist, so she doesn't have to be, and the gaggle of hometown friends who are more working class with thicker accents, so she doesn't have to be. You get the struggling overeating working class single dad (John Goodman) who has his coworkers make a public gesture of good luck for his daughter. You even get a very weird final scene in which a male character engages in the salacious girl activity in question, turning it on its head, like Jan Wenner aerobicizing at the end of Perfect--in this case, Goodman jokingly being an outrageous Coyote Ugly bartenderess and dancing on the bartop.

Watching the movie is like watching a brazen shoplifter, your mouth open at what they'll steal next. The movie mostly steals Flashdance, though, down to a fundamental assurance that no woman is taken advantage of by the gyrating (the official summary describes them as "sexy, resourceful women"). Also in the ending, which tells us she's Made It, in this case by having Leann Rimes sing the shitty songs Violet writes. She wins, she wins. Elizabeth Gilbert must be proud.


Anonymous said...

OMG haterzorzzzz!

p.s. what, no mention of the poor Aussie dishwasher who has a car in Manhattan?

Elizabeth M. Tamny said...

Agreed, that's a nicely insane touch too. Even with the fake car boot trick!

Elizabeth M. Tamny said...

The car feels like more movie-cliches-at-all-costs; when he showed up I remember thinking: really? They are that committed to scenes of romance between youngsters with a car as background? Even when it's almost impossible?

Anonymous said...

Hey, you can't denigrate that film too much, it was my introduction to the incomparable Bridget Moynahan. Hubba hubba!

Elizabeth M. Tamny said...

oh david

Elizabeth M. Tamny said...

p.s. David, it's your Scrabble turn!