Coyote Ugly is a rowdy romantic comedy starring Piper Perabo as Violet, a na´ve New Jersey girl who moves to New York City and struggles for over three long-legged months as a dirty-dancing barmaid before overcoming her stage fright, finding true love and making it big as a singer/songwriter. So much for the plot. Anyone who has seen the ad knows, the only real reason to see this movie is to ogle the curvaceous cuties cavorting atop the bar where Violet and her vixen-like coworkers strut their collective stuff like oversexed Spice Girls in cowboy hats and sequined belly shirts. Maria Bello and Bridget Moynahan were my favorite of the Coyote cubs though they all easily put the "ho" in hoedown.
The movie is ever so loosely based on a 1993 story in GQ magazine by Elizabeth Gilbert about her wasted days and nights behind and atop the real life bar for which Coyote Ugly is named. The picture's principle set, however, looks like it was built straight from the blueprint of Hogs & Heifers, another NYC redneck bar of infamous repute, complete with bras dangling from the rafters and a bald biker bouncer overseeing the seedy proceedings. In a recent Time Out New York article, Hogs owner Michelle Dell complained that the movie goes too far in its depiction of the Ugly girls' routines. "I would never have women get on my bar and walk around with wet T-shirts and hard nipples." Methinks Michelle's just upset that a whole new crop of cash is going to be baling into Coyote Ugly's coffers and not Hogs & Heifers. Moo!
Meanwhile, back at the movies, life at Coyote Ugly is like an endless Nashville Pussy concert with fire-breathing barmaids pouring endless rounds of bourbon, scotch and beer on their customers and each other to the battle cry of "Hell No, H2O!" Though the real-deal barmaids at these saucy saloons are rougher around the rims and not nearly as well choreographed as the supermodel types portrayed in the movie, Tyra, Maria and their feline friends still do their best to be as bad as they can and honor the hell-raising habits of this divine breed of broad.
Coyote Ugly's soundtrack, however, doesn't come close to replicating the honky-tonk tradition of the real raunchy roadhouses where both kinds of music, country AND western, are blared at eardrum busting volume. Producer Jerry Buckheimer probably feared the movie's target audience of underage kids, who don't look 17 and whose parents don't have the Playboy channel, would stay away en mass if the Coyote babes were to shake their honey makers to genuine hillbilly heroes like Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson or Johnny Cash rather than the movie's more palatable play list of Def Leppard and Blondie. What the heck, why not put some Britney Spears on there too to really get the teens a screaming. A guest appearance by C&W princess LeAnn Rimes does make for a nice surprise at the end of the movie. Who knew LeAnn was old enough to go to bars, much less be dancing on one?
|LeAnn Rimes and Piper Perabo
Also along for the joyride is the always jovial John Goodman who plays Violet's widowed father, a toll booth collector on the New Jersey Turnpike. Goodman plays his part like a lost episode of the "Roseanne" series with Darlene flying the kooky coop against his fatherly wishes. He's concerned, disappointed, but eventually supportive. And since she comes home every Sunday to do his laundry, take out the KFC buckets and restock the Lean Cuisine supply, he knows Violet's stage-fright stricken heart still belongs to Daddy, even if the rest of her body is now branded "Property of Coyote Ugly." Actually, though there really aren't any branding scenes, one can still hope they're just being saved as bonus footage for the DVD edition.
The real problem with Coyote Ugly starts as soon as the action shifts from the bar to Violet's clueless search for success in the music business and her romance with pretty boy Adam Garcia, who's working the most annoying Australian accent since Robert Downey Jr. in Natural Born Killers. It's unbelievable that a person so dead set on success would have done so little homework about what it takes to "make it" in the business. Suddenly Violet goes from singing on her rooftop to effortlessly engineering her own CD, which immediately secures her a showcase slot at the hottest club in town, which, of course, is all she needs to land the big deal of her dreams. Unless your last name is Geffen or Motolla, it just ain't that easy.
Worse yet is the danger that impressionable "Alanis Morissette" types are going to see Coyote Ugly and think they can pack up their keyboards, move from Nebraska to New York and speed pour their way to fame and fortune before the first credit-card bill comes due. More likely, little Alanis will wind up dancing naked at a club in Queens with her only hits coming in twenty dollar bags, or worse yet, temping as an administrative assistant on Wall Street to a boiler-room full of Gordon Gecko wannabes. Not to rain on anyone's charade, but it usually takes about ten years to become an overnight sensation. And, sister, that's a lot of body shots.
So, as much fun as the bar action is, I can't really recommend Coyote Ugly, unless you aren't old enough to get into R-rated movies or need an appetizer for a triple feature of Showgirls and Strip Tease on your next bachelor Blockbuster night. Then in the comfort of your own corral, you can crank up some Hank Williams, do a few flaming shots, or take a bathroom break during any scene that doesn't take place in the club.
Finally, for those not in the know, "Coyote Ugly" is the expression for waking up after a one-night stand with someone so nasty sleeping on your arm that you'd rather chew it off, like a coyote gnawing its own leg off to escape a trap, than risk waking the beauty-turned-beast beside you. Not that I've experienced this personally, of course. At least not since I stopped drinking Southern Comfort.
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