By Susannah Breslin | August 4, 2000

From the man who brought us Flashdance, so Jerry Bruckheimer as producer brings us Coyote Ugly. It’s a story about a bunch of hard-a*s girls working at a good-time bar in NYC. It’s a tale of one girl named Violet trying as hard as she can to make it to her dream of becoming a star. It’s about sexy clothes. It’s about writhing hair. It’s about lusty men. It’s about people who like to dance on top of bars. It’s about folks who fight the good fight even when the chips are walking right out the door. It also blows.
Before the opening credits are even done rolling out, Coyote Ugly establishes early on how bad it is as a bunch of Jersey girls miserably wail out karoake in a salute to the soon-to-be-departed-to-New York City Violet Sanford (Piper Perabo). Violet may be cute and blond and perky and in pursuit of her dreams of writing songs for brainless pop-stars, but the fact that her character is being portrayed by an actress who makes it clear from the beginning that she can’t act her way out of a paper bag cements the film in quicksand from its start. Coyote Ugly’s greatest dedication is not to its main character, but rather to looking like a beer commercial, pandering to Adam Carolla, and casting like a blind man.
When Violet finds herself in NYC living in a Chinatown dump and unable to land a record deal by simply showing up at the front-desk of record companies (is anyone really that stupid?), she ends up accepting a job as a bartender at a bar–called Coyote Ugly. The head ho’-in-charge is one ball-bustin’ Lil (Maria Bello), who right off helps out Violet by chopping of her T-shirt’s sleeves and midsection. Thanks, mom. Other bargirl peers include aspiring-lawyer-bartender Zoe (Tyra Banks), brunette bitch Rachel (Bridget Moynahan), and dingy blonde slut Cammie (Izabella Miko). The girls teach Violet pretty quick exactly how to juggle Jim Beam while doing some soft-shoe on a burning bartop.
But wait. What about Daddy? Part of why Violet’s off pursuing her dream anyway is because Mommy never pursued her dreams AND MOMMY DIED. Daddy Bill (John Goodman) is therefore left at home across bridge-and-tunnel eons, eating KFC and thinking Violet’s singing her way to sainthood. When Daddy finds out what Sweetie’s been up to, he’s not too happy. But luckily Violet’s able to be an oversexed bartender and get over her stage-fright with the help of karaoke at the same time, so she can really get a chance at doing what Mom didn’t get to do and have sex with a cute and loyal guy who’s also a chef named Kevin (Adam Garcia) at the same time.
It’s enough to break a barfly’s heart. Or kill off brain cells at the very least. Coyote Ugly’s low-brow level isn’t helped any by director David McNally, known primarily–and surely not coincidentally–for his pre-existing work in the beer-movie genre, a la Bud ads. Great. Miss Piper single-handedly destroys what could have been a competent little movie about chicks being naughty and getting ahead, but instead slays the world with her theatrical incompetency. Thanks Piper, by the way, for this summer’s other turd: The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle.
The biggest difference between this movie and Bruckheimer’s Flashdance is that, for however briefly she did so, Jennifer Beals can act. Next to Perabo, Bello and Banks actually stand out as decent, with Miko lagging inconsequentially behind and Moynahan not given enough lines by which to judge her. Writer Gina Wendkos would do well do listen in the future to the likes of the band of boys who sat behind me, initially excited about seeing what they called, “some f***in’ T&A!” Half way through, one of them was begging the others to leave. “Dis broad is f***in’ irritating!”, he was pleading. ‘Nuff said.

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