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Read between the lines!
candigrrl14 November 2001
I read through a few of these reviews and the general analysis seemed to be that this movie sucks more than the lead character does in the back room of the Cheetah Club. Well, I guess if you take it at face value, it does.

However, it's not meant to be taken that way (internally, with a glass of water?), and it's a shame that so many people did. Really, 'Showgirls' is a campy, funny movie. It's a riot. And it's supposed to be.

Elizabeth Berkley, in the lead role, plays her part like an actress on one of those day-time soaps - which is probably exactly what Verhoeven wanted. She does everything dramatically. She sits down, dramatically; she takes off her jacket, dramatically; and if you watch closely enough you'll even see her eating fries dramatically.

Gina Gershon as femme fatale/lead dancer Cristal gives the best performance of the film. She obviously is in sync with the director and has a lot of fun with the part, and if you only watch it for one reason, watch it for her. Because, in the words of L'Oreal, she's worth it. She's a great talent and it's a shame she's not recognised more widely.

Would I recommend it? I don't know. It depends on your taste. If you're looking for a drama, go elsewhere. If you're looking for a quirky, funny movie, and you don't mind lots of naked ladies running around all over the place (yes, even if you're female - I am, and I liked it), go rent it. It might surprise you.
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A Misunderstood Classic
droberts@imdb9 August 2000
Warning: Spoilers
Calling Showgirls "poorly acted" or "sexist" completely misses the point; it's like accusing Britney Spears of not being a "real musician," as though you've discovered something.

Of *course* Showgirls is exploitative and demeaning to women. Almost all Hollywood movies are demeaning to women. Almost all of them are male-written, male-directed male fantasies. But most of them cover this fact with a thin veneer of "empowerment" and "sensitivity," making perfunctory, surface concessions to political correctness. It's hypocritical, dishonest and has horrible long-term effects on the psyches of young impressionable girls (and boys). The brilliance of Showgirls is that it gathers all of the worst Hollywood masculine excess and throws it unapologetically in our faces. The movie is straight-from-the-id, primal, brutish male fantasy. Every woman in the movie is a laughable caricature who advances, if at all, by deceiving other women and becoming a sexual object for men. The "heroine," Nomi, crosses every line, sells every shred of dignity, physically assaults her female competitors, sleeps with her boss (in the most over-the-top sex scene in cinematic history), gets her best friend raped... and at the end of the film, claims that she has gambled and won "herself." This tragi-comic nod to empowerment is a slap to the face of anyone who's been paying attention.

Whether Esterhauz and Verhoeven intended it as such, Showgirls is at once a camp classic and a sly satire, an example of everything our culture at once wallows in and disavows. Sure, you can react with righteous indignation, waggle your finger at the movie, and pat yourself on the back for being so enlightened. But maybe you should take a look around, at the billboards, the commercials, the sitcoms, the movies, the music videos, your own prejudices... and think about whether you can't find a better target.
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Beyond the Valley of the Showgirls
GroovyDoom2 May 2003
Warning: Spoilers
Every once in a while, a film comes along that strikes a chord with audiences in such a way that they react strongly; sometimes, because of this, the film can become a hit. The opposite can happen as well. "Showgirls" drew some venomous reviews from both critics and audiences, and it quickly gained a reputation as a bad movie--it became a buzzword and a joke immediately. An entire generation of filmgoers who were too young to see "Showgirls" (or else uninterested in it) were instructed that it was a bad movie when it was mentioned as such in the all-ages trailer for the big hit "Scream 2". More recently, people like Tarantino and a few respected film critics began to admit that they loved the film, and while it's never going to gain acceptance as a serious film, at least people are able to see "Showgirls" for what it is instead an opinion based on legend.

Yes, "Showgirls" is trashy and absurd, but we do enjoy those kinds of films. Are we saying that it's wrong to make them? I think the main problem with "Showgirls" is that it's a great looking, big budget film that is a pastiche at heart. Whatever people were expecting at the time of its release, they were definitely not expecting a new "Beyond the Vally of the Dolls" (which, like "Showgirls", got the strongest possible rating at the time of its release). Also similar to Russ Meyer, Verhoeven takes Joe Esztherhas's crazy script and directs his actors to be straight faced at all times, saying these lines as if they mean it. Just like in 1970, this defied the expectations of the audience, and it got the movie panned.

Whatever Paul Verhoeven intended with this film, it's hard to imagine that this happened accidentally, and even the people who claim to like "Showgirls" because it's "so bad" are missing the point just a little. I think the bizarre qualities of the film are mostly intentional, and it doesn't stray too far in style from successful films Verhoeven made before this, mostly "Basic Instinct". In fact, it seems to me that the only true bungling has been MGM's marketing. Even now, as they reap the benefits of it being a cult classic that has sold extremely well on home video, their idea of how to round out the DVD edition is to get somebody totally uninvolved with the film to deliver a sometimes amusing but otherwise unnecessary commentary about the obvious instead of paying Elizabeth Berkley a couple thousand dollars to offer her own commentary on the film, which would have been a couple thousand times better.

Eszterhas writes trashy movies intended to be a good time, and "Showgirls" is certainly that. But I can't imagine Verhoeven thinking that this movie would connect with audiences on a large scale basis; the trailers implied that "Showgirls" would be similar to "Basic Instinct", which it is not. Maybe if this movie had come later, after another failed attempt to recreate "Basic Instinct", people might have accepted it as its own type of film. The dialog is way over the top, and how utterly boring would the movie have been otherwise? Other parts of the film are marvelously conceived, and Verhoeven keeps the film in motion at all times. The only thing that truly spoils the fun is a violent rape scene, although it does fit with the reptilian tone of the movie, full of victims and victimizers; it is the one thing that grounds the film in the real world with real violence. It may not have been intentional, but it presents an interesting concept: if the rape had happened to any other character, it would not have been the same. Because it happens to the film's only sympathetic character, it carries a great impact. The cinematography is flawless, and the sets are always interesting and sometimes funny (like the bizarre stage numbers). Pay attention to the soundtrack as well, Verhoeven has an excellent collection of songs, many of them written specifically for the film.

Watching Elizabeth Berkley's career self-destruct on camera is one of the film's most morbidly fascinating pleasures. I beg to differ with people who call her performance "bad"; what actress could have played this part and made it anything other than what Berkley did? The truth is, she worked wonders with a character that was impossible to play. Her dancing is both ridiculous and a marvel. How she can bend herself into those positions and hit those marks, not to mention her famous lap dance gyrations, must be seen to be believed. Gina Gershon is great too, a leering predator who manages to be both vulnerable and invincible at the same time, and only because she seems to be the only actor in the troupe that's in on the joke. Kyle McLachlan is skeezy, with a haircut and a smile that make him resemble the creature from the "ALIEN" franchise more than a human being. You expect an inner jaw to emerge from his mouth at any moment.

"Showgirls" is ridiculous, but to me it's also multifaceted and fascinating, appealing to the cynic in all of us. It fails as an engaging story, but the film itself doesn't fail to engage the viewer at all; you can laugh at it (or with it), and it accomplishes something subversive in the way it makes you consider the filmmakers and actors involved. I think most people just say "Showgirls" is a bad movie because they've already been told it's a bad movie. I revisit it more often than some of the other films in my collection, and it gets more absurd, funny, gross, and sometimes even beautiful, every time I watch it. Bad movies are boring movies. "Showgirls" is not.
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The dream factory
tieman6430 September 2007
Warning: Spoilers
"You want it, you pay for it." - Club bouncer (Showgirls)

Showgirls is an interesting film, though people won't appreciate it for many years to come. The problem with Paul Verhoeven is that nobody realises that he's a satirist. All his films shot outside of the Netherlands are intensely satirical and not meant to be taken at face value. With "Showgirls" he quotes from "All about Eve" and "42nd Street", tearing apart those pipe dream stories that audiences have been so conditioned to absorb.

Verhoeven's real target isn't Hollywood or American crassness, but rather those morally dubious "Star is Born" tales. The audience isn't punished for wanting to see sex and nudity, it's punished for wanting Nomi to succeed. The film is saying that in a crass society, success is bankrupt, and by pushing the pipe dream, you merely fuel this big, ugly machine.

Nomi, the star of "Showgirls", isn't a character. She's a piece of wood. A piece of wood not because she can't act, but because she's a mere slab of fuel, existing solely to be burnt up and combusted by her neon lit environment. She goes from strip club, to dance club, to theatre house, exploited all the way. And she loves it.

By the end of the film it's not funny that Nomi is going to make the same mistakes all over again. It's sad that despite the fact that the Myth has been revealed repeatedly, she is still seduced by it enough to try all over again. It's like those Toys they give kids at Macdonald's. The child knows the toy is total crap, but they just have to collect the other one. Why? Because it's a toy, and the child's perception is that toys are fun.

"Showgirls" deals with this false perception. The toy is crap. It's unsatisfying, but we want it because we can't find satisfaction in what we have and in where we're at.

"Showgirls" is also intensely symbolic. Song titles mirror Nomi's apartment numbers, each of her jobs takes her one step further into hell (which ironically is her goal), she symbolically dies and is reborn, the famous lapdance is shot to mirror the sex scene in the pool, and the film ends with Nomi battered and broken and more importantly, even more ignorant than before. Then there's her "dream man" (hinted at by a billboard at the start) who turns out to be a devilish rapist by the end of the film. This theme of one being punished for ones "fantasies" permeates the entire film and extends outward in such a way that the audience itself participates. At first we're titillated, but by the end, the sex has numbed us and we reel in disgust.

In terms of style, the film is intentionally over the top. It's loud, crass and overly colourful. Nomi herself thrusts her body at us in a ridiculously pathetic manner. The director's aim is not to titillate. He wants us to pity the girl's desperation, her falsity, the tasteless stains of her makeup and desperate contortions of her body. Nomi is dumb and is always begging us to accept her. And so Verhoeven subjects us to visual and aural overload, all designed to numb our minds. We leave the film stupid, and unaroused, poetically blind and unaware of the truths it has shown us.

The best satires tend to raise the most unjustified hate, and "Showgirls" is no different. What's different is that the nudity, sex and overall tacky "bad movie" aesthetic of the film, prevents it from being re-evaluated or even embraced. Future audiences, desensitized to pornography and nudity, will probably accept this film easier.

There's also one really good shot in the film that reminded me of Welles. The shot occurs when Nomi sits on a park bench alongside a busy street. The bench is in the foreground, but perspective is forced in such a way that it dwarfs the Las Vegas buildings surrounding it.

In terms of camera work, the film is also impeccably shot. Verhoeven's camera is precise, with some beautiful steadicam and crane shots.

7.5/10- An interesting satire, intentionally camp, cartoonish and over the top. Though some scenes feel tasteless, the film as a whole surprisingly seems to get better with repeated viewings. Pay attention to one scene in which children walk innocently through a theatre, nude women all around. Moment's later a woman curses violently and the kids and their mother are shocked. Verhoeven's point is clear: language, violence and exploitation are far more tasteless than any naked breast.
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i loved this piece of crap
nobbytatoes12 September 2005
Nomi is a young girl who is going to Los Vegas to become a dancer. She's starts at a strip club called cheetahs, then she makes it to the Stardust chorus line. Her friend Molly, she is a costume designer for the stardust, which helped with her career path. The lead dancer at Stardust is Chistal, and Nomi trys get overthrow her to get her part.

This is such a stupid movie, but that's what makes this movie such a treat. When this first came out 10 years ago, it majorly flopped. It was seen as exploitive against women and depraved. Elizabeth Berkley from saved by the bell fame used this movie as her chance to be taken as a serious actress, and she was outcast from acting. I think this movie was made just at the wrong time. It has been ten years and what social satire in '95 was, is very different now. I found this very empowering towards women. It shows just how blind men can be; that women have more power than they actually realize.

Elizabeth Berkley does do a very bad job at acting, but there is this charm she has. all the over acting brought some dignity to her character. Gina Gershon as Christal plays the best bitch; very two faced. Kyle MacLachlan looks like he stumbled off the set of Blue velvet, but brought some of Denis hoppers sleaze along with him.

Paul Verhoeven directed this bag of sleaze, but like a lot of his movies, there is this mood of depression; showing life at its worse, where it cant get any worse. If you've seen Total Recall, RoboCop and Starship Troopers you'll notice this running theme of his.

this does have a bit of a slow burn to it. a lot of the back stabbing doesn't happen till about the hour and half point, but its a great cynical satire till then. there's so many clichés in here, but you kinda don't think about them as most of the time your wondering if you just saw what you just SAW. And the one liners are just awesome.

This may not be a master piece, its far from it. but this show just how great some bad tasting movies can be the most pleasurable experience.
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Not as bad as all that
alxvy18 December 2004
I thought this film was not bad actually, and saw it as a voyage though bitchy sleazy Las Vegas showlife. Everyone goes on about the wildly exaggerated sex by the leading girl, but might that not be her style as a wannabe Vegas showqueen.

I think compared to a lot of films that come out that deserve a one star rating this doesn't deserve one, I found it watchable and I think there's been a kind of herd effect to say it's trash. It's just *about* trash.

So right on Tarantino for coming out alone in praising it I say.
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Introductory speech for Showgirls screening
bad_dreams-129 March 2008
Warning: Spoilers
Showgirls: a film in which absolutely everything that could fail, fails, and fails spectacularly. From the bizarre casting down to the plasticated set design, Showgirls is constantly redefining the parameters of awfulness. Who decided that Elizabeth Berkeley, the tall, leggy, Milo Manara-esqe ingénue "famous" for playing Jesse Spano in Saved By the Bell, could carry a major Hollywood film, let alone one as ridiculous as Showgirls? Is LizBerk really the right choice to portray a young woman so irresistible that even though she is unfailingly rude, selfish and mean, everyone wants to bend over backwards to do nice things for?

What I'd like everyone to pay attention to this time through, however, is the fact that this particular narrative only makes sense if you assume that it is taking place in an alternate universe with norms of behavior and physical laws radically different from our own.

It's the sort of place where all that women talk about when they are together is their nails, their breasts and potato chips. It's the kind of world where there only two types of food: burgers and fries, or brown rice and vegetables. It's the kind of world where a petulant kickaholic with rage issues immediately becomes the center of everyone's world as soon as she shows up on the scene. It's the sort of place where if you find an emaciated hooker beating up your car, and you ending up getting in a fight with her, you punch her, she vomits, runs into the street and narrowly escapes being run over by a car, then within seconds of this brush with death decides to make a pass at you, instead of calling the police, you buy this woman french fries and a large coke, and watch as she repays your kindness by saucily evading your questions and angrily throwing a french fry temper tantrum, and not only do you not tell her off, you invite her to live with you in your trailer.

It's the kind of world where topless dancers in cheesy Las Vegas shows are internationally famous superstars; the kind of world where Janet Jackson and Paula Abdul would actually consider starring in a topless revue. It's the kind of world where the following exchange makes perfect sense:

"Tony, she's all pelvic thrusts. I mean, she prowls. She's got it."

"I wonder how she got it. Well, she certainly didn't learn it."

"She learned it all right, but they don't teach it in any class."

It's the kind of world where mimicking the death throes of a mackerel thrashing on the deck of a fishing boat is considered superlative sexual technique. A world in which the only unselfish person around for miles gets brutally gang-raped by her hero, a Michael Bolton impersonator and his body guards

Most importantly though, it's the kind of world where we, the audience, are expected to be emotionally invested in the trials and tribulations of a knife-wielding, doggy chow-eating, bipolar crack-whore with aspirations to radically improve her life by becoming a titty dancer.
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A really fun movie...despite what the critics say!
jimmyplm28 March 2000
People love to trash this movie for some reason. Sure, it has its cheesy moments and maybe there is some over-acting on the part of a couple of the actresses, but still, this movie has some really fun scenes. You just can't take this movie too seriously and still enjoy it. Watch it as if it is a raunchy comedy and you won't be disappointed. I think it is hypocritical that the same country that made the movie Basic Instinct a hit would trash this one. I just feel sorry for Elizabeth Berkley since this movie probably ruined her career. Still, I think we should all give her another chance. She's worth it. Don't all our Saved By the Bell loyalties mean anything? I want to close by saying that I am proud to own this movie in my personal video collection. It is a cult classic in the making!!!
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The Best Movie Ever Made of It's Genre!
winkwi27 August 2006
The seedy under belly of Las Vegas? Nude lap dancing? A tough old broad with a heart of gold and the mouth of a sewer? A ruthless climb to the top? Kicking a fuax Michael Bolten's azz in thigh highs? This movie has it all and then some! Showgirls is one of the funniest comedies ever made. OK, so it was supposed to be an erotic drama but forget that and sit back and laugh your way through the very best of the worst movies ever made.

There wasn't a thing that did not go wrong with this film. The script reads like it was created via the Hollywood processor. Feed in one part 'Flashdance', another 'Basic Instinct' and with more than a with a tiny dose of the great 'All About Eve', and then stir with a few characters lifted from a 'Mannix' rerun: the Cheetah club operator (who reads like he came from pimp school 101) the chubby foul-mouthed MC with a heart of gold, and best friend who will have to suffer and ladies and gentleman, we are ready to shoot! And what about the cast? Madonna, in one of the few wise film choices she made, turned down the role of the leading lady of Las Vegas and Gina Gershon stepped in. Drew Barrymore said no thanks to the role of Nomi, the ambitious dancer who was ready to claw her way to the top, and after they hit up every B, C and D list of actresses they ended up casting Elizabeth Berkley. Who, up to then, was best known for her sweetie pie role on the tween comedy "Saved By the Bell.'

Director Paul Verhoven and screenwriter Joe Esterhaus re-team coming of the world wide smash hit 'Basic Instinct' and most likely had virtual carte blanche, no one to say no. They made gazillions for the investors of Basic and were at the pinnacle of their power.

A lousy script, incredibly poor casting choices and direction and big glitzy production numbers and the recipe for a disaster of legendary proportions was the result.

Sit back, have a glass of champagne, get ready to toss your fries and sit back and enjoy. You will be able to tell all your friends you saw it long before the Broadway musical all drag version was all the rage!
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Enthralling, and not bad at all
NJtoTX25 July 2004
I'm glad I didn't turn this off 20 minutes in, thinking that it was basically what I'd heard and expected. Despite all the early embarrassing missteps and clunky lines delivered by Ms Berkeley, the film actually grew into an experience that I didn't want to turn off. It's ten times as good as Striptease.

It's not Citizen Kane, but it's not a soft-core porn version of Rock Star (awful film) either. Most of the characters were well-developed and believable, even it the situations were not. And there's plenty of humor, the vast majority of it intentional.

I'm wondering if most of the heavy derision of the film comes from Puritanical attitudes, rather than from an honest evaluation. If unromanticized sex and heavy nudity -- literally, in the case of one character -- make you (or your viewing companions) uncomfortable, Showgirls probably not for you.

I enjoyed it and would watch it again.
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Campy beyond the wildest dreams of drag queens!
khia21330 April 2003
Along with "Valley of the Dolls", "Reefer Madness," and "Beyond the Valley of the Dolls," "Showgirls" belongs in the pantheon of bad film. But don't take that wrong. This film is so bad, that it's fabulous.

From the deer in the headlights performance of Elizabeth Berkley, to the so far over the top that you need a telescope to look down at it dialogue, this film is a camp masterpiece. Never before have so many cliches and ridiculous scenarios been gathered in one film.

The plot? A simple girl with big dreams travels to the big city to become A STAR! She struggles against the odds, only to achieve her BIG BREAK! She rejects it all when she realizes that fame is hollow and disallusioning. Sounds like every show biz movie every made except in this version, the big dream is to be a topless showgirl, the big break involves literally breaking the competition's leg and fame involves wearing three sets of false eyelashes and sparkles as clothing. The movie dislikes women so much that there is no female character in the whole of it that isn't either wildly catty or completely witless. Men in this film don't fare much better, but no male is subjected to a gang rape as the lone sympathetic female character is.

If I remember correctly, Joe Esterhaus was paid a ridiculous amount of money for the screenplay for this film. As penance for creating this abomination, he should be required to wander the earth, giving money to anyone who sat through it.

Nonetheless, I recommend this film as a laugh riot for the sheer lunacy of it.
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Watch with a grain or two of salt at hand
dirtychild2 November 2004
Showgirls follows the exploits (and exploits!) of Nomi (Liz Berkley) who travels to Las Vegas with a dream of becoming a "show-girl" (set your goals high!). She lands a job at a sleazy strip bar and eventually joins a chorus line of a casino show. She befriends the star of the show (Gina Gershon) and her boyfriend (Kyle MacLachlan) and it all ends up being a bit of a love triangle. I think the film's makers attempted to create a R rated modern musical - but the problem is that the music is cruddy, the choreography cheesy (but I love the "arm-flick" move) and the acting flaky. It's hard to understand the motivations of the main character - she is just so spontaneous and out-of-control - it's hard to relate to her. Also - the sex is just so trashy and unsexy - it gives Demi Moore in Striptease a run for her money in terms of film unsexyness. But - this is a movie that you need to watch with a grain of salt. Don't take it too seriously - think of it as a musical comedy... and you might have a good time.
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jrgirones30 December 2002
This excellent remake of "All about Eve" have been extremely underrated without motives. First of all,I will say it is far more sordid in its depiction of Las Vegas showbusiness backstage than the majority led you to believe.

The principal guarantee is that it is directed by Paul Verhoeven, one of the most interesting and personal filmakers nowadays, with frenzy and nerve and that mixture of sex and violence characteristic of his filmography, so there's no doubt this is one of his most personal works for the screen. His perverse look to human desire, impulses and instincts and the direct way he brings it to he screen are something really unique and make him an "author" rather than a mere director. Talking about "Showgirls", the exciting choreographies and its connection with what is being told reveal his love and knowledge of the musical genre.

In addition, the script by Eszterhas is a malicious retelling of the Cinderella's tale, manipulative, funny, filled with great dialogue and a sense for rhythm than a lot of screenwriters would like to have.

Gina Gershon shines in her role, but I simply can't believe why the critics deceased Elisabeth Berkley when her performance is filled with enthusiasm and energy.

Bear all this in mind, and at least, give it a try! If you know and admire Verhoeven's work, you will sure appreciate "Showgirls" in its just measure.
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Underrated fun movie
stevenfallonnyc31 January 2003
Paul Verhoeven's "Showgirls" is the last great exploitation film. Sure there's T&A, but big deal, the main attraction here is watching the over-the-top characters be sleazy and screw each other over for their own general good, and for the actor's over-the-top performances, especially that of Elizabeth Berkley. The Stardust entertainment guy looks like the singer of The Undertones, I thought that was pretty cool. But seriously this film is non-stop fun, watching the actors obviously having a good time is a blast!
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Put it On! Put it On!
The_Film_Cricket26 February 2014
Warning: Spoilers
You know the old story of the father who caught his son smoking cigars and locked him in the closet and made him smoke the whole box? The idea, I suppose, was that prolonged exposure to something bad will, psychologically, turn off all urges to repeat that same offense. "Horse Pucky!" I decried, not believing such a tale could possibly be true . . . until I saw Showgirls. I like sexy naked women as much as the next guy but after this movie was jiggled in my face for two and a half hours, I didn't want to see another naked body for about the next two years (Freud would have eaten me alive).

I doubt that the movie had the same effect on Joe Esterhauz, the "author" from whose pen this sheepdip flowed. Not long after the movie came out, I was watching one of those "making of" specials and Esterhauz said that the movie was a hard-boiled expose on the empowerment of women (yeah . . . okay). The special boasted that this was a recurring theme throughout his work which includes Basic Instinct, Flashdance, Jade and Sliver. I guess that Joe and I must have different ideas about female empowerment because his idea seems to be to portray women as hookers, strippers, killers and raging lesbian predators (anything outside those four categories and they're fishfood). He apparently thinks that their best activities for empowerment are knives, lesbianism, sex for cash, violence and nasty sneers (Mr. Freud, you would have had to put overtime in on this one).

In Showgirls, the women could be any one of these things. Violence is so much an afterthought to their personalities that it comes out in their speech, their clothes, their stares, their dancing and even their collegian stuffed lips. It oozes from every pore and even comes out in a scene at a fast food restaurant when the heroine furiously squirts ketchup all over her french fries. For me that scene proved a commentary on the film because, well, you know how when you squeeze a plastic ketchup bottle it makes that loud flatulent noise? You get the idea.

I think Joe knows that he has a lousy script because he keeps throwing in deterrents so that we hopefully won't realize that the script is featherweight. Deterrence like nudity for example which got the film an NC-17 but should have been an NC-95 so no one would have had to sit through it. The characters reside in Vegas but the movie might as well have been staged in a nudist colony. Nearly every scene is littered with wall to wall skin, whether the scene calls for it or not. They dance naked, they sleep naked, they eat naked, they talk while they're naked. The movie is so jam packed with nakedness that the sexy parts are when the women put their clothes back on! Esterhauz turns out the be the only boob attached to this project that is not on screen.

The movie follows the destiny of a walking bag of hostility named Nomi Malone (played by Elizabeth Berkley whose acting comes in two flavors: Stare blankly and blink) who has killer looks and the brain of an appliance bulb. She's a leather-clad bad-chick from the wrong side of the tracks who hitches to Vegas to become a dancer. How are we to be sure that she's bad? She wears leather, carries a switchblade and cakes on enough make-up to make Tammy Faye wince.

Perhaps, she figures, all that badness makes her a human shield against that cold and unfeeling landscape of bitter failure and resentment known as Las Vegas. When she gets there she finds that Vegas is, well, a cold and unfeeling landscape of bitter failure and resentment.

Everyone in the movie approaches Nomi like a lion smacking it's chops. Everyone hates each other (which makes us hate them and therefore the movie) but Esterhauz explains that in this hellish world of hostility and sexual vengeance Nomi learns a lesson in morality (Really? I must have blinked).

Before the sun sets on her first day in Vegas, Nomi makes a new best friend, becomes her roommate and gets a job at a strip club - and she's STILL ticked off!! The roommates situation is just an excuse for pseudo-semi-sorta-kinda halfway attempt at some lesbian shenanigans hinted at because Nomi and Molly sleep naked in the same bed. Read that again and keep in mind that they've only known each other for one day.

Nomi has dreams of getting a gig with a jiggle and light show called "Goddess" which we are told is the hottest show in town (Yeah, maybe if it were the ONLY show in town). I can't figure why she's so eager to get a part in this thing. IT'S TERRIBLE!! It's like a bizarre tribal dance in which the dancers contort in front of feux volcanoes and do spidery things with their fingers. It's like a strange pseudo-seductive dance on Star Trek only the performers lack the decency to look humiliated.

The show, like the movie is dull, real dull. So dull that you begin looking in the backgrounds for other things to look at. The sets for the show and indeed the entire movie are a hammered collection of sharp, shiny things that glitter in the background and I guess are suppose to make things look sexy. At one point, I was so bored that I began staring at those sets and imaging how the pieces could be cut up and used for Junkyard Wars.

* (of four)
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A movie about nothing
Xenomaster8 July 2012
Warning: Spoilers
This review is going to be short and sweet because there is so little to talk about as relates to this film. The entire plot of the movie can be summed up like this: A hooker hitchhikes her way to Las Vegas, ruins the lives of every single person she comes into contact with, and then leaves.

That is literally the entire movie. And this takes over two hours to trudge through. Nomi Malone is the most unlikeable protagonist (if you can even call her that) in cinematic history. I never thought a movie could make naked women boring, but this one did just that. Avoid this like the plague.
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Among the greatest "so-bad-it's-good" movies of all time.
Fad King10 April 2005
Warning: Spoilers
Three years removed from the success of "Basic Instinct," writer Joe Esterhaz and director Paul Verhoven apparently figured that they could make lightning strike a second time by spending a lot less money on talent, a lot less time on plot subtlety, and amping up the sex content exponentially. That shadowy shot of Sharon Stone's nether-regions seems positively demure in comparison to the all-out T&A parade that unfolds in this film and netted it the first NC-17 rating applied to a mass-market movie.

In a performance with all the nuance of rotting garbage, Elizabeth Berkeley snarls, grunts, glares, and all but presents her hind-quarters for mounting like the wild animal she appears to be portraying. How appropriate that her character Nomi strips at a club called Cheetah's and appears in the climactic scene in matching leopard-print bustier and skirt! Berkeley's primary wild kingdom antagonist is the sultry Gina Gershon, whose pouty lips and well-manicured nails get literal and figurative workouts throughout the film, as lesbian lip-locks vie with clawing verbal catfights for on screen time while these two appear together.

As much as I loved the badness of this movie the very first time I saw it, it really gets better (or is it worse?) every time I see it. Sometimes I'm tickled by bigger questions like "Why does Gina Gershon's character take so much time and effort to torture this nobody Nomi chick?" to smaller questions like, "Why does Nomi appear in the poster for her big Vegas show wearing what looks like an Eva Gabor wig?" In so many ways, this is a movie experience that just keeps on giving.
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This is one ugly film. It's pretty good for unintentional comedy.
Lumpenprole25 February 2002
Warning: Spoilers
* spoilers, nothing but spoilers

In her role of Nomi (an unlikely and symbolically heavy-handed name), Elizabeth Berkeley comes off as someone with an impulse control problem and the attention span of a puppy. She spends most of the movie with a vacant expression on her face that gives way to unprovoked screaming fits. Her character starts the film as a jerk who treats people badly and end the film as a jerk who treats people badly. The plot, in fact, has no effect on her personality. This is amazing, cuz the plot is such a lame moralistic fable to begin with. Innocent girl (from NY City?) makes it to the big city, works her way up and finally succeeds by sinking to the depths of the people around her. This makes her want to leave, cuz, you know, she's become everything she's ever hated or something. The problem with this story is that Nomi STARTS OUT as an awful jerk who would push a colleague down some stairs to get ahead - she just hasn't thought of it yet. So the story, which anyone over the age of four has seen before, is pointless.

The dialogue is atrocious - it's Penthouse Letters stuff. It's how horny old men think young women talk when they're in the bathroom. That said, there's a lot dialogue in this movie that is unforgettable in the same way that Battlefield Earth makes variations on `I have leverage' unforgettable.

Kyle MacLachlan spends the whole movie with a stupid stoner smirk plastered on his face.

The sex… ohmygod the sex. The simulated sex scenes in this movie are comic gold. At least twice that I remember Nomi mounts the MacLachlan character and does this move on him that looks kinda like a fish out of water. Her spine… it sorta whips up and down so that her torso is flipping in mid air. The hilarious part is that one of the sex scenes is in a hot tub and when Nomi does her thing, her body slaps and plops the water. Besides being unerotic, the sex scenes go on forever.

I have never, ever, before in my life, wanted women in movies to put some clothes on. I admit it - I'm disgusting. When the sex scene got started in Muholland Dr., the thought going through my mind was `THIS IS THE BEST MOVIE EVER!' But Showgirls takes the juvenile male urge to stare at boobies and pummels it. About half way through the film all I could think about the all those breasts is that support is a matter of comfort. It just seemed merciless to depict a world where there are apparently so few bras.

Anyway, that's the funny stuff. Now for the awfulness. Black people are nurturing. There are two characters for Nomi to crap on, despite their best efforts to help her out. Glenn Plummer plays a dancer who wants to help Nomi perfect her absolutely jaw-dropping dancing talent and Gina Rivera plays a sweet person who takes Nomi in when she arrives in Vegas. When Rivera's character, Molly, first meets Nomi, Nomi is attacking Molly's car cuz her luggage was stolen and the car was nearby when she needed to hit something. Instead of beating Nomi senseless, Molly buys her some food, offers to be her roommate and help finding a job. And it goes on like that. Nomi is basically infantalized during scenes with Molly. This is true of Glenn Plummer's character as well, who spends most of his screen time chastising Nomi like a parent about wasting her talent. Of course, in the dark world of Showgirls, nice people can't exist. Plummer's character turns out to be a guy who says that every girl is a dancer of extraordinary talent to sleep with them (but with Nomi, he really means it) and after mothering Nomi for half the movie, Molly gets gang raped cuz… I dunno, victims are always asking for jerks to be nice to them and that's what she gets or something equally insightful.

Everyone in the film keeps talking about how Nomi is a phenomenal dancer. I didn't see anything to justify this. Actually, they labored the point so much that it invites scrutiny that her dancing can't live up to. It's kinda cruel really. What if someone made a movie with Steve Buscemi where everyone marvels at how handsome he is? I don't think there's anything wrong with his appearance, but if you spent two hours being asked to look at him and admire his features...

Anyway, this movie is bad in so many ways, but it's memorable. It's like watching Plan 9 for the laughs, but different. It played recently at the Midnight Mass in SF - a venue that plays camp classics like early John Waters and the Mommy Dearest. Verhoeven and Eszthehas set out to make a naughty, dark movie. Instead they made a crude, incompetent and disgusting film. Showgirls is probably exactly the film they intended to make and that's why it's funny.

Gina Gershon didn't stink.
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Lott44415 November 2008
Warning: Spoilers
It does not follow. That's the best way to describe this movie to anyone. I've watched it several times now; I admit, the movie is so strange that even though you know it is bad you have to go back and watch it again just because you can't believe what you just watched. That's saying something for me, a person who can only watch a movie once before needing a few months to pass before wanting to watch again.

What I find so intriguing in this movie is how badly the character of Nomi (Elizabeth Berkley) interacts with people, and how, amazingly, they accept her. Not just accept her, they all love her. Nomi, a woman who reacts with violent hostility to simple questions or requests, displaying herself to be a complete sociopath. Yet, strangely, every person she snaps on sees her as something endearing or wonderful for some inexplicable reason. I just don't get it.

In the beginning of the movie Nomi loses it on a total stranger, attacking the woman's car before being stopped and then vomiting for some unknown reason. The woman's response? Take her to dinner, but not before nearly kissing her in the most misplaced and misguided lesbian reaction. I would have called the cops. What next? I'll tell you. Nomi snaps again when asked a simple, harmless question by throwing the food the woman was treating her to and shouting. The woman's response? She asks Nomi to move in with her. What the hell?! Throughout the movie Nomi comes off as totally unlikable to the point that I found myself rooting against her, which is ironic seeing as how she is the protagonist of the film. To be fair, Nomi comes in a few flavors. I want to say she is bi-polar but that would leave out her middle ground: the smarmy bitch flavor. I hate to use that word but it's the only way to justly describe her. You'll see. This is flavor is most often displayed when during any of her many disrespectful interactions with her employers and superiors. The cringe-worthy "I was having my period" excuse to her boss and her taunting of Cristal Conners (Gina Gershon) later in the film.

She seems to follow some set of ill-defined and unbalanced set of morals that make no sense to anyone but her. Nomi all but whores herself out for success but draws a line at icing her nipples for some reason. Then throwing the ice at the casting director and exploding on him. Wow. Then she gets the job.

With respect to Elizabeth Berkley, I don't know why so many people in this film saw her as this amazing beauty with so much talent. She is attractive, yes, but by no means the most attractive woman in the cast (even if you exclude Gina Gershon, who was gorgeous). Which leads up to an incredible, vomit-enducing scene between Nomi and Cristal about how great Nomi's breasts are. They're nothing special, in my opinion. The dialogue here.... Honestly, I can't do it justice. Nobody talks like people talk in this movie. Nobody. "I want to see your ass," "What do you think of your breasts?,""I'm on my period. Check." This movie managed to make nude women, even those as beautiful and talented as Gina Gershon, unsexy. The dance numbers failed to entice any kind of sexual desire from me. How untalented must a filmmaker be to make a nude woman unsexy? Goddess would close in a week in real life.

That just scratches the surface. There's so much about this movie that is just awful and makes little sense that I have no idea where to begin. When I have more time I hope to watch this movie and ammend my comment as I go.

As awful as it is, it has more rewatchability than most movies I have ever seen. It's not because this movie is sexy, as the creators hoped, but because it is a moving demonstration of absurdity and a world that could only exist in the mind of people with no scope of social and sexual reality. It is funny, I admit, but still awful.
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daveyboy-714 April 2000
Now, don't take me the wrong way when I say that I loved this film. It's truly a bad film, but it's so bad that it's great! I just can't help but like the utterly incompetent dialogue... especialy the dinner doggie-chow conversation. Writer, Joe Ezerhaus, known for his over-the-top, overly sexual, homophobic, woman-hating scripts has somehow managed to bring these abhorrent traits together in such a way as to fascinate. Clearly prejudiced towards lesbians and gays, Ezerhaus writes with a strange pen here... at once homophobic but at the same time so outrageous that it can't be taken seriously. Berkley's performance is dead-on (many panned it, but really she showed true style and wit bringing a charm to a role designed to be offensive), if not for this Naomi would have been a nasty unsympathetic character and the film really would have just sucked. So, ultimatly, no credit to Ezerhaus! The success of this film (and I'm not talking box-office) resides solely on the performances and directing. With a lesser cast and director this would have been helpless trash, but Gina Gershon, Paul Verhoeven and Elizabeth Berkley bring it to life. Great dance sequences, and cool costumes make for an enjoyable film. I could have done without the brutal rape scene though. That is the films only real downfall... but then again, blame Ezerhaus for that!
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It's so bad that it's good...not
folie31 January 2000
Although this movie has great set design and dance sequences, the ONLY reason to watch this movie is Gina Gershon. Not only did she survive this turkey, she managed to boost her career out of it!

Having said that, I beg some of the previous reviewers here to please wake up. I don't mind if you like this movie for the show, the acting, the cinematography, the nudities....but don't tell me that it is a satire or a cult film.

This is not the kind of movie that is so-bad-it-is-actually-camp-fun. It is bad, it stays bad and it stinks badly. A camp movie is one made with genuine intentions and incompetency. This movie is made by/with seasoned professionals, greed, lots of dough & zero heart. It had too much $/credential to be excused.

Also, this is NOT a satire. To be a satire, it has to have some intelligence. This movie has zilch. It pretends to have a moral while it has none. It pretends to show how women are exploited in Las Vegas while itself is the biggest perpetrator. If you set out to do tongue-in-cheek exploitation movies (like most b-movies and porn), be honest and I'll respect/enjoy that. Just don't be hypocritical.
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Hideous, just hideous
a_suffell8 July 2013
Is the only way I can describe Elizabeth Berkley's so-called acting in this film!. The acting plummets from the moment she pulls out a knife and gives her best angry face in the first two minutes, the acting gets so cheesy it makes Jedward look like a formidable act. I know I seem far too critical but seriously at times the acting gets THAT bad you start feeling awkward, about as awkward when you watch a film with your parents and a nude scene pops up. I just think that the whole film is ruined by Elizabeth's poor acting and cheesy child like mood swings and hissy fits. The dancing looks awful Elizabeth is constantly looking stiff, angry and robotic. If you're looking for a cheap B list movie and a bit of skin then this may be the film for you but be warned the painful part is having to sit through watching it.
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If your a guy that enjoy looking at women beautiful bodies, then this movie is for you!!
themoviebrotha2 August 2017
I will give this movie an 8/10, for the nude scenes of the women!! Also, it wasn't too bad of a movie, to watch a woman attempt to rise to the top to become an exotic dancer in Las Vegas, and the men, who attempt to exploit them in the process! There was a scene that was in the movie, that some guys did that make me want to punch all of those bastards!!! This is an excellent movie to watch, if you plan on taking a trip to Las Vegas like myself in 3 weeks!! This will get you even more excited for SIN city!!
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A career ending movie
Maciste_Brother14 April 2004
The careers of everyone involved with SHOWGIRLS are all but finished: Elizabeth Berkley, Kyle MacLachlan, Gina Gershon, Robert Davi, director Paul VerHOeven and "writer" Joe EszterHACK's career are just about over right now. The only one I think who can still make a comeback is Gina. But even so, the stink from SHOWGIRLS will last an eternity.

SHOWGIRLS is the funniest, most over the top trash/camp film ever made. The dialogue is endlessly quotable. The people who funded this turkey should have asked for their money back. It's hard to believe anyone invested $45 million for this unsexy quasi-scam of a movie. If men can be blamed for thinking with what's between their legs, SHOWGIRLS is the perfect example of this. And then some. Poor Kyle. I actually used to like him. But after watching him in this disastrous movie playing the most embarrassing character ever, I have a hard time watching Kyle in anything he's done, like BLUE VELVET or DUNE.

As for those who say this is a genuine critique of the USA, get real. It's just trash through and through. If it had been a real critique of the USA, religion would have been included somewhere in the storyline. As it is, SHOWGIRLS is a totally "secular" (and more European) product and therefore hardly an authentic view of what makes Americans tick.

So, if you're in the mood to watch something stupid, bad and unintentionally hilarious, you just have to watch SHOWGIRLS. It's classic trash.
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VerhoHo22 February 2000
Read anything about the making of this film and you will see that it was most definitely intended to be a satire by director Verhoeven. Eszterhaus and Verhoeven had their creative parting of the ways over this film. Eszterhaus did not mean for it to be a satire, but Verhoeven saw possibility in the screenplay for parody: A way to include his usual sex and violence and yet also lampoon American culture at the same time. Watch any film by Douglas Sirk (one of Verhoeven's heroes) or any of Verhoeven's previous films, especially his Dutch films, for obvious proof of this. It's what the man has been doing for his entire career. This film is truly great and will one day be properly appreciated.
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