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Showgirls More at IMDbPro »

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298 out of 364 people found the following review useful:

A Misunderstood Classic

Author: ( from Seattle, WA
9 August 2000

*** This review may contain 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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173 out of 205 people found the following review useful:

Read between the lines!

Author: candigrrl (
14 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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169 out of 228 people found the following review useful:

i loved this piece of crap

Author: nobbytatoes from Australia
12 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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123 out of 167 people found the following review useful:

Not as bad as all that

Author: alxvy from London, England
18 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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138 out of 199 people found the following review useful:

A really fun movie...despite what the critics say!

Author: jimmyplm from Chapel Hill, NC
28 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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101 out of 149 people found the following review useful:

Enthralling, and not bad at all

Author: NJtoTX from Austin, TX
25 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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85 out of 119 people found the following review useful:

The Best Movie Ever Made of It's Genre!

Author: winkwi from Richmond VA.
27 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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53 out of 63 people found the following review useful:

Beyond the Valley of the Showgirls

Author: GroovyDoom from Haddonfield, IL
2 May 2003

*** This review may contain 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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119 out of 199 people found the following review useful:


Author: jrgirones from Arenys de Mar, Catalonia, Spain
30 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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31 out of 37 people found the following review useful:

The dream factory

Author: tieman64 from United Kingdom
30 September 2007

*** This review may contain 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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