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Overall Rating
2.49

Awesome: 22.54%
Worth A Look: 10.56%
Average: 8.45%
Pretty Bad: 9.86%
Total Crap48.59%

5 reviews, 112 user ratings


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Showgirls
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by brianorndorf

"The legend of the pasties lives on"
3 stars

It’s impossible to imagine at this point in its extensive exhibition journey, but, in 1995, “Showgirls” was a very big deal and an extremely serious motion picture. Coming off the astonishing success of their smoldering thriller “Basic Instinct,” director Paul Verhoeven and screenwriter Joe Eszterhas paired up again to investigate that abyssal trench of sin: Las Vegas. Presented with a hefty budget, an eye-catching cast, and a no-questions-asked use of the NC-17 rating by a major studio, “Showgirls” was ready to break new ground in adult-minded cinema, making smut a major moviegoing event.

But we all know how that turned out.

A stranger in a strange land, Nomi Malone (Elizabeth Berkley) has come to Las Vegas to achieve worldwide fame as a dancer. After a series of humiliations and obstructions, Nomi finds herself stuck at seedy strip club, forced to tease the tourists for nickels. Enter Crystal Connors (Gina Gershon), the star of “Goddess” (the biggest revue in town), who catches a glimpse of the spastic pole dancer in action, requesting entertainment director Zach (Kyle MacLachlan) bring her onboard the big show. Rising in the ranks through raw talent and some rather devious means, Nomi is soon the toast of the town, alienating those who supported her at the very beginning, while engaging in a heated bout of competition with Crystal, who recognizes Nomi’s killer instinct while everyone else is distracted by her animalistic sex appeal.

It’s been said that “Showgirls” was intended to be Verhoeven’s glamorous tribute to the MGM musicals of his youth -- films that cheerily employed blinding color, stratospheric performances, and unmistakable emotion. To suggest that Verhoeven achieved exactly what he set out to do is a troubling realization, with the film certainly passionate and slickly made, but also thunderously misogynistic, sexually repellent, and overpoweringly diseased. In 1995, the film was nothing less than a trainwreck, baffling the raincoat crowd and sickening adventuresome couples. The picture was branded a sick joke and died a well-deserved death at the box office, taking any hope for a mass acceptance of the NC-17 rating down with it.

And then about a decade ago, “Showgirls” took on a new life, reassessed as a camp classic, with every idiotic idea dreamed up by Eszterhas and sold by Verhoeven reinterpreted as comedy gold, making the film less about oppressive filmmaking absurdity and more about a rollicking drag show with freakin’ Jessie Spano as the master of clothing-optional ceremonies. Suddenly, “Showgirls” popped its collar; it was a cool film to laugh at, not with, with its every last instinct to creep out the room rebranded as genius goofballery sent with love from the bad movie gods.

I stand somewhere in the middle of the “Showgirls” spectrum of reaction. Part of me clearly values the unleashed silliness of the picture; how the neon-drenched, studded-nipple theatrics have been embraced by cult admirers, who’ve done one hell of a job pushing past the inherent vileness of the screenplay to cough up something of comedic merit, digging through the glossy innards of the film to locate anything worth the derision. The other part of me remembers exactly what it was like to experience the picture theatrically during its initial run in 1995, which required a shower and a ceremonial ticket stub burning immediately afterwards. I’m of two minds with “Showgirls,” but I supposed that’s the idea 15 years later. It’s such a barnstorming picture of colossal lunacy, it’s just a lot easier and mentally cleansing to assume that Verhoeven and the gang were aiming for laughs, despite all evidence to the contrary.

Take away the coke-dusted dialogue, the “All About Eve” overtones, and the parade of flesh, and there’s one spectacularly photographed film to enjoy. Cinematographer Jost Vacano pushes the Technicolor candyland of Las Vegas, filling the frame with golden bodies and gorgeous lighting, fluidly moving around the sets and locations to covey the mania of Nomi’s rise to fame. It’s easy to become caught up in the frenzy of the drama, but “Showgirls” is a vivid picture with plenty of optical splendor to pore over, isolating that pulsation of sex appeal that makes Las Vegas such an enduring nest of pleasure. “Showgirls” proves it’s possible to enjoy an entire feature film with the mute button on.

As for the cast, nobody gets out alive. Sure, Berkley took the brunt of the critical battery, and she deserves plenty of lashes for her unreasonably psychotic performance as Nomi (the sex scenes here are legendary), becoming Verhoeven instead of simply taking direction from the lunatic. She’s appalling, but endearingly so, summing up the volatile temperament of the film with her swinging arms, hostile make-up, and bare assets. However, Berkley is secreting the same insanity as McLachlan, Robert Davi (as the control freak manager of Nomi’s strip club), Alan Rachins (playing the demanding producer of “Goddess”), Glenn Plummer (as Nomi’s challenging, exhaustively icky lover), and Gershon, who vamps it up as Crystal, creating genuinely itchy chemistry with Berkley that the film could’ve used more of. The acting’s agreeably confident, but it’s often headed in the wrong direction, rubbing up against the grandeur of the production, inflating the melodrama that feeds the film’s camp appeal. With the ensemble spending the most of the picture eating each other alive, it’s easy to see just how carried away Verhoeven became with this film.

Despite numerous unwelcome topless shots from Lin Tucci (here as zaftig insult comic Henrietta Bazoom), various graphic references to menstruation, and a grand finale that spotlights a brutal gang rape (allowing the film to cross a vicious line that nauseates immensely), “Showgirls” can, ever so slightly, provide a merry time of mockery, creating a swell of stupidity that’s fun to surf. Perhaps it’s best to view the film ironically, otherwise the glittery grotesqueries start to feel like a rash that will itch forever in uncomfortable places.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=1247&reviewer=404
originally posted: 06/26/10 00:18:32
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 CineVegas Film Festival For more in the 2005 CineVegas Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

3/13/17 morris campbell shitty showgirls u should skip it 1 stars
4/25/15 David Hollingsworth Makes Howard the Duck look like The Third Man 1 stars
8/04/14 D. The R. The most abysmally awful big budget production of the 20th century, hands down! 1 stars
4/27/12 Hugh Grant Campy crap. How did Colin Firth miss out in getting a part in this pc? 1 stars
10/14/10 art LIZ BERKLY really show's off her "TALENT"S" 1 stars
9/12/10 Nadine Russo Saw it. It was all right. Gina Gershon is a great actress. 2 stars
6/12/10 PAUL SHORTT SHALLOW, SILLY AND BADLY ACTED 1 stars
12/26/09 Chad Dillon Cooper Typical Hollywood Hostess twnikie bull. Why didn't the public lap this up? 1 stars
4/19/08 Pamela White T and A but no more 1 stars
3/13/08 Bozzy Herpos This film is complete and utter shite. I agree with the reveiwer, it is high camp. Dogshit. 1 stars
7/20/06 David Cohen Pull yer head out John Smith: This movie sucks like a hoover 1 stars
6/10/05 Indrid Cold Despite the "so bad it's good" status, it really is not very enjoyable. 2 stars
6/04/05 Hack-SAW SORRY FOR THE RATING BUT... Gina Gershon WAS THE ONLY SAVING GRACE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 5 stars
5/19/05 That Guy As far as crappy movies go, this one, well...sucks. Yawn... 2 stars
3/11/05 The Sorrow Gina Gershon, was the only thing that was pure in this absolutley gritty flick... 3 stars
12/23/04 Jason Kaul Anybody who watched "Saved By The Bell" for Elizabeth Berkley should jack off to this movie 2 stars
12/10/04 Kristina Williams Versace never sounded so tacky 1 stars
12/03/04 luisalopez excelent movie 5 stars
9/28/04 ELI HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!!!!! This shit is so STUPID!!!! 1 stars
9/04/04 Archanist_101 It's not TOO BAD... But it does go over board with the sexual & violent content... 4 stars
5/17/04 mwildema whoa! shouldn't this have a stronger rating 1 stars
2/29/04 Nicole Saw edited version on VH1 and it made no sense - probably because alot of the film was cut 2 stars
2/01/04 Cypher gg 5 stars
1/20/04 michel Totally agree with Mark Adnum's review. Verhoeven's gonna have the last word!! 5 stars
1/12/04 Farnq Y Fairly honest movie about showbiz 4 stars
1/01/04 ROY L. CAIN,JR. Not a bad movie. To all who disagree, "Back off, motherfucker!" 3 stars
12/10/03 Samuel I was 6 when i watched it I dont really remember alot! 3 stars
12/01/03 I Would The funniest film ever made... oh it's not a comedy? Oh dear. 2 stars
11/28/03 john rather silly 2 stars
11/05/03 nil pretty 2 stars
10/03/03 Z - a WOMAN actually physically painful to watch. watched in disbelief of its badness (sob) 1 stars
9/29/03 JohnnyXXX Not as bad as what most people claimed it to be. It was quite entertaining. 4 stars
8/06/03 Double G Elizabeth Berkley is so hot, but its not such a great movie. 4 stars
8/06/03 AD it wasnt that bad 4 stars
8/04/03 Nicole Had no plot - perhaps because I saw the edited version, which cuts the movie in half 2 stars
7/03/03 Lush It's sheer cackiness actually makes it entertaining. 1 stars
6/26/03 Matthew Gutiérrez this movie really rocked, as opposed to others. i liked the dancing and elizabeth berkley 5 stars
5/19/03 Erykk Gershon is a doll...she is better than this. 1 stars
5/12/03 Jack Bourbon If I were making a T&A piece, I'd try to get someone hotter than Berkley (and likely fail) 1 stars
4/29/03 Mr. Do Entertaining. 4 stars
4/22/03 mr. Pink Reviewer Mark Adnum is right on the money on this one. 5 stars
4/08/03 Jack Sommersby Could have been a trashy classic had it not taken itself seriously. 2 stars
2/05/03 Atanu Nath a very smart review from Mark. hated the lead though. but i like Gershon. 3 stars
2/02/03 fjfvdd This one can only be enjoyed by morons with a shitload of time on their hands. 1 stars
11/11/02 Chiendog As much fun as a magnifying glass and an anthill on a sunny day. 4 stars
10/16/02 Ken Mark Adnum = Walter Chaw? Verhoeven deserved cancer for this. 1 stars
7/22/02 Mark Adnum Uh, that's a "NO" on both counts, jdajd 5 stars
7/19/02 jdajd Mark Adnum HAS to be related to someone in this movie or just a plain moron 1 stars
7/12/02 Mark Adnum Everybody's different, I guess, tad 5 stars
7/08/02 internetwhore hahahahahhaha! the funniest piece of celluloid to ever be let loose on the masses! 5 stars
6/24/02 Baal Can't understand any of the bad comments. Come on, people, it's fun to watch! 5 stars
4/26/02 Charles Tatum If I need boobs, I will just watch real porn 1 stars
4/17/02 Veronica Foxx (The Raven-Haired Temptress) Does Kyle McLachlan have a chainsaw for a penis? He must the way she was thrashing around. 1 stars
4/03/02 jhon i like it 5 stars
4/03/02 Edfink Lombardo Shit, shit, shit. Laughably terrible dialogue and acting. An unerotic mess. 1 stars
3/07/02 Jenny Tullwartz Her name ain't even Lola. Doesn't even have very appealing nudity for those who want it. 2 stars
3/02/02 Mo Anand The critics hated it...I for one like it...it's entertaining. 4 stars
2/28/02 John Linton Roberson Definitely worth watching, among friends, mocking it merrily all the way through. 1 stars
2/27/02 Alan Smithee A truly awful film. But Gina Gershon is still one of the most beautiful women EVER!!!! 1 stars
2/01/02 Bertha Venation All its missing is Patty Duke, she could have played Helen Lawson this time 5 stars
12/04/01 Crunchyfrog I came and came and came...then left 5 stars
10/07/01 jawsboy great pussy & ass!! , piece of shit film making however 1 stars
9/20/01 Monster W. Kung Jake, you are the ultime joke on movie making. Cut your throat. This movie is horseshit! 1 stars
8/27/01 phil m. afficiando makes you wonder about the lives of those who made this thing 1 stars
8/19/01 Edwin Menguin Was this film deliberatley crap?, In the pool is she being knifed in the minge? 1 stars
6/28/01 Frank This movie is so wretched that it's fabulous! 4 stars
4/20/01 i love movies Coyote Ugly is worse! No jigglies in that one! 2 stars
4/18/01 fred not even a nice dick to look at.... boooooo 1 stars
3/27/01 The M.E. The most consistently awful, hilarious thing I've ever seen. Priceless entertainment. 5 stars
3/10/01 Jake I know its bad but it is sooo damn entertaining. 4 stars
3/08/01 I love movies was Verhoeven trying to make the worst movie of all time? I hope he was... 1 stars
2/21/01 Rocket Boy Possibly one of the worst Hollywood films ever, but for sheer laughter, wow. 5 stars
2/15/01 KyLe*BrOfLoVsKi This film is one reason Hollywood Bitchslap was born. 1 stars
2/01/01 jordan i've watched this film many times to try to like it. i can't. 1 stars
11/21/00 Randy Eischer The pork in the pool made it all worthwhile 3 stars
10/17/00 Croweater Was everyone on drugs in this movie?? God this was awful! 1 stars
10/05/00 terry c ah jeez i'm gonna be sick all over berkley,bbbllllaaaahhh 1 stars
9/19/00 Terrie Smith Absolute crap; one of the worst I've seen for many a year. Terrible acting. 1 stars
8/06/00 Bruce AWFUL 1 stars
7/13/00 ID This film is BAD 1 stars
6/25/00 SwatchDog Hilarious! I got it at Versase. Not Oscar Material, but has definitely earned cult status 5 stars
5/18/00 Creeper simply repulsive 1 stars
4/08/00 burdenit KKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKK 3 stars
3/25/00 Lipian Well, it wasnt that fucking great but the tits were o.k. 4 stars
2/11/00 Kyle Broflovski Pasties, periods, pussy-tarts--everything that sucks about being female... 1 stars
1/22/00 movieman It gave me a hard-on, I masturbate to it 1 stars
1/04/00 Nice Guy Eddie ranks as one of the worst movies I've seen, I was extremely bored throughout. 1 stars
12/06/99 Big M Quote from showgils: "I've eaten dogfood before"-"really?"-"Yeah."-"Yeah dogfood is nice." 2 stars
11/07/99 Mickey "Father Death" MacJohnstmyster Its my favourite scary movie , absolutely frightening . Randy Meeks 1 stars
9/25/99 alyssa Who the hell was she sleeping with?? Oh maybe Paul Verhoeven??? 1 stars
9/19/99 Real McCoy If you like PUSSY then you like this Movie 5 stars
9/17/99 TheScream Bad movies can be so delicious. This one is a hot fudge sundae. Not good for you, but yummy 5 stars
9/16/99 strike Let's just say that I think or at least hope that someday this movie won't be ridiculed. 4 stars
9/13/99 K Pillsbury pure, unadulterated crap 1 stars
8/17/99 John Roberson Should be shown to screenwriters as example of what not to do. 1 stars
7/10/99 Caligula Filming a turd for 2 hours would be more entertaining 1 stars
4/06/99 rich n great bodies,and funny it does't take itself serious. 4 stars
3/19/99 Bob "T I T S"; Ben is a faggot 5 stars
3/08/99 Ben Timms Lame, Lame, LAME!!! 1 stars
3/07/99 little jerry Elizabeth Berkley is like a blow-up doll come angrily alive.Best scene-sauce on the chips. 5 stars
3/05/99 Jimmi "Saved by the breats" 5 stars
2/07/99 Don Wilson Has some really cute pussy! 5 stars
1/09/99 Jo Mama oh my goodness! mercy! i saw gina girshon's boobies! 4 stars
11/24/98 Mr.Pink America is in denial to sexuality and their own society, the reaction to Showgirls provesit 5 stars
11/24/98 DrEvil Could only have been if Oprah was in it. "They took my milk." Gives me shivers. 1 stars
11/14/98 Rageboy BLAH! A big-budget porno that isn't even sexy. 1 stars
11/02/98 MR HOLLYWOOD !! Confrontational but more 'UMF' was needed,sexy and silly at the least. 4 stars
10/29/98 J-Guy (the MFC) boring crap. too much titty (if that's possible). badbadbad. 1 stars
10/28/98 Matt A.C. would be very dissapointed in little Jesse. 5 stars
10/27/98 Lord Of The Dunce Give this movie credit for being the perfect hype/promotion/masturbation vehicle. Great. 5 stars
10/27/98 Christ Monkey Joe Eszterhas is a dialogue genius! "Must be weird not having people cum on you!!!" GENIUS! 5 stars
10/27/98 Cage Didn't listen to anyone and rented it... I had hope, but was let down. Wanted more titty... 2 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  22-Sep-1995 (R)
  DVD: 27-Jul-2004

UK
  N/A

Australia
  12-Oct-1995 (R)




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