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Overall Rating

Awesome: 16.56%
Worth A Look: 17.2%
Average: 15.92%
Pretty Bad: 12.74%
Total Crap37.58%

12 reviews, 85 user ratings

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Coyote Ugly
[] Buy posters from this movie
by Erik Childress

"Not As Bad As I Originally Thought"
3 stars

Last weekend a friend of mine concocted a theory that film critics will occasionally pre-judge a movie before they have even sat down in the theater to screen it. And that pre-ruling stands no matter how the film plays out. Well, I can’t speak for other critics, but I know that’s not true of myself. And I’m referring to the second part. It’s impossible not to have an initial perception of a movie, especially in the media age we live in. The public does it all the time. After all – how does one decide what movie they should see, especially those who only catch a few movies a year? I do my best to avoid condemning a movie before I see it, but no matter what my thoughts are when I enter that theater, a good movie will erase any such feelings I had before my theater sitdown in a heartbeat. A bad movie only increases my venom. My initial reaction to the previews of Coyote Ugly had it tagged as possibly one of the worst movies of the year. After seeing the film and leaving the theater, some of those feelings were erased, but not all of them.

The story is your standard small town girl trying to make it in the big city plot. Violet Sanford (Piper Perabo) has dreams of becoming a songwriter. Her father (John Goodman) isn’t your stereotypical disapproving dad, but rather a concerned parent who also is saddened by the loss of his daughter to the world. Overtly naïve Violet keeps getting rejected by record companies and when her apartment is robbed, she must look for a way to earn some money back. This leads her to witness a very interesting display in a coffee shop where three gorgeous girls talk loudly about the money they’ve made and dance like free spirits. In one of my favorite lines, Violet sums them up on first impression by asking, “Are they hookers?” Some may say they dress like that, but they are actually “coyotes”, sexy barkeeps that are apparently known by every male within blast radius of the dive known as Coyote Ugly. Out of desperation, the eternally stage fright Violet manages to swing a job at the bar on pure attitude. Her spunkiness impresses the bar’s owner, Lil (Maria Bello), and this leads to what may be the most entertaining scenes for audiences, but are the worst for the film.

The first time Violet walks into the capacity-choked bar, we’re greeted with a loud, crowd-pleasing orgasmic display of well-toned and proportioned young women shaking their thing to the delight of the male-dominated patrons. This leads to generous tipping and the kind of “woo-woo” chants that isn’t too far removed from strip clubs. And while the movie and the bar is called Coyote Ugly, the moments in the bar is nothing more than a subplot to the dreams of Violet and her newfound relationship with Australian boyfriend, Kevin (Adam Garcia), where the real story is.

The biggest surprise of Coyote Ugly’s script is that it actually takes enough time to establish the relationship between Violet and Kevin. Their romance is really rather sweet and progresses nicely from their awkward first meeting to subsequent flirtation to a succession of wonderfully timed (and acted) kissing scenes. Adam Garcia does a nice job in portraying Kevin as not your average horndog/jerk which has become commonplace in “chick flicks” because the girl doesn’t need any man as long as she has her girlfriends. But Kevin truly cares about Violet and better yet, supports her dream and wants to become part of her future. Piper Perabo fares much better here than she did in the Rocky and Bullwinkle movie, with a beautiful innocent quality and the ability to make me actually believe that she was singing the songs she writes. Maria Bello is able to generate a very good performance as “The Boss” of Coyote Ugly, not taking any crap from anyone and laying down the law when it needs to be. John Goodman also does well as Violet’s father, despite delivering the true howler of the movie with a straight face. After the pseudo-tragedy that was bound to happen in a movie like this, Mr. Sanford tries to keep his daughter from quitting by telling her about her mother’s dreams and then saying, “…I don’t care how many bars you have to dance on…” It’s this kind of insistence on keeping the bar stuff in the movie that prevents Coyote Ugly from being taken seriously. If they would have focused on the relationship between Violet and Kevin coupled with the relationship with her father and best friend – you might have actually had a full-on good film. But it doesn’t, so here comes the venom.

Cocktail, one of the worst films of the eighties, focused on the dreamer instead of the bar antics. Except that Coyote Ugly is a hundred times better than Cocktail because Violet is instantly more likable than Tom Cruise’s jackass Danny Flanagan. So this new film may be Cocktail without the first syllable as the commercials for Coyote Ugly have reduced the film to some kind of “girl power” statement with the five bar chicks getting cute nicknames as if they were the Spice Girls or members of The Breakfast Club. And other than the Dreamer (Violet) and the Boss (Lil), the remaining girls (the Law, the Heartbreaker and the Flame) are the epitome of one-dimensional characters. Well, maybe four-dimensional in chicken terms if you’re counting breasts and thighs. None of them, outside of the Boss, form any kind of significant relationship with Violet at all. Sure, the heartbreaker takes her shopping in one of those liberating (and sexy) clothes montages, a la Pretty Woman, but all the Flame does is look hot and either scowls or smiles her approval of the new girl. And Tyra Banks (whose crown acting moment is still when she got shot in Higher Learning) as “The Law”, is there for nothing but eye candy. When we first meet her character she’s leaving the bar to pursue another career, yet keeps coming back from time to time like she was Jon Lovitz on Saturday Night Live. Sure, the bar scenes are intended to be an impetus for Violet to grow out of her stage fright. I just don’t understand how a young woman can lie on a bar in front of a packed bar of horny men and have water thrown all over like Jennifer Beals (or, at least, her dance double) and still be unable to sing on stage.

Coyote Ugly doesn’t qualify as any kind of girl power metaphor it may have been hoping for with the liberating dancing that takes place on the bar. The movie never mounts any significant argument about the power a woman may feel teasing men the way they do atop the bar or the liberation one has by letting her body move about freely while taking the money of horny men. As the coyotes are told, they are to “appear available, but never be available.” Teases. Consider this: because the movie is told through the eyes of a woman, the dancing girls are free and liberated. If a man was the main character, women would see them as whoo-res. This might explain why Pretty Woman, the tale of a rich man buying a woman and making all her dreams come true is considered the ultimate of romantic movie fantasies. Frankly, when you think about it, Wild Things is more of a feminist statement.

Yet for all that’s said and done, Coyote Ugly isn’t that bad of a movie. It’s sort of a Flashdance for the new century. Small town girl living a man’s world, makes a little money and loses some of her inhibitions by dancing (and having water thrown on her), until finally realizing her dream. I would have liked to have seen a little more of the process of songwriting. We get a brief glimpse of that when Violet finally discovers the beat she’s been looking for for one of them, but I suppose that’s a little too much to ask in a breezy summer concoction like this. And for as much as I like the rip apart the sexy Rockette moments, the script at least has some good sense to point out that the bar should be nothing more than a pitstop. Far lesser movies would have argued that Coyote Ugly is the true dream and that Violet’s gift of songwriting was a less serious hobby. The final scene makes that message a little trivial, but is tolerable for Goodman’s amusing (and perhaps considered, by some, embarrassing) final scene.

How appropriate is Coyote Ugly for some audiences? Well, this is a movie with very little language and some mild barfighting. The only real reason the film is rated PG-13 is for suggestive shaking and close-ups. Females will no doubt dig some of the things I’ve criticized and the guys will be there for the suggestive shaking and close-ups. (At the screening I attended, Coyote Ugly frisbees were handed out – no doubt for the men to cover the front of their pants.) The film’s soundtrack is littered with some great familiar tunes as well as four new songs written by popular Grammy-winning songwriter Diane Warren. In a moment of irony so deep the Titanic is looking down at it, LeAnn Rimes makes a cameo to do what she’s been doing her entire career – singing other people’s songs. Here she gets on the Coyote Ugly bar herself to sing our Violet’s song (no doubt as an edge of rebellion against her estranged father who stole all her money.)

Coyote Ugly could have renamed itself and eliminated the bar sequences altogether, but then the marketing machine wouldn’t have had such a cash cow waiting for them on opening weekend. A “chick flick” that guys can enjoy too. As a guy I enjoyed the high-energy bar sequences. As a film critic, I didn’t. Violet’s songwriting storyline and her relationship with Kevin I enjoyed as a guy and a film critic leaving a film that I would have loved to have trashed, but was won over with some of the performances and material. But not entirely. (Note: For those uninterested in seeing the film to discover what the term “Coyote Ugly” stands for – it refers to a phrase used to describe a night of drunkenness so bad that when you wake up to discover the person you’ve gone home with is so ugly, that you’d rather chew your own arm off instead of risking waking them up.) (Note #2: LeAnn Rimes in her “ripped off” career also covered the popular Trisha Yearwood song “How Do I Live?” which was written by none other than Diane Warren for another Jerry Bruckheimer film – Con Air. What a small world when you’re not original?)

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originally posted: 08/04/00 09:18:59
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User Comments

3/16/14 who well said. pathetic movie that insults both men and women, assuming everyone is too stupid 1 stars
4/05/10 art THIS film is PATHETIC!,JUST like new jersey! 1 stars
5/12/09 Cody Fantastic movie. 5 stars
5/01/09 hannah omg this reviewer is an idiot! adam garcia is AUSTRALIAN douche bag! get ur facts right!! 3 stars
10/05/08 leeyoonkyoung Nose bedspread reel writing ruth loop countlessly, it saw. It is a movie of true top! 5 stars
9/04/08 Rachel I should be saying this is terrible, but I can't help but kinda loving this one. 4 stars
8/02/08 conch tangco omg im addictive to it its the best 5 stars
4/04/07 David Pollastrini Piper Perabo is hot in this! 3 stars
1/27/07 Tamara Leonard I loved the movie to own it.. Have watched countless times. 5 stars
11/29/06 amanda FANTASTIC movie! by far one of my favorites. 5 stars
8/13/06 Ari Horrible Movie 1 stars
5/26/06 Michele fun 4 stars
8/27/05 ES Women act like sluts to sell booze and survive in a man's world and that's awesome? 2 stars
7/06/05 gothboy02 great i like the chick /main 4 stars
6/07/05 y2mckay Why is it that all the "Awesome" comments are from women? Are you really all that stupid? 1 stars
12/10/04 Jason Kaul Royal crap. Wearing a crown of shit and all. But it made a ton of money 1 stars
7/17/04 legend Had low expectations but was pleasantly surprised by such a decent film. 4 stars
7/06/04 Sammi Hella awesome movie...loved everything about it! 5 stars
6/19/04 Denise Duspiva Fun 5 stars
5/28/04 cfdfsdfsd cool 5 stars
5/07/04 wylene Boring story line 1 stars
4/15/04 Veronica Ramirez It's a pretty good movie 5 stars
4/10/04 Michelle Good songs, good story, good actors, the movie was gr8! 5 stars
3/03/04 Blondy i loved it!! wanna move 2 new york now + become a coyote :) 5 stars
2/14/04 I Would Go and get some real porn you wimps 1 stars
1/20/04 michel Will be remembered as a cult classic in the "so bad it's hilarious" category 4 stars
10/21/03 Hayley M IT is the best film i have ever seen. ITs wicked.And jack whoever you are it is COOOOOOL! 5 stars
6/23/03 Gemma kavanagh I thought it was wicked 5 stars
4/29/03 jeffrey amon this movie is great!!!! 5 stars
4/04/03 Jack Bourbon May I have your attention: WHERE WERE THE TITS? 2 stars
3/05/03 Robert Cooley if you miss this, you will live 3 stars
1/28/03 Pinkline Jones Don't watch this film if you're contemplating suicide 1 stars
7/25/02 palaboy101 I was expecting this to be UGLY but it AIN'T! 4 stars
5/23/02 Janx Besides Goodman, nobody in this movie can act worth a damn! No nudity either. Pure Shit 1 stars
5/15/02 Blake This movie deserves a 10 out of 10, it was so great. 5 stars
4/03/02 toya movie was great had a message tellin that u can do ne thing when u achive n go for it. 5 stars
4/02/02 Vitality1 Whoa! This movie has more bad acting than a Dawson's Creek episode!! 1 stars
3/25/02 Veronica Foxx (The Raven-Haired Temptress) This movies only objective: make teen boys hard; con teen girls out of $ w/ B.S. storyline 1 stars
2/28/02 Alan Smithee Nothing but a wanna-be T&A film for teenage boys. Hot chicks though......... 1 stars
2/14/02 Bob Marley never seen it 5 stars
2/02/02 trtrrt rtertrt 5 stars
1/21/02 Spencer Lent I thought it was going to be dumb but it was pretty good. 4 stars
12/04/01 Andrew Carden My IQ Dropped 50 Points After Watching This Mindless Crap. 1 stars
12/01/01 Mr Math I'm dumber for having seen it. 1 stars
11/25/01 the Grinch "..both ways. Which is I'm sure what they made the original screenwriter "Ha! Oz, u r KING! 1 stars
11/25/01 Senor Pescolido Really really generic and bad. At least if you're going to tease, show some skin. 2 stars
8/19/01 Dr. Thompson A textbook example of why american women suck 1 stars
8/13/01 Ken Like a really shitty TV movie, but rated R. 1 stars
8/03/01 Chris K. Sex films are dead! And COYOTE UGLY is one of those "bad sex films" 1 stars
7/29/01 Jennifer Gaissert It's not Shakespeare, but it's cute 3 stars
7/29/01 yop l 5 stars
7/17/01 Elvisfan All plot points are in the form of brick walls falling on innocent viewers 1 stars
5/12/01 Chris The DVD has a montage of the best scenes - it lasts a little over a minute! 1 stars
4/24/01 *~Danielle*Ophelia~* (formerly KyLe*BrOfLoVsKi) I'm a bartender, and if I were to pull some of these hijinks I'd be SO out on my arse... 3 stars
4/20/01 i love movies SHOWGIRLS without the jiggly! how bad can it get? 1 stars
4/16/01 Tam Cute, entertaining film with amazing bar scenes but a predictable plot. Kevin is sooo sexy! 4 stars
4/03/01 AgentDS It's entertaining and the soundtrack rocks! It's a really long video. 4 stars
3/09/01 Jake Yeah, a gem of a film. Not! 1 stars
2/15/01 Kasha I've already seen it twelve times and still love it. 5 stars
1/29/01 Nic Overall, just a great movie. I'd watch it again and again! 5 stars
1/22/01 The Bomb 69 mildly entertaining, except when she sang, ewwww!!!! 3 stars
12/08/00 Jon Wendt It's terrible 1 stars
11/28/00 Cristopher Revilla want tits and ass, get a porno, want musical, get west side story, but don't get this shit 1 stars
11/21/00 Kim I loved this movie, it was cute and innocent and definately worth buying 5 stars
9/06/00 Boy In The Designer Bubble Saw this flick with a chick. She hated it. 2 stars
8/23/00 Jon Wendt Possibly the worst movie I've ever seen 1 stars
8/14/00 TimmyToday PG-13! Not enough, 1 stars
8/10/00 KyLe*BrOfLoVsKi If you're simply looking to kill a couple of hours, this is the way to do it... 3 stars
8/09/00 Poetcdh Good music, good looking stars-what's not to like 5 stars
8/09/00 PJ I volunteer this as the worst film of 2000, even worse than Battlefield Earth, suckarama!!! 1 stars
8/09/00 Manda The entire theatre was clapping and laughing with the movie. I'm going to buy this one. 5 stars
8/08/00 ibspoof As a guy I enjoyed it. 4 stars
8/08/00 Heather Keith script is rough, but very well acted 4 stars
8/07/00 **~**Persnickety**~** ok pretty lame, you can call every shot in this one 2 stars
8/07/00 bobbuttons goodman good, piper hot, tyra not. better than expected 4 stars
8/07/00 Cam A bar and hot as hell chicks wearing tighter than hell clothing. Mushy subplot for the g/f 5 stars
8/06/00 The Rock Better than the other releases...a real surprise 4 stars
8/06/00 silas without seeing this movie you'll notice that its unoriginal and proprietary(sp?) bullshit 1 stars
8/06/00 bullit17 Formulaic and not very original. But still entertaining and VERY easy on the eyes 4 stars
8/06/00 clark move over Natalie, here comes PIPER! 5 stars
8/04/00 Pub Crawler Total shallow boring poorly-made poorly-acted not even any nudity. soft core bullshit 1 stars
8/04/00 TimmyToday And I quote: "Less artsy more fartsy." 2 stars
8/03/00 Jokko Coyote Stupid. Tyra has 2 mins. of screen time, BTW. John Goodman is quite good. 2 stars
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  04-Aug-2000 (PG-13)
  DVD: 07-Jun-2005


  01-Jan-2001 (M)

Directed by
  David McNally

Written by
  Gina Wendkos
  Kevin Smith

  Piper Perabo
  Adam Alexi-Malle
  Tyra Banks
  Maria Bello
  Adam Garcia

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