'Showgirls' Review: Should've Stayed In Vegas
Showgirls is bad. Holy cow. I like “so bad they’re bad movies.” This one time, I found fifteen dollars lying on the ground on my way to my girlfriend’s apartment. I lied; I hate “so bad they’re bad movies” because one stabbed my father when I was ten and made me watch. I used to have a rabbit that was adorable but she was a hell of a lot of trouble. My dad never got stabbed by a movie; I fibbed on that one, I’m sorry. TITS. Did I mention this is a terrible movie?
That’s the kind of experience you can expect from 1995’s Showgirls – a movie that has no sense of character, plot, pacing or just general humanity. This movie drove me nuts, and not in any of the ways it would’ve hoped.
The story, as I can loosely construct, follows Nomi (Elizabeth Berkley) as she drifts into Las Vegas, apparently on a whim. She meets up with Molly Abrams (Gina Ravera), who works as a costumer for a local hotel show. The show’s lead, Cristal (Gina Gershon), makes a crack about Nomi’s dancing style, since the drifter says she works for a local strip joint, although that’s clearly just a name she pulled out of thin air, because she only got in to town in the last few days. Except it’s not, because apparently Nomi DOES work at said strip joint, but only because it’s an excuse to dance. Eventually, she wows one of the head honchos at Cristal’s show, and gets to audition for the team. Nomi shoots through the ranks, trading hardships one moment with passion the next, until the fearsome face of envy drives her to devilish new heights.
On paper, it’s not so bad – sort of a proto-version of Black Swan, if you will, but with strippers. But it’s not that. The plot is completely unfocused, introducing wild and eccentric side-characters who never pay off. There’s superfluous dialogue everywhere that’s clearly meant to be the “heart” or the “theme” of the movie, but the movie’s “purpose” (if such a word can be attributed to this mess) shifts so fast, none of them can stick. Even half of the scenes that aren’t filled with go-nowhere characters or stupid thesis-speech are just overblown to the point of completely outliving their welcome. The main offender, in this case, is a litany of scenes showing off the infighting between two of the backup dancers. There’s at least three different scenes of these two women fighting with each other in the dressing room, threatening to rip the other’s head off or going full cat fight, all leading up to the moment when one causes the other to fall on stage, taking her out of the show for months. What did each of these “character bits” add to our understanding? That these two hate each other with a fiery passion – something we could discern the first fricking time they were clawing at each other over nothing!
And, gods, the acting! Berkley is unbelievable, boring, and childish; drug about by her desires and stupid impulses, no matter how much she bitches about the outcome later, despite someone always being there to warn her. Gershon proves herself to be the queen of bad acting in crappy, “sexy” movies, chewing the scenery and adding no lasting value more than a decade and a half before her turn in LOL. The only characters with even a modicum of worth are Glenn Plummer as James Smith, a wannabe dancer who drifts in like he’ll have something relevant to add to Nomi’s life and never does, and Kyle MacLachlan as the show’s director (I think?), Zach Carey. MacLachlan basically does a toned-down, de-powered version of his character in the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. show, which makes him fun to watch as he deftly flips between charming and lovable and just being a downright vicious asshole.
There’s so much more I could throw about this movie, but it’s really not worth any more of your or my time. I already spent over two hours screaming “WHY?!” at the screen, so I’d really just rather get on with my life. So let me try a different approach.
Feel better now? I sure don’t. It’s a wonder anyone thought this could drag anyone through a 130-minute runtime, because that’s about what you get from Showgirls: ineffectual titillation with no redeeming value.
Final Verdict: Skip It