In 1983, producer and antichrist Jerry Bruckheimer scored one of his first major successes with Flashdance, a painfully earnest drama with a working-girl-chases-her-dreams storyline that felt quaint even in its day. But if Flashdance's plot seemed anachronistic in '83, it feels downright antiquated when dusted off for Coyote Ugly, a drama that doesn't so much exploit hoary conventions and unconvincing parental conflicts as treat them like manna from heaven. Coyote Ugly stars the doe-eyed Piper Perabo as a stage-fright-stricken small-town gal who travels to New York to make it as a songwriter. After encountering such nasty big-city folk as a receptionist who inconceivably refuses to pass on her songs to "Whitney or Mariah," Perabo secures employment at the titular establishment, a bar that's equal parts strip club, Vegas floorshow, watering hole, and secular cult. At first, Perabo has a difficult time keeping up with her supermodel-attractive coworkers (including supermodel Tyra Banks), who writhe about seductively on the bar when not pouring water on each other's heaving bosoms or hosing off rowdy male customers. Though initially too shy to behave like a glorified lap dancer, Perabo is soon dry-humping the top of the bar and simulating lipstick lesbianism with the best of them, in the process learning to believe in both herself and her music. Only in a Bruckheimer movie could writhing seductively while decked out in upscale hooker-wear for the benefit of drunken businessmen be viewed as an act of life-changing empowerment, but it's this shameless lack of self-consciousness that makes Coyote Ugly such a guilty pleasure. If it had any dignity or conception of its own transcendent stupidity, it wouldn't be nearly as entertaining. Thankfully, it's performed, written, and directed with enough misplaced conviction to make it an instant camp classic. It's Hollywood hack filmmaking at its unintentionally hilarious best.
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