Reviewed by GREG KING
Director: David McNally
Stars: Piper Perabo, Adam Garcia, Maria Bello, John Goodman, Tyra Banks.
Producer Jerry Bruckheimer is better known for his big budget action movies (The Rock, Armageddon, etc), and, at first glance, this unashamedly trashy flick about an aspiring song writer who finds work pulling beers in a girl bar seems unlikely material. But Coyote Ugly contains plenty of the trademark Bruckheimer glossy touches, and is bound to be a crowd pleaser.
Violet Sanford (Piper Perabo) is an aspiring songwriter who leaves small town New jersey to make it big in New York. But the going is tough and, like so many before her, she finds the doors to major record labels closed to an unknown. After several knock backs, she finds temporary work pulling beers in a seedy bar. But Coyote Ugly is no ordinary bar! Run by the tough, no-nonsense Lil (Maria Bello), Coyote Ugly is a watering hole in which scantily clad bar maids strut along the bar, sassing the patrons, and occasionally drenching them with beer, water or ice to cool their rising ardour.
At first, Violet is uneasy with the demands of the job, but she soon handles herself with assurance, impressing Lil with her resourcefulness. But soon the demands of her job clash with her ambitions, forcing Violet to make a major decision about the direction of her life.
For the most part Coyote Ugly is a paper thin drama full of fleshy excesses and clichés about the struggle to achieve one’s ambition and dreams. However, some of the plot developments lack credibilty, but that hardly seems relevant here. Like most of Bruckheimer’s directors, first time feature director David McNally hails from a background in commercials, and he gives the material a suitably slick and glossy look. It’s all glossy, superficial stuff, with precious little substance, but McNally keeps things moving, accompanied by a soundtrack of country rock and pop that suits the material.
Most of the young cast perfectly capture the sense of desperation that drives their characters, eager to succeed in the city that never sleeps. Perabo is an engaging performer, who brings a mix of naive innocence and charm, but also a hint of toughness, to her performance. Aussie actor Adam Garcia (recently seen in Bootmen) has a charming presence and delivers a laconic performance as Kevin, Violet’s enigmatic boy friend, that will further enhance his prospects as the next big thing in Hollywood. Veteran John Goodman anchors the emotional demands of the movie with a sympathetic performance as Violet’s over protective father.
Flashy and trashy low brow exploitive stuff, Coyote Ugly is a sanitised Disney version of Flashdance, Showgirls and Striptease, crossed with an element of Cocktail. Somewhat surprisingly, the local censors have seen fit to give Coyote Ugly a PG rating!