MGM // 1995 // 131 Minutes // Rated NC-17
Reviewed by Judge Patrick Naugle // August 30th, 2004
"You lose all of your money, honey? Do you wanna make some more? It won't take you any longer than 15 minutes. Sooner or later you're gonna have to sell it." -- Sage advice from director's Paul Verhoeven's Showgirls
There is a small town in the Central Africa Republic where people lead, I presume, simple, productive lives. This town, affectionately named Kaga-Bandoro, houses many different types of people. Their lives are filled with joys and sorrows, each neighbor caring for the other in a display of love and gratitude hardly seen in Western culture. Like any other city there is crime, but it's at a minimum in Kaga-Bandoro -- these are the kind of people that want only to survive, plying their trades as farmers and merchants in a climate considered uniformly harsh. In the hub of this city, there is a desire to stay connected to a past rich with tradition, values, and integrity.
Before I continued with a review about big-breasted dancers and high-class Las Vegas sleazebags fighting, swearing at, and raping each other, I wanted to know that I at least made an attempt at something educational and enlightening. Now that I've got that out of the way...
MGM presents a brand spanking (pun intended) new edition of Showgirls on DVD. Put the kids to bed, turn the lights down low, and leave your inhibitions at the door, because the show is about to begin.
ME-ow! It's the catfight to end all catfights as Nomi (Elizabeth Berkley, in a role that must be seen to be believed), a drifter heading into Las Vegas, attempts to make it as a Stardust showgirl amongst the sex, glitter, fashion, and backstabbing of Sin City. At first, Nomi works at a low-rent strip club run by the prickly Al Torres (Robert Davi, The Goonies) but quickly moves up the ladder of success when she gets an audition at the Stardust to be in the hottest show in town. But Nomi isn't content to be just a background dancer -- she wants center stage and will do anything to achieve that position! Her rival is Cristal Conners (Gina Gershon, Bound), the Stardust's hot star and an all-around conniving bitch. In the midst of Nomi and Cristal's rivalry is enough bile, anger, sexuality, evil, and make-up to choke a thoroughbred horse. Will Nomi make it to the top spot in Las Vegas? Will she ever find peace in her soul and the love of her life? And does any of this really matter when over 94% of the cast is nekkid for 97% of the film's run time?
All right, I wanna say something before I start talking about Showgirls. In this review, I'm going to be writing about a lot of naughty things and parts. I'll be talking in depth about breasts, sex, strippers, hookers, and stuff like that. Please do me a favor and take a moment to giggle like a Catholic schoolgirl.
Okay, is that all out of your system now? Let's continue.
It says something about a movie when it's rated NC-17, yet still couldn't arouse a 16-year-old boy. There is a strange phenomenon that happens when one watches Showgirls: you see past all the tantalizing flesh, lip gloss, and jiggle and finally stare directly into the heart of cinematic darkness. This movie defies description. The cast, the story, the dialogue -- this is what bad movies are all about. And Showgirls is most likely going to reign forever and ever as the queen of trashy cinema, amen.
Showgirls is a film filled with naked, shimmering women dancing on-stage, screwing in pools, licking each other, licking their boobs, licking themselves, licking dance poles, rubbing their crotches, rubbing each other's crotches, rubbing their tongues as they're licking each other's crotches and poles, and touching each other and themselves more often than college wrestlers at an all-state championship. There's a lot of touching and licking going on in this movie. In fact, I'm thinking about touching myself right now.
If you recall, Showgirls was one of the first adult-oriented NC-17 movies to hit major theater chains. The film was touted as a drama but ended up as one of most beloved cult-classics of our generation. Showgirls is a movie that was made to be mocked -- it's like Battlefield Earth with huge mammary melons in place of alien explosions.
I think the best way to discuss Showgirls -- as well as its impact on you, me, our nation, this society, and quite possibly the entire known universe -- is that we should talk about the major players who made this Thanksgiving turkey:
First and foremost we must give praise and thanks to Elizabeth Berkley for making one of the worst career choices ever, second only to O.J. Simpson. In the commentary track for the film, David Schmader notes that Nomi is a "monster," a statement I can hardly argue. Berkley made a grand total of $100,000 for her role in the film, enough to hopefully buy her a new chin, nose, lips, and body, as I can't image she ever wants to be recognized again. Berkley plays Nomi as a woman who is seriously disturbed in just about every area of her life. When someone attempts civility, she flies off in a damning rage. When Nomi has sex, she flails about like a diabetic looking for insulin. When she dances, she makes Ed Grimly look like Fred Astaire. It's a performance for the ages, and one that will never, ever be forgotten. Oh yeah, and I almost forgot: she does most of it in the nude. That's right, for many scenes Berkley shamelessly prances around in her birthday suit, caressing her body as if to say, "My &#$@ is so #*$^@$ing hot and wet that I just had to take this &$^@% role and show it to everyone!" It's a good thing she wasn't nominated for an Oscar; had she won, I can only imagine what she would have done with that long, hard statue (if you know what I mean, and I think you do). And don't even get me started on any Saved by the Bell jokes.
Anyone else get the idea that this guy likes a little pistol-whippin' when he's getting his freak on? Verhoeven is the mind behind such great action flicks like Robocop and Total Recall. He's also the same guy who introduced the world to Sharon Stone in Basic Instinct, and for that I will never forgive him. What made him want to direct a movie as trashy as this? My best guess is the chance to watch hot women bump-n-grind against each other while other naked women dance around them. Hey, wouldn't you direct a movie like this for a chance like that? I'll bet you didn't know that in Dutch, the word "Verhoeven" actually means "creepy old man who enjoys high class porn."
Ah yes, Ms. Gershon. Now here's a high-class woman. Sporting a mouth that stretches further than the San Andreas Fault line and teeth that would make an industrial nutcracker nervous, Gershon is the breathing essence of bitchy tackiness. Gershon parades around the screen as if she's got a 2x4 wedged up her fanny and has refused to pull it out. Why did an actress like Gershon take a role in a film like Showgirls? I'm not sure, but the fact that Gershon has said she'd love to run Playboy magazine should give us a few hints. Little known fact: Gershon's favorite TV program is Touched by an Angel.
Joe Eszterhas is the man behind the screenplay of Showgirls. Here is a serious candidate for electro-shock therapy. Apparently, Eszterhas thinks (or at least prays) that women really talk like they do in Showgirls. Joe is a scary looking man (don't believe me? Look at Joe's photo. Doesn't that just tell you everything you need to know about this guy?)
Yes, those are the people you can point fingers at for making Showgirls, a film that will go down in history as the "most rented film by guys too embarrassed to rent real porn." It's most likely we'll never see another movie like Showgirls again -- a movie with such total disregard for humanity, beauty, and all things that are right with the world. The good news is that the film is so laughably bad that we can mock it in good conscience and still be able to sleep at night. Let the laughter commence.
Showgirls is presented in 2.35:1 widescreen. This transfer is automatically better than the previous release because it's been anamorphically enhanced for 16x9 TV sets. Otherwise, MGM has made sure that this is a very sharp looking picture -- the colors (including lots and lots and lots and lots and lots and lots and lots and lots and lots of flesh tones) are all well rendered without any bleeding in the images. The blacks appear to be solid and dark. Hey, the picture is so realistic, it'll be like you're at a real live Las Vegas strip club, minus those annoying crabs!
The soundtrack is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround in English. Thrill to every single woman on screen screaming in anger that she didn't ace her audition! Cheer as you hear Nomi makes love in a pool like a dying epileptic dolphin on crack! Ignite with passion as your ears echo with the sound of flapping pasties in the wind! Yes, it's all here in Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround! Overall, this is a decent soundtrack with a fair amount of directional effects in both the front and rear speakers. All aspects of the mix are free of any major hiss or distortion, save for Elizabeth Berkley's acting style. Also included on this disc are English, French, and Spanish subtitles, as well as French and Spanish Stereo Surround sound mixes.
Ah, such rewards you'll reap when you peruse through Showgirls's supplemental materials. Though it's disappointing that nobody from the actual production showed up to offer their insights on the film (last I heard, half of the crew had gone into the witness protection program somewhere in Guam), MGM has included a few fun goodies to whet your...appetite. You thought I was going to say something else, didn't you? Get your mind out of the gutter, you pervert.
Starting off the disc is a commentary track by David Schmader, a man who claims to have watched the film more than anyone else on the planet. His brazen disregard for taste is hysterical -- watch him mock everything happening on-screen, even the moments that are supposed to fill our eyes with sympathetic tears. While this commentary doesn't really offer any insightful details on the production...well, so what? Do you really care what it took to bring this movie to the screen? This track is worth a list if you want to laugh harder at the movie than you did upon your first viewing. Also included is a video commentary by the world famous girls of Scores commenting on the strip club scenes. Oh-la-la!
Next up are those wacky Scores ladies teaching you how to successfully give your partner a lap dance. Oh, so that's how you do it. I was doing it all wrong...
Finally there is a storyboard-to-screen featurette titled "A Showgirls Diary" with some footage behind-the-scenes on the film, a trivia track with information about the film, and a theatrical trailer for the film.
And if you think all you get with this Showgirls package is a DVD...think again! The film comes complete in its own swanky case that includes a deck of Showgirls playing cards, two shot glasses with the Showgirls emblem on each, a blindfold (my parents wouldn't get me one last year for Christmas, so I'm happy to have this one), game cards for those of you who like to play "naughty," and a large poster of Elizabeth Berkley naked plus two sucker cup boob pasties for your own game of "pin the titty-cup on the tramp" game.
I feel dirty. Oh so dirty...
Like you need any more encouragement to rent this movie?
Review content copyright © 2004 Patrick Naugle; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2013 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* Golden Gavel 2004 Nominee
* 2.35:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (French)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (Spanish)
Running Time: 131 Minutes
Release Year: 1995
MPAA Rating: Rated NC-17
* Commentary Tracks by David Schmader and the Girls of Scores
* Lap Dance Tutorial
* Trivia Track
* "A Showgirls Diary" Featurette
* Original Theatrical Trailer
* Poster Game
* Game Cards
* Two Shot Glasses
* Playing Cards