Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

Largely considered one of the worst movies ever made is Dutch director Paul Verhoeven and screenwriter Joe Esterhaus’ ‘Showgirls’. Strangely enough I’ve never seen this movie, not actively avoiding it by any means, but for whatever reason, for the last sixteen years I’ve found other things to do with my time than watch this movie. And I have done some truly worthless and stupid stuff with my time in the last sixteen years. But my friends, I have come to the conclusion that this is an oversight that simply cannot be tolerated any longer… I mean how bad can it be? As it turns out ‘Showgirls’ was pretty a pretty damn bad movie, but I can also tell you it was never boring.

Nomi Malone, as played by the always lovely Elizabeth Berkley in a role she still hasn’t completely recovered from, is on her way to Las Vegas to become a dancing star. Nomi isn’t in Vegas for a minute when she gets robbed by an Elvis impersonator and then proceeds to freak out hysterically. If you haven’t seen this movie you might want to get used to Nomi reacting hysterically to the events in her life. Fortunately for Nomi she is rescued by the super sweet Molly (Gina Ravera) who takes her in and gives her shelter. Critical mistake number one in this movie: In a film filled with non-stop nudity, Gina Ravera who is arguably the hottest woman in this movie doesn’t get naked. The little minx teases us but doesn’t get naked. Critical. Mistake. Movie now officially sucks.

Molly the teasing minx works at The Stardust as a seamstress making pasties for nipples. The headliner of this show is the hot but aging Cristal Conners (Gina Gershon). Cristal with her southern drawl and penchant snorting anything that looks powdery is a true force of nature and it’s not long before she and Nomi clash. Actually Cristal pokes and Nomi reacts hysterically to being poked. Nonetheless it’s Cristal who gives Nomi her big break after watching in amazement as Nomi dry humps her boyfriend Zach (Kyle McLachlan) to completion while visiting Nomi at her stripper gig.

There’s other worthless nonsense that happens in this movie like Cristal falling down steps, Molly getting raped by this realities version of David Copperfield and a bunch of

other stupid nonsense, but let’s jump to the sex scene between Nomi and Zach. The coup de grace, the thing that earned this movie an NC-17 rating. Yes, this movie was ultimately crap and has rightly earned all of the derision it has received, however… Best. Sex Scene. Ever. True enough the scene between Zach and Nomi thrashing in the pool has no connection to any kind of sexual act that authentic humans might acutally engage in, but simply watching Nomi buck and thrash violently and gyrate hysterically with water flying all over the place was high comedy at its finest. Were Elizabeth Berkley and Kyle McLachlan really having sex during that scene, McLachlan would’ve had his member ripped clean off within seconds of that violent trash fest. It was awesome. More worthless stuff happens, roll credits.

Yes, ‘Showgirls’ was truly an awful film that has offered no intrinsic value to society outside of seeing a lot naked women, shot on some of the most expensive film stock available, but there were some benefits to this film. For starters this is the film that exposed Joe Esterhaus as a fraud. Mr. Esterhaus rode his limited ability to write straight to the bank for millions upon millions of dollars and that is envy worthy. Yes, Joe is completely unaware that he is limited talent wise and has a level of self importance that is almost dizzying, but he’s not bothering us much anymore and a lot of this is due to this film right here.

I’m trying to figure this movie out. You see this didn’t need to be nearly as bad as it was, mainly because of the guy directing it, but something was up. Take Elizabeth Berkley as the star of this movie. Yeah, the girl can’t act but Lord knows we wouldn’t want her replaced since finding someone who looked that good in combination with doing the stuff she did in this movie would’ve been difficult, but it looked like Verhoeven didn’t even try to direct her, instead just letting her do what she wanted to do and then retreating back to his trailer for some Johnny Walker neat. At some point during that hysterical sex scene you would’ve thought the director would’ve piped in with ‘Hey kid, bring it down a notch’. But no, he just let it go. Either Verhoeven gave up on this movie early in the process or he has just created a ‘crazy like a fox’ parody that was beyond everybody in back 1995.

And where was the editor? Basically any scene with Glenn Plummer in it should’ve been cut, and we like Glenn Plummer here at the FCU. You could actually do this yourself. Load a digital version of this movie on your Mac or PC, load up I-Movie or Movie Maker and cut out everything with Glenn Plummer in it. And if you watch your new edit, the movie will turn out exactly the same, you will lose none of this films structural integrity, and it will be twenty minutes shorter. It will still suck, but it will suck over a shorter time period.

Regardless, as bad as this movie might have been, most everybody survived it just fine. Gina Gershon immediately atoned for this by starring in ‘Bound’, Verhoeven quickly jumped to ‘Starship Troopers’ before heading back home to make excellent movies like ‘Black Book’, McLachlan and Plummer probably turn down enough work to keep a dozen actors employed and Gina Ravera is now teasing every week on ‘The Closer’. Elizabeth Berkley is the only real casualty of this mess of a movie, but even she stays employed.

And lastly, for whatever reason, Rena Riffel who played the slow witted character of Penny in this movie has taken upon herself to sequelize this movie with Penny in the lead and Riffel herself in the director’s chair. I kid you not. Look for ‘Showgirl’ in the year 2012. I’ll be sitting in the front row.

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