Showgirls

As Twin Peaks returns to the delight and confusion of viewers, let’s look back on Kyle MacLachlan’s career lowlight. And I’m not talking about How I Met Your Mother.

Someone boil a kettle.

This 1995 stripper drama stars Elizabeth Berkley (Saved by the Bell) as Nomi, some sort of alien creature recently given human form, now prowling for Earth men to seduce and destroy.

Sorry, I got my notes mixed up with Under The Skin. Despite her name, Nomi is apparently a human woman, who heads to Las Vegas to make it as a dancer. She also happens to be about as relatable and grounded as her name suggests, lumbering Berkley with an impossible task; one that would have such a devastating effect on her career that nothing could save it, least of all a fucking bell.

The screenwriters make a bid for freedom.

MacLachlan’s is the only recognisable face, from numerous David Lynch projects. But you can forget about Mulholland Drive and its beautifully warped version of the ingénue-moves-to-the-big-city story. This is the most by-the-numbers, uninspired attempt imaginable. Think Staying Alive with boobs.

By throwing in as much toplessness as legally possible, director Paul Verhoeven and screenwriter Joe Eszterhas try to recapture the scandal of Basic Instinct. But for all its obsessive exposing of skin, it fails to expose a taboo industry, sensationally or otherwise. It’s less Boogie Nights, more Boobie Nights.

MacLachlan would later describe the film as “horrible.”

The only shock is how a film comprising 2+ hours of topless dancing could be so boring. You’ll be amazed how unsexy these stripping and sex scenes are. Because the characters are so shoddily written, you’re not watching people; you’re just watching meat. Like a dancing version of Hostel.

Setting a then-record for Razzie wins (and making Verhoeven the first director to accept the award in person), Slowgirls is too tedious to warrant its so-bad-its-good cult reputation. It’s just bad; all clichés, boobs and boredom. Imagine All About Eve as directed by Hugh Hefner.

With none of the fun of Magic Mike or Adam and Joe’s version Showtoys, this remains the only NC-17 movie to ever be given wide distribution. When an R-rated version was cut for the home video release, Verhoeven had his name removed. He shouldn’t have stopped there.

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