[Moving picture of popcorn]

Laramie Movie Scope:
Coyote Ugly

The 100-minute wet t-shirt contest

[Strip of film rule]
by Robert Roten, Film Critic
[Strip of film rule]

August 25, 2000 -- "Coyote Ugly" is one of those musical romantic comedies that probably looked good on paper, but in practice it is just a 100-minute wet t-shirt contest.

Set against the backdrop of a mythical New York nightclub where the waitresses set fire to the bar and then dance on it, we have a romance between Kevin O'Donnel (played by an Aussie named Adam Garcia), a guy working numerous jobs, and an aspiring young songwriter, Violet Sanford (played by Piper Perabo of "The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle"). She's from way over there in New Jersey, where her dad, William Sanford (John Goodman), works in a toll booth.

Perabo looks like the sweetest young thing you ever saw. This girl looks great on the screen, just a wonderful screen presence. She lights it up when she's in a scene. It is an example of perfect casting. Tyra Banks is also in the cast, but her role, unfortunately, is limited. LeAnn Rimes, the country western singer also appears in a cameo performance. Yes, there is country western music in this movie. I guess where you find coyotes you find country western music.

The story is, basically, girl meets guy, they get close, have a misunderstanding, break up and get back together. In case you were wondering, it has been done before. Oh yeah, Violet Sanford has to overcome stage fright. Some suspense there. Perabo's Polyanna act is somewhat offset by the more earthy O'Donnel character, an immigrant existing on the fringes of society, working odd jobs to get by. Garcia has some charm to go with his good looks.

The mob-like bar scene, complete with its glitzy bar-top theatrical numbers, looks like it was filmed on another planet. I guess the the bar is supposed to be popular because the beautiful waitresses dance on top of the bar. When Violet's father comes to the bar and sees what is going on, he is ashamed of his daughter, and you really can't blame him. This really isn't much different than a strip club. The bar doesn't have much else going for it. The only drinks it serves, according to house rules, are brews, shots and double shots. No mixed drinks, no water. Makes it easy to be bartender, but it's a mighty dull selection of drinks.

The owner of the bar, Lil (Maria Bello of "E.R.") is supposed to be this wise, tough, motherly type who cares about her girls. Bello wasn't convincing. She seemed to be posturing and she wasn't consistent. Even the usually-reliable John Goodman seemed out of his element here, until the final scene when he finally gets to let it all hang out. That's about the only time in the film when it looks like someone's actually having fun.

It is just too much effort. The film doesn't have enough style, enough grace, to match similar films like "Dirty Dancing," or "Flashdance." It doesn't have the knock-your-socks-off dance number or song to make it rise above the average movie. What it does have is a nice little romance, a little bit of comedy and drama and some so-so music and dancing. It rates a C.

Click here for links to places to buy this movie in video and/or DVD format, the soundtrack, books, even used videos, games and lots of other stuff. I suggest you shop at least two of these places before buying anything. Prices seem to vary continuously. For more information on this film, click on this link to The Internet Movie Database. Type in the name of the movie in the search box and press enter. You will be able to find background information on the film, the actors, and links to much more information.

[Strip of film rule]
Copyright © 2000 Robert Roten. All rights reserved.
Reproduced with the permission of the copyright holder.
[Strip of film rule]
Back to the Laramie Movie Scope index.
[Rule made of Seventh Seal sillouettes]

Robert Roten can be reached via e-mail at my last name at lariat dot org. [Mailer button: image of letter and envelope]

(If you e-mail me with a question about this or any other movie or review, please mention the name of the movie you are asking the question about, otherwise I may have no way of knowing which film you are referring to)