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Site created 12/15/97.

review added: 5/4/00

1995 (2000) - MGM/UA

review by Todd Doogan of The Digital Bits

Showgirls Film Rating: A+ (on the cult scale, C- for any other reason)

Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): B/A/C-

Specs and Features

131 mins, NC-17, letterboxed widescreen (2.35:1), single-sided, RSDL dual-layered (layer switch 1:04:34, at the start of chapter 20), featurette, theatrical trailer, booklet, film-themed menu screens, scene access (36 chapters), languages: English (DD 5.1), French and Spanish (DD 2.0), subtitles: French and Spanish, Closed Captioned

"Must be weird not having anyone come on you."

The best movie ever made is finally on DVD! Yes, that's right... Showgirls is on DVD where it belongs, and I couldn't be happier. I don't care one iota about nudity and sexual overtones in film - so my reasons for loving this film are not sexist in any way. I love Showgirls because of Elizabeth Berkley. Oh. My. God. She is the best thing to happen to mainstream films in such a long time. She has absolutely no idea what the hell she's doing in this film, and that makes it that much more epic. I honestly think that if they had actually found a competent actress for the role of Nomi, this film wouldn't be a cult hit and would have been just another film churned out by the Hollywood mill. Instead, Berkley lends this film that extra measure of cheese that it deserves. She makes it a cult classic.

Nomi is a young girl with a mysterious past, heading for the bright lights of Las Vegas. Through Berkley’s performance, we see that Nomi is a child-woman - a giggling schoolgirl with an impressive enough body to make it in a strip club. And that’s exactly where she earns her rent. No shame in that. It’s in the clubs where she hones her craft, by performing lapdances for paying customers. What's a lapdance you ask? In this movie, it's when a girl dances in front of you, takes off her clothes and then gyrates her pelvic bone atop the man's pelvic bone until he's satisfied somehow. Berkley is like a caged animal in these lapdances. Actually, she's pretty much a caged animal all throughout the film. Any-who... Nomi really wants to be a Vegas showgirl - one of them respectable strippers who can dance and entertain (think Broadway with silicone implants). So having made friends with a costume designer (this scene is so grand - we get to watch Berkley overact and "spasm" her anger while screeching like a monkey - worth buying this film for all by itself) she gets in and is discovered by the headlining dancer, Cristal (Gina Gershon). Cristal makes it her new life’s goal to raise Nomi up and start breaking her back down again. Gershon is actually very good in this role, and it just goes to prove that the only really bad thing in this film is Berkley.

So Nomi gets a spot and starts her climb. But she's not what she seems and Cristal isn't all that capable of tearing down her creation. At this point, Showgirls becomes an epic battle of the wills, where only one stripper/entertainer will be left standing... and the other will go crashing down the badly foreshadowed staircase that leads to the stage. Will Nomi make her dreams come true? Does Tono Stano know that MGM stole his photo "Sense" for the poster art (seen in the DVD jacket art above)? Is Kyle MacLachlan's hair in this film real? And if so, can I make mine do that?

Showgirls is one of those "so bad, it's good" films. But that's a rather misleading statement, because again, only Elizabeth Berkley is really bad (but she's plenty bad enough to make all the difference). She can't act in this film to save her life. She wants to, and you can tell... but it doesn't work. Maybe she's taken some lessons and things are working out for her now, but she pretty much sucked here. Still, it all works out for this film. You will have so much fun wondering what the hell she and the filmmakers where thinking, that the movie will blow on by and you might even want to give it another viewing (just to make sure Berkley really is as bad here as you thought the first time through). What can I say? I'm a sucker for cult flicks.

This is the unrated version of the film, and it's all the better for it. I didn't like the R rated version, only because a film like this NEEDS all the extra nudity, violence and stupidity it can get, to fully wallow in its "cultness". Showgirls is presented non-anamorphically, which is an insult to DVD fans. Why MGM lumped this in as a catalogue title boggles my noggin. The fact that it’s not a special edition is also just plain silly. Still, for what it is, it looks fine. The picture is good, even though there are times of questionable grain and along with some NTSC problems here and there. But the blacks have a solid contrast and the colors are very bright. The soundtrack is also top notch. This disc has a rich 5.1 soundfield worthy of any set of ears. They only extras on board are an electronic press kit and trailer along with the standard booklet. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll kiss 25 bucks goodbye.

Showgirls just has to be in everyone’s collection. You need to have this film, just so you can say, "Hey - I saw the worst frickin’ movie last night: Showgirls. Wanna see it?" You’ll have guests over every night. Gotta love that Elizabeth Berkley...

Todd Doogan
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