Movie Review: Coyote Ugly

By Erik Petersen
Movie Magazine International
“Coyote Ugly”, which tells the story of a struggling songwriter who moves to New York, was directed by David McNally. He makes his feature film debut here, having graduated from commercials where a director is forced to tell a story in thirty or sixty seconds. Boy is his pedigree stamped on this mutt. For example take the scene where Violet’s neighbor pounds on the door because she’s making too much noise. We then get a tight close-up as we see her singing, but as we slowly pull back we see she’s actually on the roof. Uhhh, yeah. Written by Gina Wendkos, I was surprised to learn there was actually a writer.

But forget the director and writer, they’re just pawns. After all this is a Jerry Bruckheimer production, the producer responsible for films like “Days of Thunder,” “Beverly Hills Cop,” and of course “Flash Dance.” With this guy it’s all about the Benjamins, big fat stacks of ‘em. As the saying goes, if I had his money I’d burn mine. But wow do his movies stink.

If you’ve seen the trailer then you know the real reason anyone is showing up at the theatre is for the whiskey slinging, bar dancing babes. The innocent looking Piper Perabo stars as would be songwriter Violet Sanford. John Goodman plays her cliché dad character. Uhh, hem, filling out the barmaid cast are Bridget Moynahan and Tyra Banks who, in possibly the least plausible plot point, is leaving the bar for law school. Then there’s Maria Bello from “E.R.” as the streetwise proprietor of the Coyote Ugly bar.

Unfortunately this movie pulls a major bait and switch. Running ads featuring the bodacious bar maids suckers you in but with a PG-13 rating you’re cheated out of any gratuitous sex and violence, so in the end all your left with is a limp story about a small town girl trying to make it in the big city. Boring.

My theory is that when Bruckheimer’s late partner Don Simpson was involved there was at least the potential for decadence. Simpson lived like a rock star and died like one, overweight and on the toilet. Without Simpson Bruckheimer wouldn’t even dare the famous strip scene in “Flash Dance” where Jen Beals removes her bra at the table. That’s how big the loss of Simpson was.

“Coyote Ugly” commits the unforgivable sin of being trash, but not good trash. Without the sex or violence all that’s left is a weak, cliché’ ridden film. If against my better judgement you go anyway, look for actor Bud Cort and a cameo from director Michael Bay as the photographer in the bar. I’m Erik Petersen for Movie Magazine.
More Information:
Coyote Ugly
USA - 2000