Combustible Celluloid
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With: Elizabeth Berkeley, Gina Gershon, Kyle MacLachlan, Glenn Plummer, Robert Davi, Alan Rachins, Gina Ravera
Written by: Joe Eszterhas
Directed by: Paul Verhoeven
MPAA Rating: NC-17
Running Time: 131
Date: 09/21/1995

Showgirls (1995)

1 Star (out of 4)

Pole Positions

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Here's a conundrum: Showgirls (1995) has become a beloved cult classic, but can any members of the cult offer anything in its defense? On paper, Showgirls looks like an exciting combination, a camp classic in its prime. It features a screenplay by Joe Eszterhas (Basic Instinct), who might have been the most viciously horrible, sexist writer the movies have ever seen, but also possesses a singular voice unlike any screenwriter since Edward D. Wood, Jr.

Along for the ride is director Paul Verhoeven, the fearless maven of sleaze, ready and willing to take his films one step further than a typical Hollywood creampuff would dare.

Still the film emerges as a plastic, awkward mess without a hint of eroticism or genuine sexuality (not unlike Jerry Bruckheimer's Coyote Ugly). In the lead role as the girl who comes to Vegas with stars in her eyes, Elizabeth Berkeley appears as a Barbie statue with eyes and lips painted on; she has no humanity and no allure. Only Gina Gershon comes through with any grace, turning in an oversized, twangy performance worthy of the material.

But what brings the whole enterprise crashing down is an absolutely brutal, totally gratuitous rape scene. It's reprehensible that such a thing should be part of an otherwise laughably awful crowd-pleaser.

In 2004, MGM/UA also released Showgirls in a VIP Limited Edition. A Blu-Ray followed in 2010.

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