Rated PG-13 - Running Time: 1:41 - Released 8/4/00

It's not often that a movie comes along as willingly empty of substance as Coyote Ugly. Written by Gina Wendkos and directed by freshman David McNally, it is bereft of style, character, or anything remotely resembling an interesting story, stuffed instead with boobs, butts, and a stomach-turning love story tacked uncomfortably onto the back end of its tight designer jeans.

Coyote Ugly stars the young, fresh-faced Julia Roberts lookalike Piper Perabo, recently seen cavorting with cartoon wildlife in The Adventures Of Rocky And Bullwinkle, as a small town girl who moves to New York City to become a songwriter, but, lacking an agent or the intestinal fortitude to audition for anybody, is forced to work at a sexist, exploitative bar where she rakes in the dough from a roomful of drooling, lecherous drunks dying to get in her pants. I'm not sure, in a city where actual strip bars and prostitutes are readily available, why a joint like Coyote Ugly would survive. Filled with pretty girls who dance but don't strip, regularly set the bar on fire, and dump ice on the customers, it would seem a fiscally risky venture at best; still, it appears to be the most popular watering hole in the Big Apple.

Against the wishes of her widowed father (John Goodman) and best friend (Melanie Lynskey), Violet (Perabo) leaves the comfort of South Amboy, New Jersey, to seek her fortune. Right away she meets a nice, unattached young man (Adam Garcia) who spends the rest of the movie romancing her, and gets a job at the aforementioned Ugly bar. It's almost unnecessary to mention her boss (Maria Bello) and co-workers (including Izabella Miko and supermodel Tyra Banks), because they really offer very little to the film other than butt-wiggling and whooping it up. But the love story between Perabo and Garcia is also not really worth mentioning, either, because it is so perfunctory it fails to cause the slightest emotional ripple. Not only is there no chemistry between these two, but the supposed "conflict" that arises between them is laughably trivial — stupid, really. So let's go to the obligatory my-father-doesn't-understand-me subplot. Nope, nothing there either. Goodman, good old reliable Goodman, who's showing up in all the best and worst films these days with reckless abandon, actually seems embarrassed to be seen here, and I don't blame him. His characterization as the toll booth attendant (you heard me), so dependent on his daughter that he doesn't even know how to wash his own socks, is way below anything I've ever seen him in. And the scene where he tearfully reveals the "big secret" about Violet's mother is nothing short of vomit-provoking, an after-school-special moment if there ever was one. I didn't know the man was capable of anything this bad.

Frankly, there's just no story here. And for those eager young lads who watched the trailer and thought there would at least be some decent T&A...sorry, fellas. Try Hollow Man.

Copyright 2000 by John R. McEwen and The Republican

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