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Images from Showgirls
Verhoeven Quotes about Showgirls
Showgirls Facts and Trivia
Links to other Showgirls pages
Call it sleaze, but don't call it trash.
SHOWGIRLS NC-17 OFFENDO-METER:
Casual drug use -- Several instances.
Ah, Showgirls. The film that ruined Joe Eszterhas' career--not that he didn't deserve it--and put a serious crimp in Elizabeth Berkeley's. Although this is often called Verhoeven's worst film, it's my opinion that Hollow Man leaves it in the dust. However, whereas the latter showed promise and then bottomed out, Showgirls is bad all the way through. Bad enough to be funny. It's too fluffy to be taken seriously, despite the insistence of a friend of my ex-husband that the film is a "character study." Um, yeah right Carlos, whatever you say. I think it's a comedy.
Not that Verhoeven meant it as a comedy. Apparently, he took the script by Eszterhas seriously, and recruited Elizabeth Berkeley specifically for the part, with great hope that Showgirls would be some kind of commentary on... uh... something. Well, heck, even Larry Bird used to miss a foul shot occasionally. And after the runaway success of Basic Instinct, another collaboration must have seemed like a good idea. Still, I can't help but wonder what sort of subliminal devices Eszterhas was using on Verhoeven at script meetings. Tape recorder under the table? Dutch text subtly embedded among the English dialog? A surprise-from-behind prefrontal lobotomy? Only ol' Dirty Joe knows.
In some interviews, Verhoeven talks about how he misjudged American sensibilities and that perhaps American prudishness was part of the reason the film was unpopular. While accusing Americans of being ridiculously puritanical is valid, blaming those misplaced mores for the failure of the film is not. After all, Basic Instinct, which was equally "offensive," was a smash both in the U.S. and abroad. Just take a look at Showgirl's reviews on IMDb. There are people from such disparate places as Jamaica, Norway, Sweden, Greece, The UK, Australia, Portugal, and Lebanon trashing the flick. (It should be noted that reviewers in the former Soviet Union and, not surprisingly, France seem to harbor a special fondness for Showgirls.) Clearly the use of women's breasts as main characters could not be the one thing that offends so many different people. There is something else afoot here.
And of course the real problem with the movie is that it goes so far over the top it actually laps itself and enters middling territory. The acting is mediocre but not terrible. The character motivations are, for the most part, underwritten yet not so absent that the film is a plotless wonder. The violence and sex are not any worse than we've seen before, unless we've been raised in a nunnery with no cable TV. The dialog is repetitive, bordering on banal--count how many times Nomi utters the annoying phrase "It doesn't suck." A selfish, spastic antagonist-as-protagonist serves as our main character. Ugly wigs reminiscent of road kill litter the heads of the dancers. And to frame it all, we're given a klepto wanna-be Elvis in a pickup truck. I'm sure this has deep meaning in the mind of Joe Eszterhas, but to most of us it's semi-amusing at best and stupid at worst.
Yes, there is satire in the film, but unlike Starship Troopers it doesn't cut deep enough to be a saving grace; it just seems silly. Troopers is very obviously about something larger than itself. Showgirls is about Nomi being a very naughty girl learning a very little lesson, and if there's a lot more to the plot than that I just can't see it. We don't know much more about Nomi at the end of the movie than we did at the beginning.
Frankly, Showgirls is not bad or bold enough to hate, and really I think that's what had people pissed off when it first came out. They needed it to be beyond redemption in some way, so that they could wave their [insert entry from offendo-meter here] activism flags with pride. Well, if you can honestly get offended by anything in this movie, you are either: 1) A hardcore puritan from the seventeenth century; 2) A selfish, spastic ex-hooker from "lots of places" with a rap sheet and a pseudo-symbolic pseudonym who is trying to claw her way to the top in the unforgiving underbelly of Las Vegas, or; 3) Boring. Also, I bet you've never watched Cinemax, because you can find way more shocking/offensive stuff on there any time after 11PM.
So is it sleazy trash? Here is my personal opinion...
Whatever you might think of it on a personal level, Showgirls is high quality entertainment, and I am not employing Verhoevenesque irony when I say that. The film looks terrific, at least on DVD. From the eye candy perspective there is never a dull moment. The story, although fairly predictable and more than a little ridiculous, does zip right along. And while Elizabeth Berkeley is never going to be a Shakespearean actress, Verhoeven gets a lot more out of her than the folks over at "Saved by the Bell" ever did. (I love the way she mispronounces Versace.) This is sort of like a high-quality Skinemax production... I mean, heck, it's even got Robert Davi in a supporting role as a strip club manager. What's not to love?
My final verdict? Watch this if you like bad movies, or you are a horny guy who wants to see lots of naked women or sex in a swimming pool. Otherwise stay far away, because I can pretty much guarantee you'll think it's sleazy trash.
|These pictures are from the "making of" featurette on the DVD. They focus on Verhoeven and the making of the film. There are other places to get pics from the movie itself, so if that's what you're looking for, check the links section at the bottom of this page.|
Showgirls Screen Captures
DVD Cover Art
"Nomi is an independent girl. She is opportunistic, she is manipulative, but she is a girl who wants to achieve certain goals. And she is willing to go anywhere to achieve that."
"We wanted to created something which had a kind of a vagrant feeling."
"It's of course a complete extravaganza."
(Preceding quotes from the "making of" featurette on the Showgirls DVD)
"Joe and I agreed that we would only consider making Showgirls if we could find a company willing to accept an NC-17 rating for a film that would cost between 30-40 million dollars."
(From the Showgirls DVD insert)
Showgirls was released with an NC-17 rating. It was the first time that rating was written into a director's contract.
Joe and Paul researched the film by spending time in strip clubs and casinos in Las Vegas.
Verhoeven did not know lap dancing existed before researching for Showgirls.
The casino/stage sets were built in the Horizon Casino in Lake Tahoe.
William Shockley, who played the musician/rapist, also appeared in Robocop.
Showgirls won seven Razzie awards, including Worst Director. Verhoeven showed up to claim his award and remained the only nominee ever to do so until Tom Greene showed up in 2002 to collect his prizes for Freddy Got Fingered. Paul received a standing ovation.
Links to other Showgirls pages
Showgirls Website This is a site promoting the home video release of the movie. It's... well... you just have to go look. It's really funny. There is even a section about the Razzies. MGM must have forgotten that this was on their servers because as we know they have no sense of humor anymore. (Goldmember.) I really think no one knows it's there, because they also have another page selling the Showgirls DVD that doesn't mention this one at all...
MGM - Showgirls Here is the second MGM Showgirls page. There are some stills from the film (including a couple with Verhoeven) but not much else. Well, except for a decent-sized jpg of a somewhat amusing promo poster.
Showgirls (dk) This well done fan site has all sorts of stuff from the movie... interviews, pictures, quotes, reviews, etc. It hasn't been updated since 1997, so you'd better go have a look before it disappears.
Hot Showgirls Haikus A whole page full of Showgirls 5-7-5 verse. Hey, I don't make this stuff up, folks.
Jabootu's Bad Movie Dimension: Showgirls Review A typical review.
Showgirls on Rotten Tomatoes More reviews. It has a 5% fresh reading, but I think we could improve on that. Come on, let's go for 4%!
Roger Ebert review I like to list Ebert's reviews, because he picks the bad AND good out of every movie (or he used to, anyway). He actually gives Showgirls 2/4 stars.
Showgirls (kak.net) This is in Swedish or Danish or something. There are lots of pics.
IMDb: Showgirls Read about the movie on the Internet Movie Database, where it has received a stunning 3.7/10 rating.
The Paul Verhoeven Fan Page