This summer, we are counting down our 25 favorite movies that didn’t connect with audiences on their initial release! View the whole series here.
3. Showgirls (dir. Paul Verhoeven, 1995)
I often wonder if the genius of Showgirls lies in its ability to polarize an audience. I love pop culture “trash” and I love Las Vegas. It’s my favorite place. Losers parading around as successes. I’m rarely interested in prestige pictures and I’d rather see something take a big chance and fail spectacularly than stay the boring course. Showgirls takes all the swings. Between the thrusting we thought was sexy in the 90’s and performances spanning from strained (poor Elizabeth Berkley) and sickening (Gina Gershon eats every scene she’s in) it’s a wildly uneven 2 hours. But maybe that’s the point. Nomi isn’t any good, that’s why she cheats to get ahead. The ONLY nice person in the entire movie gets brutalized. The bad people constantly win. They are corrupt, they are connivers, and they are assholes.
The reason this film works for a lot of people is because it has become something beyond what it was intended to be. I do believe the cast and crew intended to create some sort of biting commentary on the unreal expectations show business puts on women looking for stardom in seedy nightclubs and strip clubs. The fact that the movie stays so serious and SO earnest in this “mission” is what makes it so hilarious. If anybody on set went into the project with the mission being “camp” it never would have worked. Camp succeeds when it’s earnest. It makes the viewer sit back and say “this CAN’T be serious” and allows the film to work as a piece to be laughed with, even if you’re laughing at it.
The reason this movie doesn’t work for some? The drama of the piece is pretty difficult to be invested in. The dialogue is wildly stilted. The ONLY good character in the film (Molly, played by Gina Ravera) gets BRUTALIZED. The movie isn’t sexy. At all. Oh, and the marketing is questionable at best. They tried to sell the movie to women by saying it was an honest portrayal of injustices girls on the Vegas strip… but at the same time they were trying to sell it as a cheap sexploitation film.
Did they succeed with either? Questionable
I’ve seen this movie a number of times now and I just let it wash over me. It requires no brain power to participate as an audience member. And honestly? Often that’s the best way to experience film.
I love this movie because it requires no work on my end.
Hollywood. Gotta love it.
Re-post from Cinema76.com