Friday, May 30, 2014

A Ghoul Versus Showgirls (Part 2)

Click here for Part One!

But this is still Showgirls, so we have to take things too far as he starts berating Nomi because her nipples don't stick out far enough and this is the part where I point out Eszterhas was paid ALMOST FOUR MILLION DOLLARS to write this movie. And this was back in the early 90s when Hollywood budgets weren't the insanity-laced trainwrecks they are today.

Nomi finally has enough of Tony's asshole-dom, so she STORMS OFF back into the dressing room where she runs into Cristal, who was watching the entire audition. Nomi tells Cristal that she hates her, to which Cristal responds “I know”. Not quite Han and Leia, is it?  Nomi leaves the hotel, where she just happens to bump into Plummer who is now working there as a bellhop. Good God, this guy is like Lois Lane in Man Of Steel, able to appear wherever the plot needs me for lazy convenience in a single bound.  Nomi tells him she just auditioned to be a showgirl, and he unintentionally sums up how totally moronic the entire plot for this movie really is:

“You don't want to be in this kind of show. What you're doing, at least it's honest. They want tits and ass, you give them tits and ass. Here, they pretend they want something else, and you still show them tits and ass.”

Really, how am I supposed to follow that?

Plummer's boss tells him to quit yapping at Nomi and get back to work, but Plummer tells him off and quits. He takes Nomi out on the town, and apparently she's into him not based off his inability to hold a job. He takes her to his place where he reveals he's written a song and a routine for her, wanting her to perform it with him at a club.  The practice dance moves, which ends up in them making out. Keeping in the theme of the ABSOLUTE CLASS this movie displays, he finds out she's on her period the hard way. NEARLY FOUR MILLION DOLLARS. This doesn't bother him because, oh God, he “has towels”. This causes Nomi to STORM OFF, telling him he can fuck her when he loves her.

Nomi arrives home to find out she got the job in the show, which naturally delights her. She quits her job at the Cheetah and then goes back to Plummer to tell him the good news, but sees Hope is in his bed. Plummer tries to talk his way out of it by dissing Hope, but Nomi isn't having it and STORMS OFF. Hope asks what that was about, Plummer dissing Nomi which pretty much the exact same words he said about Hope.

This is a scene that also pretty much sums up the entire movie for me, as well as being more classic Eszterhas: almost everyone is just a monstrous asshole that lies and uses anyone who believes in them. In the hands of a better writer they really could have made that “morality tale” Eszterhas claimed this was going to be, but here it's just an endless parade of vile characters that disgust you. Although I suppose this is another reason this movie has stuck around so long, as a lot of people take this as an indictment of Hollywood. Which is fine, but I've never really been a fan of being told what I already know over and over and over again in movie form.

She goes to meet with Tony and his assistants, wearing the dress she bought earlier in the movie. They compliment her on it, prompting her to say she bought it at Ver-SAY-sss, which causes everyone to look at each other and smirk. She gets a tour of the hotel and then is taken to HR to fill out her personal information. She is very evasive about information on herself, which is a running theme throughout the film where she refuses to talk about herself. Could this mean there's a female character in an Eszterhas script with a shady past?! GASP!

After this she bumps into Zack and Phil, who also complement her dress. She says its name wrong again, Zack correcting her on the pronunciation She looks briefly mad at herself for appearing so stupid, but oddly doesn't YELL at herself, CRY, or STORM OUT. Weird! And thus ends the ONLY real setup/payoff in the entire film. On a joke that was dated by 1950.  Cut to the night of her first show, as everyone gets their make up on. The movie takes a quick smoke break so the cast of the inevitable Curious George live action movie can run through for some WAY out of left field slapstick comedy. Yeah, I have no idea either. We also meet two dancers named Angie and Julie, who hate each others guts and nearly start punching each other before getting broken up.

After a rough start, the show goes great for Nomi. Well, as great as a show this bad can be. After the show she finds Plummer waiting for her and he offers a heartfelt apology for his actions earlier in the movie. Ha hah, just kidding! Listen to this shit:

“I have a problem with pussy. I always have, I'm always gonna.”

Eszterhas wrote the idea for Showgirls on a napkin and was advanced nearly two million dollars for it. I want you to think about that. REALLY think about that, especially next time you go to cash your paycheck for a hard week's worth of work.  The next day Cristal takes Nomi out for lunch, where they bond over the shared love they had for... eating dog food when they were younger? Mmm. They start flirting with each, Cristal saying they're both whores but Nomi takes great offense to this which has been a running bit through the film. I find it odd she flies off the handle whenever someone calls her a whore, it's almost like that's supposed to hint at... nah, I'm sure they wouldn't do that. They do the good ol' “You're just like me/I'll NEVER be like you” bit and bloody hell am I bored at this point.

They go back to the hotel to practice dancing, but instead Cristal takes off Nomi's shirt and tries to kiss her. She calls Nomi a whore again, which causes Nomi to (sing along if you know the words!) YELL at her and STORM OFF.  Fun fact: the DVD VIP Edition of this movie came with shot glasses so you could make your own drinking game. There's a disclaimer in the box they're for “non-alcoholic beverages”, which is about the funniest thing EVER.  Later, Cristal sets up Nomi with a gig representing the hotel at a boat show, to which Nomi learns she's expected to sleep with Phil and one of the hotel's most prestigious clients. She... already? Come on let's mix it up a bit, I haven't seen Nomi cry in ages! She YELLS at Phil and STORMS OFF.

She goes to the hotel to talk to Zack, who is the only person at the hotel to be nice to her. She tells him what happened, so he calls down Phil and lays into him, threatening to fire him if he pulls anything like that again. Zack makes him apologize to Nomi, then kicks him out. Nomi is deeply moved by Zack's actions, about to kiss him when she realizes it's showtime and rushes off. Once she's safely out of earshot, Zack calls up Phil and starts joking around with him as that whole thing was just a show to fool Nomi.

This is where the film make its biggest misstep, which is REALLY saying something when basically everything in it is a misstep. Do you like Nomi? Do you care what happens to Nomi? What has she done to endear herself to you? ...oh, you don't say? So if Zack uses her like Shake 'N Bake, you don't give a single iota of a damn? Ok, just checking.  During the next show, Julie throws some beads on the floor that causes the male dancer carrying Angie to drop her and break her leg. Nomi witnesses this, but says nothing. She looks a little disgusted at Julie's actions, but Angie was such an awful person in the first place it's hard to imagine anyone would care what happened to her.

We get another bizarre scene as Al comes to visit Nomi, telling her how good she was in the show while more heartwarming music plays. It's almost touching as he wishes her good luck until you realize they had no previous relationship whatsoever to set up this kind of scene. Oh, and as he leaves he tells her that it must be weird not having anybody come on her anymore. WHAT.  Nomi and Zack end up going to his place and end up having that weird flopping like a fish sex in his private pool. It is TRULY one of the funniest things of all time, as it looks like she's having a massive seizure while he tries to hold onto her. People make fun of the acting in this movie (rightfully so), but these two should have gotten Academy Award nominations for NOT laughing during this scene.

The morning after he tells her she should audition to take Angie's place as Cristal's new understudy. Nomi thinks this is a good idea, doing some cocaine after turning it down the entire movie. How can a character begin a descent into darkness when they were already dark to begin with? Dammit Joe Eszterhas, I'm asking you a question! HOW?!  Forget it! At the audition Julie does the best performance, but Zack picks Nomi which pisses everyone off because they know his motivations for picking her. Especially Cristal, who deduces they've already slept together.

Nomi finds a flier for Plummer's upcoming show stuck in her dressing room mirror. She goes to see it, and it is just terrible with the audience booing like crazy. She finds out Plummer is now engaged to Hope, who is pregnant. He's giving up on his dreams to work at a grocery store, and once again we have a completely out of place scene in this movie. This is played up like it's supposed to be sad, but we've already established Plummer is an asshole so WE DON'T CARE that he can't be a dancer now.  Nomi returns to the hotel so we can have the second straight scene of her finding a crucial piece of information stuck in her mirror. This time it's a letter telling her she's no longer the understudy for Cristal. She STORMS OFF to go YELL at Zack, and this was awesome because they finally mixed things up a bit!

They do the next show which is a messed up vampire/biker thing, Cristal likely sealing her fate when she trips Nomi during their dance. As they go down the stairs to the dressing room, Nomi shoves her down the stairs hard and injures her. Everyone asks what happened, and Nomi replies she must have slipped. Julie backs up her story, since Nomi didn't rat her out earlier.  Nomi watches outside as the ambulance takes Cristal away, another maliciously evil look on her face. If they ever make a female version of the Joker in a future Batman reboot, I'd say we've found our star. All joking aside, this shot is FREAKING AWESOME and really makes you wonder what this movie could have been if they actually had tried to be serious.

Nomi kills in her first performance as star of the show, getting her own press conference. Afterward Molly confronts her about pushing Cristal, but she denies it. Nomi invites Molly to a party Zack is throwing where Andrew Carver will be attending, but Molly ignores her STORMS OFF. Nomi pulls out a pistol and shoots her because that's HER gimmick, dammit.  But Molly goes to the party anyway, because ZOMG Andrew Carver is totes a hottie with his panty-dropping smile! Julie sucks up to Nomi, asking if she can be her understudy. I never got this, Julie should be more pissed at Nomi than anyone because she rightfully should be the star of the show. She should have hung Nomi out to try and- oh, am I doing it again? Sorry.

Zack introduces Nomi to Andrew, who promptly establishes what kind of man he is by whispering in her ear that he likes her ass and she should call him. This frightens Nomi, who immediately finds Molly and tells her to stay far away from that stupid asshole.  Ha hah, just kidding! She hooks her best friend up with the sleeze bag, who takes her away to “go get a drink”. They go into a room to make out, but suddenly his two bodyguards enter and here's where the movie EARNS its title as one of the biggest pieces of shit ever churned out by Hollywood.

They proceed to brutally beat her up and rape her, and it is every bit as horrific as it sounds. To make it even worse, they cut this with romantic imagery of Nomi and Zack slow dancing to a beautiful song. I don't even want to think about why this scene exists, it's wrong for every reason imaginable and truly makes me happy this movie pretty much killed the filmmaker's careers. Though Verhoeven did redeem himself a bit with Starship Troopers, I suppose, but nowhere near enough for the nightmare we just saw.  I like how the ONLY remotely nice and likeable character in the entire movie got this horrified treatment, whereas all the nasty people dance through this thing completely untouched.

Thankfully it ends soon and the next scene is at the hospital, where Nomi asks Zack why the police haven't been notified yet. Shouldn't the hospital have already- oops, my bad. Zack says they won't be called because Andrew is a “part of their team”. Nomi grabs a phone and is about to call them herself, when Zack calls her Polly. This makes her stop, Zack revealing he was able to find out her history from her arrest report for the club brawl and that he knows she's an ex-hooker and junkie.

I can't take this anymore, I have to ask a question about the logic of this movie. WHO GIVES A FUCK?! I take this scene to mean that if Nomi calls the police Zack will spill the beans on her to the press and ruin her name. But so what? Does she still want to work for the Supreme Monster who is trying to cover up her best friend's rape? But maybe she doesn't want her name to be ruined so she can get a job dancing elsewhere? Does she REALLY think Zack would just let that fly? That he wouldn't ruin her name out of spite? BAH!

Nomi gets super glammed up and goes to visit Andrew. She seduces him, but this is all a trick so she can kick and stomp the shit out of him. That's it? That's his comeuppance for committing the ultimate evil? I guess so, because the next scene is her back in the hospital telling Molly she beat him up.  And just like that, everything is perfect again!  Sigh.

She then goes to visit Cristal in a different room, apologizing for what she did but Cristal isn't mad because she did the same thing herself when she was younger. They share a deep kiss before Nomi leaves, eagerly anticipating the end of this thing as much as I am.  On the outskirts of Vegas, Nomi is hitchhiking again. Wait... she's leaving Vegas?  So why didn't she call the cops on Andrew if she was going to leave?!  Whatever.  Once again she's back to not wearing a bra, so I find it hard to believe anyone is passing her by. 

A familiar looking truck finally stops, and hey it's Jeff! What are the odds? She pulls the knife on him again and closes out the film with the ever so witty “I want my fucking suitcase!”  We see they're driving to Los Angeles as the camera pans out on a billboard of Nomi and her Vegas show.

Cue the credits.

In recent years, this movie has gotten a reevaluation of sorts, as many critics have begun to reexamine its merits and now herald it as a brilliant piece of satire or whatever. This is a pretty common effect when something has such an extreme backlash initially, years later everyone realizes it wasn't THAT bad. You saw this a lot with The Phantom Menace and more recently Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, as people got over their sky high expectations and looked at the films more objectively. Something that hopefully NEVER happens with Twilight, by the way.

I get it, I totally do. Up until the end I was able to appreciate the film as long as I kept in mind it wasn't meant to serious, but the rape scene... God. I just don't get why they had to be so graphic with it, we already got Andrew Carver was an asshole, did we really need to see detail by detail of how much of one he was? And why Andrew, who was in the film for all of five minutes and had zero effect on the story? I guess he was the catalyst that woke Nomi up to how bad Zack was, but did we really need something that graphic to kick that into motion?

Ohhhhhh wait, it's Joe Eszterhas, of course we did. It's not a story in his book unless he can go as crass and vulgar as possible, and boy did we get that here. Watch it for the unintentional hilarity and acting so hammy you'll wish you had some eggs, but turn it off before the party starts.