Showgirls may very well be the most famous bad film ever made. It caused a massive stir when it was released back in 1995, as it was hit with an NC-17 rating, which basically spelled box-office death from the get go, and deemed it unwatchable by most due to its extreme content. After watching Showgirls: 15th Anniversary Sinsational Edition, I’d say that those who weren’t able to see this film back then (by legal standards anyway) got off lucky.
Showgirls tells the story about a young woman named Nomi Malone (Saved by the Bell‘s Elizabeth Berkley), who wants to make it big as a dancer in Las Vegas. After hitchhiking there, she’s quickly robbed of all her belongings – don’t worry, she still has her dignity, at least for another 10 minutes or so, then that’s stolen too – and left despondent on the side of the road. Quickly befriended by Molly (Gina Ravera) she rebounds and finds herself a job dancing at a strip club. She ignores all who look down on her profession, as she sees it as being an extension of her dancing dream, only in this one, she’s completely naked with men throwing money at her.
With help from Molly, who’s a seamstress for “Goddess,” a popular topless Vegas show, Nomi is able to witness her true dream, live and in person. While there, she’s confronted by the leading lady of the show, Cristal Connors (Gina Gershon) who calls Nomi a whore for working where she works. Nomi, as she does throughout most of the film, gets offended and runs away. Catfights ensue, yet Cristal, intrigued by Nomi, pulls strings to get her an audition for the big show. Will she get the part? Will she reach her dreams? Unfortunately, the film never gets interesting for us to even care, nor does it give us an actual protagonist to root for.
Nomi is an extremely unlikeable character, and at no time do we ever feel the need to cheer for her, or hope she makes it. In almost every scene she’s freaking out like a complete lunatic, and or, finds herself being offended and runs off to cry, and it gets old fast. Eventually you can start to piece the movie together in chunks of the same thing happening: Nomi is angry and catty, Nomi thinks something good will happen, Nomi gets offended, Nomi runs away. Each of these things feel like they happen on repeat every ten minutes, for the entire two hour duration of the film.
On top of this the acting is bad, the dialogue is worse (we’re talking extremely bad dialogue thinking it’s being witty) and the story just drags and drags; it’s the perfect recipe for one really boring movie. Far from the worst movie ever, or even a generation, but it’s mind-numbing as hell and also incredibly predictable. At least it goes from point A to point B in a relatively coherent fashion, which can’t be said about some other films.
Showgirls is known as a cult favourite, and it’s actually one of the highest selling MGM videos of all time. I, of course, don’t see what the appeal is. Cult favourites usually have something going for them, yet somehow fly under the radar when they were released theatrically, and find an audience on video store shelves. Showgirls doesn’t have any type of appeal outside of the fact that it was that NC-17 flick from back in the day where that girl from Saved by the Bell (Jesse Spano not Kelly Kapowski, unfortunately) got naked. Maybe this is still the reason for its popularity, because I certainly have seen films that are so bad they’re good, but this one is just so bad, it’s bad.
I can’t knock things that are really great. The video transfer is fantastic. The colours are vibrant, and every scene is remarkably clear. The movie really does look amazing, and at full 1080p, 2.35:1 aspect ratio, there really isn’t a point in the film where it doesn’t look like it was made yesterday, and not 15 years ago. The transfer is highly commendable, and there are other, better films out there that don’t get this type of treatment. The audio, DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio sounds terrific as well. The voices are clear, and as cringe-inducing as the dialogue may be, it never fades out, or is a struggle to hear. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but the treatment given to Showgirls is something other companies can learn from.
This version of the film includes both a Blu-ray copy, and DVD copy of the film. The DVD copy has a single Behind-the-Scenes featurette, while the Blu-ray disc has some exclusives of its own.
Pole Dancing: Finding Your Inner Stripper – This HD featurette runs at just under 12 minutes, and shows the viewer how to use a stripper pole to perform various aerobic exercises.
Lap Dance Tutorial Featuring the World-Famous Girls of Scores – This one comes in at just under five minutes, and shows a woman how to give the perfect lap dance to a guy, then cut him off, leaving him begging for more.
There’s also an audio commentary done by David Schmader, a writer from Seattle who has hosted various showings of the film, describing it as misunderstood, and a piece of cinematic history. The commentary is entitled The Greatest Movie Ever Made, and as funny as that may be to read, in order to hear the commentary, it’d mean sitting through the film again…this is something I cannot recommend.
Showgirls Fact-Up Trivia – The film does know how to have fun with itself, knowing where it stands in the pantheon of cinema. And you know what they say, if you laugh at yourself, others will stop making fun of you. Sure, your movie will still suck, but at least people will stop poking fun at it. Okay, that’s not true either.
A Showgirls Diary – This sounds more interesting than it is, as it’s really just storyboards from the film, and some behind-the-scenes stuff.
And finally, what extras package would be complete without the theatrical trailer.
Showgirls is supposed to be famous for being so bad that it’s almost funny. I didn’t laugh during the film, and was actually shocked to find myself not even an hour in when I felt as though I was well over the halfway point. It’s a long, boring film with really no redeeming factors. Of course, there are no other ways to see Jesse Spano from Saved by the Bell naked, so if that’s what you’re looking for, look no further!
MGM Home Entertainment presents Showgirls. Director: Paul Verhoeven. Starring: Elizabeth Berkley, Gina Gershon, Kyle MacLachlan. Running time: 131 minutes. Rating: R. Released on DVD: June 15, 2010.
Brendan Campbell was here when Inside Pulse Movies began, and he’ll be here when it finishes - in 2012, when a cataclysmic event wipes out the servers, as well as everyone else on the planet other than John Cusack and those close to him. Brendan’s the #1 supporter of Keanu Reeves, a huge fan of popcorn flicks and a firm believer that sheer entertainment can take a film a long way. He currently resides in Canada, where, for reasons stated above, he’s attempting to get closer to John Cusack.