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Showgirls is a 1995 American-French erotic drama film written by Joe Eszterhas and directed by Paul Verhoeven. It stars Elizabeth Berkley, Kyle MacLachlan, and Gina Gershon. The film centers on a "street-smart" drifter who ventures to Las Vegas and climbs the seedy hierarchy from stripper to showgirl.
Despite being considered as one of the worst films ever made, it has a cult status for the "so bad, it's good feel".
Nomi Malone travels to Las Vegas to become an exotic dancer - a showgirl. She is doing very well at the beginning and striding step by step towards the top of the strip clubs in Las Vegas. But when she meets a new lead showgirl, Cristal Conners, and they have to work together, the competition between those two best showgirls begins. Enthralled by the glamorous life of Las Vegas, Nomi is prepared to do everything to be the top showgirl, even if some very dirty steps must be taken from her.
Why It Fails at Being a Showgirl
- The story is lame, as nothing really develops in the movie.
- Some scenes have laughable dialogue, especially the part where Nomi and Cristal talk about eating dog food, and then all of a sudden Al says to Nomi that it is weird not having anybody ejaculate on her.
- Very poor acting, especially from Elizabeth Berkeley and Kyle MacLachlan.
- Nomi Malone is an extremely unlikable female protagonist. She does not go through any character development and is a jerk throughout the film to the point where she seems like a sociopath.
- Weak and lazy supporting characters that you won't be able to sympathize with.
- This film killed the careers of its cast and crew:
- It ruined Paul Verhoeven's reputation as a director, with Starship Troopers, Hollow Man and Elle being his only notable films since.
- Screenwriter Joe Eszterhas was also "damaged," with An Alan Smithee Film: Burn Hollywood Burn being the final blow to his career.
- Star Elizabeth Berkeley's career didn’t take off for a while, and she has mostly done guest spots on TV since then, not counting her Dancing With The Stars appearances.
- The film likely killed off two of its studios. Carolco Pictures sold the film to Chargeurs in pre-production, then Carolco went bankrupt after Cutthroat Island bombed. In 1996, Chargeurs later spun off its film library as Pathe.
- The sex scenes, especially with Nomi and Zack having sex in the swimming pool, are extremely laughable and ludicrous and make way for unintentional comedy to the point where they are not even arousing at all.
- Molly takes Nomi for dinner for some reason despite the fact that she attacked the former and her car a moment earlier.
- For some reason, all of the characters accept Nomi and love her, even though she is a jerk.
- Atrocious writing. Despite being an erotic film, the producers and writers have no idea what "sexy" is, as they just fill the movie with stuff like Nomi fingering herself, Kyle McLachlan being naked, banging anybody with a stupid hairdo, Bea Arthur having sex, putting ice on your nipples, etc.
- The monkey scene is laughably bad and was allegedly extremely uncomfortable for the cast.
- Numerous sub-plots that are never resolved, like how did Andrew's bodyguards manage to get away when they're the ones who helped rape Molly.
- The film's attempts at representing Las Vegas are really laughable.
- The TV censored versions of the film have laughably bad and painfully obvious CGI bras and underwear digitally edited in onto the female characters' nude bodies for censorship reasons.
- Bad direction by Paul Verhoeven, who directed sci-fi movies like RoboCop and Total Recall, which are far better films than this mess.
- Decent music.
- Great dance numbers with cool choreography.
- Gina Gershon's performance was decent.
- The film is so bad, it's actually pretty memorable to watch. MGM took wind of it's status as an unintentional comedy and included shot glasses and ideas for a drinking game with some DVD releases.
- To be fair, as for what erotic yet funny, the cinematography and the movie itself is very nice to look at when compared to this monstrosity.
- At least Nomi managed to avenge Molly by beating Andrew at his hotel room. In addition, Nomi herself got her comeuppance when Zack scolded her for her sordid past.
- The poster is creative and attractive.
- By comparison, it's better than the 2011 parody sequel.
Showgirls was universally derided by film critics. Rotten Tomatoes gave the film a rating of 22% based on 54 reviews, with an average rating of 3.29/10. The consensus calls the film "vile, contemptible, garish, and misogynistic – and that might just be exactly Showgirls' point." Metacritic gives the film an average score of 16/100, indicating "Overwhelming dislike." and IMDb gave it a 4.7/10. Roger Ebert, following a relatively lukewarm review (2 stars out of 4), wrote that Showgirls received "some bad reviews, but it wasn't completely terrible".
Showgirls opened at #2 during its opening weekend with a domestic gross of $8,112,627. It would later grossed $20,350,754 domestically, In foreign countries it made $17,500,000. Overall, the film made $37.8 million dollars against it's $45 million dollars budget. Despite being one of the highest-grossing NC-17 films, it was still a box office bomb. It has also been expected to be successful as Verhoeven's previous films such as Basic Instinct and Robocop, however, it was still a box office disappointment, though the home video releases would be more succesful.
The film more than recouped its budget on home video, becoming one of MGM/UA's biggest selling titles.
Showgirls won seven Golden Raspberry Awards including Worst Picture, Worst Actress and Worst New Star and was nominated for thirteen including Worst Remake or Sequel. Making it the first film to win the most Razzies. It was even given a Worst Picture of the Decade Award in 2000 until that record was beaten by Battlefield Earth (which the film tied with for the most Razzies), I Know Who Killed Me and Jack and Jill. Director Paul Verhoeven attended the ceremony to accept Worst Picture and Worst Director and said "I had the worst thing happen to me today. I got seven awards for being the worst, and it was more fun than reading the reviews in September." It has also won a Worst Picture Award at the Dallas-Fort Worth Film Critics Association Awards and The Stinkers Bad Movie Awards.
- Drew Barrymore was originally going to play Nomi Malone and Madonna was originally going to play Cristal Connors. Barrymore turned the part of Nomi down due to being uncomfortable with the amount of nudity in the script and the slight problem that she couldn't dance.
- Pamela Anderson, Angelina Jolie, Denise Richards, and Charlize Theron also auditioned for the role of Nomi.
- Sean Young and Daryl Hannah were both considered for the role of Cristal.
- Banned in Ireland when first released in 1995, but the ban was lifted in 2002, seven years after the original release. It has been also banned in Malaysia.
- Carolco sold the rights off to United Artists and Chargeurs during production. [The film is currently owned by those studios' respective successors, MGM and Pathe]
- Showgirls and Cutthroat Island were the one-two punch that killed Carolco Pictures, as the studio was sold to StudioCanal soon afterwards.
- Showgirls also caused Chargeurs to spin off its film library.