For years it seemed I ate my breakfast cereal in front of Saved by the Bell. Zack was cool, Kelly was sweet, and Jessie was the nerd: this much I knew. But when the show ended in 1993, long before I ever walked the halls of a high school myself, the young woman who’d played Jessie, Elizabeth Berkley, was anxious to rebrand herself.

5bntds.gifCue Showgirls, the movie where she somehow failed to earn accolades or respect by baring her beaver. In fact, the film positively dies every time she’s on screen. She’s horrible. Horrible. I was literally annoyed by her in less than 2 minutes flat (watch it and see if you can do better!).

Like any self-respecting person, I have avoided this movie for 20 fucking years. 20 years! Now here I am, watching it at work (probably a mistake) when I know better. When the movie came out, it bombed. OF COURSE it bombed. The script (by Joe Eszterhas, writer of Flashdance) failed to inspire. Elizabeth Berkley couldn’t act her way out of a parking ticket. She mistakes acting with tits, ass, and temper tantrums. Seriously – even the ladies of Girl, Interrupted seemed less mentally unstable. Director Paul Verhoeven (Basic Instinct, Robocop, Total Recall) is way out of his depth. He has the gall to defend this stinker – and to belatedly attempt to explain it as a satire (if you spot the satire, let me know). When Showgirls swept the Razzie Awards, Paul tumblr_my1ilt5ZOn1scmselo1_500Verhoeven turned up in personal to collect both Worst Director and Worst Picture. He was the first director to ever do so (Berkley opted not to collect hers).

The studio decided it had better embrace the badness, and tried to rebrand the thing as a “midnight cult flick” much like Rocky Horror Picture Show. It lacks the charm of Rocky Horror but it is unintentionally funny. It’s the movie of the month at Kingston’s The Screening Room and is playing this Sunday July 17th at 7pm. Show up in your best Nomi costume (just try not to get solicited on the way there). It’s also playing in Chicago at Music Box on August 10th and in London at Eagle London on July 20th.

See if you can make it through more of the movie than its co-star Kyle tumblr_n9rnuvoRDp1sohv25o1_500.gifMacLachlan can – he’s said to have walked out of the premiere but he denies it, insisting “I sat thee and suffered for the whole two hours.” Steven Spielberg also gave up on the movie halfway through, saying “Sometimes, I hate this town.” It does have a fan in Quentin Tarantino though – he calls it “the Mandingo of the ’90s.”

So what do you think? Pamela Anderson, Angelina Jolie, Denise Richards and Charlize Theron all auditioned for the part – think they dodged a bullet? Elizabeth Berkley’s career certainly  never recovered. 

 The film was set up for a sequel that strangely never materialized. “Bimbos: Nomi Does Hollywood” sounds like a real winner, doesn’t it?

36 thoughts on “Showgirls

  1. Brittani

    Kyle MacLaughlin is SO bad as well. I watched this after watching a clip on IFC’s Indie Sex documentary, I was curious I couldn’t help myself. It was hilariously bad. At lease they had the sense to try to pretend it was a cult satire instead of just standing by it as…..whatever they were trying to do.


  2. Wendell

    Hahahahaha!!!! Love this post…

    And this movie…sorta. I mean…

    Showgirls is the ultimate example of so bad it’s awesome. It just fails so spectacularly at every facet of filmmaking I can’t help but laugh my ass off all the way through it. Berkeley’s performance is one for the ages as terrible portrayals go. She’s only outdone in awfulness by the dialogue she and her castmates have to spout. Gawd, I have so much fun watching this crap.


  3. Birgit

    Oh gosh…you watched twice? You are a brave soul. I have thankfully dodged this bullet. She reminds me of some zombie suburban mom who just whacked her entire family and this was when she was on Dancing With The Stars. I’m still wondering why Angelina Jolie And Charlize Theron even auditioned for it.


  4. ninvoid99

    Yeah, this was pretty bad but it’s so fun to watch. It’s ridiculous and over-the-top with one of the craziest sex scenes I had ever seen. I was so eager to see this when it came out as I couldn’t believe Jessie Spano would be the one to go fully nude and when I finally saw it on TV. I went from smiling to…. cringing in horror. She is a bad actress. She’s the one thing in the film that doesn’t work.


  5. kmSalvatore

    Hahaha I love reading all of your reviews Jay, but especially the movies you diligent the most.. You crack me up. I never saw rocky horror show, I was busy making babies I guess:) and then I just lost ..or grew out of ever wanting to see it. But I remember my kids savoring saved by the bell. They lived for that show. , I don’t know this movie, but I will be sure to avoid it.
    Thanks for the chuckles Jay


  6. John Charet

    Great post, but I have to totally disagree with you. I feel that Showgirls painted an insightful social commentary on fame in general. If it’s erotica feels artificial, take into account that it is satirizing Vegas in general. I can see how some fans of cult cinema have labeled this as (strangely as it may sound) the 90’s version of All About Eve taking into account that it is a social commentary on showbiz in general. If the acting and the script sound tacky (which is what it was on purpose), that is because the film wants to attack showbiz and fame where it really hurts because in real life this is probably how most of these people talk like frighteningly enough. Anyway, keep up the great work as always 🙂


  7. tubularsock

    Jay, enjoyed your review. Film is an art form where editing can only go a short distance to “create” talent. And talent can only go a short distance to “create” directing. And directing can only go a short distance to “create” a believable script. And a believable script …. crap in, crap out!


  8. Colane Conundrum

    I’ve never seen this one, and based on the horrific reviews, I’ve always wanted to — just out of sheer curiosity.

    I always liked Berkley in Saved By the Bell, and she was really good in Roger Dodger, although her role was brief.


  9. Widdershins

    I watched it back in the day, from cover to cover … all the while telling myself, ‘it can’t be this bad, it can’t be this bad, ohmygod that’s Gina Gershon, it can’t be this bad’ it can’t be this bad’ … but it was. 🙂


  10. Christopher

    I remember so little. I think at one point I saw Kyle MacLachlan’s bare backside and I appreciated such a half-assed (or full-assed) attempt at gender equity. But what I really remember is that when Showgirls was in theaters Gilbert Gottfried hosted “Up All Night” on the USA Network on Friday and Saturday night. He’d show a couple of bad movies and make jokes about them during commercial breaks.
    Except one night he didn’t bother to make fun of whatever film was being shown. He had his own running parody of Showgirls called “Tuchus”.
    And I think it’s safe to say it was better than Showgirls.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s