Coyote Ugly
Directed By:  David McNally
Starring:  Piper Perabo, John Goodman, Adam Garcia,
Tyra Banks, Maria Bello, Izabella Miko, Bridget Moynahan

MPAA: Rated PG-13 (Language / Mild Sexuality)
Running Time:  101 Min.
   
    There's an old stand-up routine by Steve Martin that contends that anything you get at McDonald's actually comes out of this big vat of "stuff" in the back room of the restaurant.  Little molds would come by - Splat!  Here's your Big Mac... Splat!  Here's your fries...  Splat!  Here's your shake...  Splat!  Here's your change.  Coyote Ugly is sort of the Hollywood equivalent of that idea.

    There is not an original scene in this movie.   I'm going to give you the basic plotline on this one, so skip to the bottom if you only want to know it from every other "follow your dreams" movie you've already seen.

    We open with Piper Perabo, who plays Violet, a small town girl who moves to the Big Apple to follow her dream of becoming a songwriter.  Her father, played by John Goodman, doesn't want her to leave, and her departure puts a strain on their relationship.  Violet, naive to the ways of the songwriting business, and big-city life in general, ends up in a shabby apartment with no source of income.

    Eventually, she discovers a saloon called the 'Coyote Ugly', where the female employees dance atop the bar, occasionally light it on fire, and generally tease their male customers all night for extra tips.  Seeing this as a way to earn some quick cash, Violet "auditions" for the job.  Even though Violet makes many mistakes early on, the bar's owner, Lil, likes her spunk and gives here the job anyway.  Lil has a heart of gold.  Big surprise.  The others girls who work at the bar are also as one-dimensional as cardboard cut-outs, each apparently only possessing a single personality trait.  Before she can really become a Coyote, they must take Violet out shopping and give her a makeover, so that she can be shallow, too.  Cue the fashion montage from Pretty Woman

    Enter the romantic subplot, Kevin, played by Adam Garcia.  Violet starts out hating Kevin, then she likes him, then she hates him again, then, well, you get the idea.  Kevin doesn't want Violet to give up her dream, but Violet is afraid to perform her own songs. 

    As expected, dear old dad soon finds out what his sweet Violet is doing for a living, and his reaction is, of course, predictable.  Believe it or not, everything turns out fine in the end, people live happily ever after, love conquers all, and dreams really do come true. 

    Unoriginality aside, there are a few entertaining moments in this film, and the stars do give good performances.  Piper Perabo is especially engaging as Violet.  She shows some of the same qualities Julia Roberts showed in her early work, and is well on her way to becoming a major star.  John Goodman was also very good as Violet's father.  He is fast becoming one of Hollywood's best character actors.  Both of these performers deserve to be in much better films. 

    This movie will probably become a surprise hit, due to its popular cast and marketing campaign, but that would be the only thing surprising about it.  As for myself, I'm getting tired of seeing movies straight out of the big vat.
   
Review published
August 9, 2000
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