Coyote Ugly

In Coyote Ugly, a girl from a small town tries to become a dancer while working in another field.

Some films are remade over and over. Often this is due to the lack of imagination in Hollywood but there are cases that a story is endearing enough to be retold from a slightly different perspective. In 1983 Flashdance was released and changed filmmaking and fashion. The rock video became a format for a movie. The story of a girl from a small town trying to become a dancer while working in another field hit big. Now, in 2000 the same basic story is brought out again with Coyote Ugly.

Violet (Piper Perabo) is a girl from a small town in New Jersey. She dreams of becoming a songwriter and moves to NYC. After many failed attempts to get a song heard she is forced to get a job to support herself. She over hears some girls chatting in a diner about a possible job in a strange bar, Coyote Ugly. The bar is owned by Lil (Maria Bello) a non-nonsense young businesswoman who hires beautiful young women to tend bar and entertain the customers. They do this by dancing on the bar, spraying water on the customers and generally acting out.

Of course naïve Violet is out of place there but true to the genre she soon learns the ropes and becomes loved by all. What sets this film slightly above others of the same story is the energy of the cast. You still have all too many scenes that come across like your home theater left the DVD and entered MTV but it does work on at least one level. With many depressing films out lately it is refreshing to see something that just is fun to watch with an upbeat, albeit predicable, ending.

The star of Coyote Ugly is Piper Perabo. It’s a simple thing for her to play a young ‘Jersey girl since in fact she is. She was born in Tom’s River NJ and although her career to date has been unimpressive (she was in Rocky and Bullwinkle) she has the talent to make it big. Reminiscent of Julia Roberts, Perabo has the energy and control necessary for much better parts. Coyote Ugly may just turn out to do for Perabo what Mystic Pizza did for Roberts. She sells this part to the audience on that feature she is supposed to play, seer determination.

Maria Bello may look familiar to many. Perhaps best know for her role in E.R. she has been in a small but varied selection of films. In Coyote Ugly she has what it takes to pull off the role of Lil the boss. She exhibits confidence in the role that carries it over. When an actor can show confidence in a role in a movie like this I want to see them in better roles.

This is director David McNally’s freshman effort. He shows some promise as a director. He does not fall into the film school trap of attempting to cram every style that influenced him into a single film. His methods are rather straight foreword. He does tend to shoot a lot with the camera angle set above the action to give a better sense of the movement but this is somewhat necessary considering how the scenes in the bar are written. His commentary provides an interesting look at the process he took on this his fledgling work.

The Coyote Ugly disc is excellent. The audio is in both DTS and Dolby 5.1. The video is better than many films where much of the action takes place in darkened areas. There are no artifacts or distractions. The extras are also better than average.

There are looks at the girls that became the Coyotes as well as screen tests, deleted scenes and a full array of supplemental material that will hold your interest. The music written for Coyote Ugly is very good and worth hearing on its own. This is an interesting film if only in the way Mystic Pizza was, you can watch this and latter on as the stars in it grow you can say you’ve been a fan since the start.

Review by Doug MacLean of

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