Aspiring songwriter Violet Sanford (Piper Perabo) knows her future lies across the State line from her small New Jersey hometown amongst the bright lights of New York City. And reluctantly, her father Bill (John Goodman) knows it too. Arriving in NYC, Violet finds it's a lot harder to get discovered than she thought. With money running out fast, she manages to land a job at Coyote Ugly, the hottest party bar in town. The bar's main attraction is the attractive waitresses like Cammie (Izabella Miko), Rachel (Bridget Monahan) and Zoe (Tyra Banks) strutting their stuff. The owner Lil (Maria Bello) expects a lot from the girls and Violet soon finds her songwriting ambitions sidelined by the long hours and by her lack of confidence on stage. But Violet's attraction to Kevin (Adam Garcia), could just be her saving grace.
"Cocktail meets Fame in this energetic but uneven film from producer Jerry Bruckheimer and director David McNally. The main story about Violet's efforts to make it in the big city is frankly rather dull, enlivened only by the exuberant sequences in the bar. But just when you think all is lost amidst the bar-top dancing and big hair, the movie finds a heart - in the relationship between Violet and her dad. This makes the latter part of the film a lot more interesting than the confused early sequences. McNally utilises a music-video sensibility in his direction, which is quite appropriate. I had some problems accepting that a young woman whose main problem was stage-fright would willingly do many of the things she's required to do in this film. Still, most of the audience at the screening I attended didn't seem to share this concern. Piper Perabo shows a lot of promise as Violet, building on her appearance in the underrated Whiteboys. Unfortunately, the script never allows her to fully realise that promise. Any doubts about Adam Garcia's acting ability after Bootmen should be dispelled by this film. But the acting highlight of Coyote Ugly is John Goodman - one of only two decidedly unattractive people in the whole picture. His performance as the salt-of-the-earth Bill introduces a much needed touch of reality. Coyote Ugly is probably best summed up in the comments of a fellow viewer after the screening who said "It wasn't great filmmaking - but it did make you want to dance on a bar!"
"There are many off-putting things about Coyote Ugly - starting with that awful title - but I still found it a guilty pleasure. It's a totally factory-made product, filled with corny stereotypes and shot like a beer commercial. Still, for at least part of its length it does what entertainment is supposed to do - lift your spirits, show you a good time. Most of the high points involve singing and dancing, making this the latest of many recent attempts to revive aspects of the Hollywood musical. In other ways the plot recalls '80s hits like Cocktail or Flashdance, while the initial premise - out-of-town girl tries to make it in the big city - is given a pseudo-hardboiled treatment that's hardly changed since the '30s. I liked the romantic, old-Hollywood depiction of New York: the heroine rents a cheap apartment where she sits and gazes across the rooftops into the sunset, dreaming of success for her tacky ballads (and getting briefly distracted by a neighbour who's into hip-hop). Almost everything here is similarly, half-consciously absurd, especially the 'post-feminist' sexual politics: the filmmakers never really decide whether it's empowering or degrading for women to strut their stuff in a raucous dive like Coyote Ugly. 'Look available, but never be available,' instructs the boss, and this double standard lets the film market itself in two directions at once: the idea seems to be that women will go to see an inspirational story about a songwriter who learns to believe in herself, while men will go to see a bunch of sexy chicks cavort on top of a bar. In this country, both sexes should be entertained by the Aussie romantic interest (Adam Garcia), a daggy-but-sexy kitchenhand (he collects comic books) whose quite authentic combination of swagger and boyish reticence seems amusingly novel in the US context. Nothing very special, this movie, but it's harmless fun."
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COYOTE UGLY (M)
CAST: Piper Perabo, Juliet Neil, Adam Garcia, Maria Bello, Melanie Lynskey
DIRECTOR: David McNally
PRODUCER: Jerry Bruckheimer
SCRIPT: Gina Wendkos
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Amir M. Mokri
EDITOR: William Goldenberg
MUSIC: Trevor Horn
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Jon Hutman
RUNNING TIME: 101 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Buena Vista International
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: January 1, 2001
VIDEO DISTRIBUTOR: Buena Vista Home Video
VIDEO RELEASE: July 4, 2001