Posted: 08/11/2000

 

Coyote Ugly

(2000)

by Wayne Case



According to this reviewer, there is something of value in Coyote Ugly.


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Based on the ads, some of the reviews, and the previous films from producer, Jerry Bruckheimer, I fully expected to hate this one. I was VERY pleasantly surprised! Producer Bruckheimer recently delivered Con Air and Armageddon and I’m not sure which of these two I found more unbearable and objectionable. He is a producer that usually puts his personal imprint on his films and subtlety or good taste is not abundant. This time he hired former television commercial director, David McNally, to make his feature film debut, and it was a good decision. Also, give credit to sole credited script writer, Gina Wendkos, who has both theatre and television projects on her resume’. (Ms. Wendkos had un-credited assistance from Kevin Smith, who wrote and directed Chasing Amy, and from top television producer/writer, Aaron Sorkin, one of the main creative forces behind the wonderful current NBC series, The West Wing.)

I am reminded of Cocktail and Flashdance, in particular. The plot is simple and straight forward: A small town girl leaves home to seek fame and fortune as a songwriter/singer. It’s not giving too much away to say that she eventually succeeds! The main obstacle in her path is stage fright. On the other hand, she meets the love of her life. In order to support herself while attempting to get her music heard, she becomes a “coyote” (bar tender) at a colorful New York City/Greenwich Village bar called “Coyote Ugly.” The bar is owned and operated by Lil (ER’s Maria Bello) and she only hires extremely attractive young women who must appear to be available even though they must not actually be available. There really is a bar like the one in the film and it’s reported that Julia Roberts once strutted her stuff there just like the girls in the film do.

Speaking of Julia Roberts, Piper Perabo (as Violet) reminds me of a young Julia. (Sorry, Julia, but you are 10 years older!) Expect to see lots more of Ms. Perabo in the future. Second billed and sensational (though missing from the ads so far) is Australian Adam Garcia, the latest hunk to be imported from the land down under. Adam has one other completed, but unreleased, film called Bootmen, and he is currently filming Penny Marshall’s Riding In Cars With Boys co-starring Drew Barrymore. He also starred in the John Travolta role for the stage version of Saturday Night Fever. John Goodman (television’s Roseanne, Matinee, The Flintstones) is very believable and likeable in a good supporting part as Violet’s father. Unfortunately, he really is getting far too heavy and he’s health has got to be a concern.

Photography by Amir Mokri, Marlene Smith’s costumes, and production design by Jon Hutman deserve praise, while the sound is exceptional. Another big element contributing to my enjoyment of the film is the music, which is abundant. The soundtrack includes three new songs written by Diane Warren and favorite is “Can’t Fight The Moonlight”. It is likely to get Ms. Warren another well deserved Oscar nomination.

All of Violet’s vocals were dubbed by LeAnn Rimes, who also appears as herself in a cameo for the final scene.

Obviously, I was charmed. How nice it is to leave the theatre feeling so good!

Wayne Case works in the film industry in Hollywood.



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