Coyote Ugly

Directed by David McNally
Starring: Piper Perabo, Adam Garcia, Maria Bello, Izabella Miko, Tyra Banks, Bridget Moynahan, John Goodman.
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for sensuality.

Review by Matt Heffernan <>
August 6, 2000

The last Jerry Bruckheimer film, Gone In 60 Seconds, delivered what it promised: a whole lotta car chases. Of course, it had little else. His new film promises cute girls dancing on bars. In this case, Coyote Ugly had a lot more than what it promised.

You probably know that this is really a small-town-girl-tries-to-make-it-in-the-big-city story, with Piper Perabo (a bright new ingenue who also starred in Rocky and Bullwinkle) in the archetypal role. She is Violet, and she wants to be a songwriter. Her stage fright is too great to overcome, so she'd rather have Whitney Houston or Mariah Carey sing her songs. She leaves South Amboy, NJ for New York, moves into a tiny Chinatown apartment, records a demo tape, and sends it around the agencies and record companies.

The na´ve girl gets a quick lesson in show business, so she looks for regular work. She finds out about Coyote Ugly, a bar where the waitresses get excellent tips. She impresses the owner (Maria Bello) enough to get an "audition" where she has to dance on the bar, serve drinks, and deal with rowdy customers while trying to entertain them. She also meets a guy (Adam Garcia), and they start to date. Her time is now spent between the bar and her boyfriend.

By now you're probably wondering what happens. Well, she has to learn to overcome her fear of performing in order to sell her songs at "Open Mike" events. That's pretty much it. First-time director David McNally cuts around to the different parts of her life, but he knows that the bar is the most interesting, and does a good job showcasing it. But why, oh why, do we have to sit through the rest of the film?

Perabo's character is almost completely uninteresting, despite her valiant attempt at making it into something. John Goodman plays her father, but ironically, the parts with him are the worst. He wants her back in Jersey, she needs to follow her dream, blah, blah, blah. Has anybody cared about stories like this since 1935? It's far too much to ask a modern audience to sit through one mundane scene after another until the girls come out and shake their stuff on the bar.

Bruckheimer should know better than trying to make a light romantic comedy fit in with the gimmick. It's never really bad, but after watching Coyote Ugly, I can't help but feel like my time was wasted.

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Coyote Ugly (2000)

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Review © 2000 Matt Heffernan