Stop The Howling

After an aborted attempt to sit through this in a drive in theater a couple years back, I finally managed to sit through Coyote Ugly on cable.

Much has been made of producer Jerry Bruckheimer doing a movie like this, while his usual fare involves bullets and bodies and large explosions. It almost goes without saying his films generally have a male perspective. Coyote Ugly appears to be his attempt at a "chick flick".

The film is told through the eyes of Violet Sanford (Piper Perabo), an aspiring songwriter who moves to New York City. She ends up at a bar where the principal attraction is the set of sexy female bartenders who treat the job more as performance art than as a service profession. Much as Bruckheimer's other films feature men doing bad ass things, Ugly features the women doing some masculine projection of feminine bad-assness. While, I suppose, bad-ass is in the mind of the beholder, virtues of assertiveness are put forth amongst the casual hot shot behavior.

Violet ends up with an Australian bloke named Kevin who pushes her toward her songwriting goals and past her stagefright - which seems to only coincide with singing her songs. The relationship is almost realistic in how uninteresting it appears to us people not actually in it.

John Goodman plays Violent's father, and delivers one of his good performances. He seems to excel in character roles, while the usual comedic starring parts leave me wanting. Here, we get a good sense of depth to his character without needing a lot of screen time.

A big part of the movie is the music. In a way, it's one of those films that plays like an extended-length music video - a fair portion of the intended audience probably can watch MTV for great lengths at a time, though perhaps on retrospective shows, as the music, though well chosen, is slightly dated.

I guess Coyote Ugly delivers on those things it promises - the story itself and showing off sexy, untamed women. Its values do not go too much further than that. Bruckheimer delivers high production values, but simultaneously lacks artistic values. Character development and meaning take a backseat to image, though that image is a well polished and marketable one.

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