I am of the opinion that movies categorized as “romantic comedy” have to add the “comedy” modifier to them to ensure that people will see the movie. While I do enjoy a genuinely romantic story, most romance movies are so sappy and melodramatic they are nearly unwatchable. But as far as romantic comedies go, Coyote Ugly (2000) wasn’t half bad.
An aspiring 20-something songwriter named Violet Sanford (Piper Perabo) moves to New York City with dreams of making it big. Her father (John Goodman) begrudgingly lets her go, fearing for her safety. Working with the music industry proves much more difficult than Violet realized. Needing to support herself until stardom rolls around, Violet gets a “day” job as a barmaid at a nightclub called Coyote Ugly. Coyote Ugly is the city’s newest hot spot where the owner Lil (Maria Bello) and the employees are a team of sexy, resourceful women that dance on the bar, flirt with the mostly male clientele, sing along with the jukebox, and goad the customers into matching them shot for shot.
How many movies have there been about someone from a small town going to the big city with dreams of success and stardom? I’ll bet you can think of at least three off the top of your head without much effort. On top of that, there are countless other movies where a poor young lady is being crushed by the weight of the world only to have an absurdly perfect young man sweep her off her feet and help her with her troubles. What, then does Coyote Ugly have to offer that the others haven’t? Sexy women dancing on a bar top in a wet T-shirt contest is about all I can think of. Nevertheless, Coyote Ugly fleshes out these clichés enthusiastically without much irony. For that, I have to praise it.
Music played a strong role in this movie. There is lots of raucous and fun music played at the bar, such as "I Will Survive" by Gloria Gaynor, "I Love Rock N Roll" by Joan Jett, and "Rock This Town" by Stray Cats. Coyote Ugly’s soundtrack features Violet's four songs from the movie, performed by LeAnn Rimes, who also did Violet's singing voice. It achieved gold status within a month of its release. The music was fantastic and really helped set the tone of the bar and the movie.
The bar is almost a character unto itself. It serves as an escape from the world of dead dreams and is a place to live out fantasies while getting mistreated just a little bit. It’s sort of a southern biker bar meets a downtown hot spot full of frat kids. I’ve been to circuses that were more subdued than the Coyote Ugly bar. The movie is about Violet and the atmosphere of the bar. Coyote Ugly has a relationship with all the characters that we see throughout the film; it’s a place for the characters to congregate and interact. A lot of major plot points and character developments are portrayed through the bar.
There was so much texture and detail in the sets. It seemed like an artistic arrangement while still looking like natural backgrounds; that is a very difficult balance to achieve. I was also impressed by the eye-catching color palette. There were some remarkably vivid reds that really popped out with complementary contrasts of darker blues. Most of the camera work was uninspiring, but the striking colors and sets made up for it.
Coyote Ugly is essentially a bartending movie. It’s sexy, raunchy, and very worldly. It was uncomfortable to watch at times since it objectifies women as unattainable sex toys. The movie pushed its limits without actually achieving an R rating. It’s not something I’d recommend watching with your mother present, or young viewers for that matter. The Comedy aspect was respectable. I laughed fairly consistently throughout the film. All in all, Coyote Ugly was not a terrible film. It’s about as slick and mindless as you’d expect from a clichéd risqué movie about making it in the Big Apple while working at a bar. You’ll either like it as a silly, sexy romp of a film that is not to be taken too seriously, or hate it for being similar to so many other movies that have come before it in terms of character and story. It may be worth renting if the risqué content doesn’t put you off too much, otherwise don’t bother.
I can’t think of any other “bartending” movies other than Coyote Ugly, can you? Comment below and tell me if I’m missing anything worth seeing.