"Coyote Ugly"

Hot girls dance and dump water on themselves -- now with director's commentary, behind-the-bar footage and a chat with the starving actresses.

Published February 21, 2001 8:00PM (EST)

"Coyote Ugly"
Directed by David McNally
Starring Piper Perabo, John Goodman, Maria Bello, Tyra Banks, Izabella Miko, Bridget Moynahan, Adam Garcia
Touchstone Video; anamorphic widescreen (2.35:1 aspect ratio)
Extras: Making-of documentary by Vivian Kubrick, "Coyote" commentary, selected scenes audio commentary, search for the stars featurette, "Inside the Songs" featurette, "Coyote 101," additional scenes, "Action Overload" featurette, LeAnn Rimes music video, trailer

When we first see Violet Sanford (Piper Perabo) in "Coyote Ugly," she's pushing pizzas at a New Jersey hangout, all innocent and bubbly with ambition, ready to set out for the Big Apple and try to make it as a songwriter. A few scenes later, she ends up in a Chinatown tenement, dreamily playing her keyboard on the roof and singing sticky-sweet lyrics to the stars.

Violet just wants to sell her songs (written for the screen by popsmith Diane Warren); she doesn't want to sing in front of others because she suffers from "genetic" stage fright. The problem is that she can't seem to get her tapes past the swift-tongued robo-receptionists at the snooty talent agencies. To make matters worse, she's soon broke. Thankfully, she happens upon three half-naked loudmouths at a late-night diner and overhears them brag about their evening's earnings. It turns out that they're not hookers -- they're "Coyotes." Violet realizes she must be one too.

"Coyote Ugly," named after a sweaty fratboy den in New York's East Village, becomes Violet's new home. And the bar, on top of which girls dance and loll their tongues and dump pitchers of water on themselves, becomes the makeshift stage where Violet confronts her fear of performing in front of others. Soon after, Violet meets an Australian boy who's very handsome and charismatic. He teaches Violet a thing or two about being strong and facing her fears. Later, he yells at her for slinking on a bar and looking like a slut.

The dancing scenes are fun to watch, but the other Coyotes, played by Bridget Moynahan, Izabella Miko and Tyra Banks, are almost too polished: There are too many choreographed routines, not enough tasteless swagger. And when the girls and a few patrons burst out in a complicated clog shuffle, you realize that producer Jerry Bruckheimer and director David McNally have given the bar's sloshed clientele a tad too much credit as well.

Not that the actresses deserve much more: On the DVD's "Coyote Commentary," the way all of them talk about the film is nails-on-a-chalkboard irritating, and Piper Perabo screams everything. "We really shot this in Chinatown!" she squeals. "Yeah, we used real Chinese extras!" And Tyra Banks can't resist indulging in the anxieties of a model-turned-actress: "I was a little skinny here. I wasn't eatin' carbs back then. I was about 10 pounds lighter. I look a little too modelish." You can actually hear the other actresses groaning beneath their breathy "Uh-huhs."

Bruckheimer and McNally talk separately about the experts they consulted for the dance moves, fight scenes and bartending tricks and discuss why they chose these particular actresses for the film. The other extras offer more behind-the-scenes booty-shaking, bottle-spinning and bad-girl-acting clips, as well as a how-to-be-a-Coyote lesson, a "Behind the Songs" featurette with Warren and the LeAnn Rimes music video.

It's just too much. In the "Coyote Commentary," one of the actresses gives a shout out to Bruckheimer for making movies with great roles for women. Another, however -- or maybe the same one, who knows? -- wisely observes, "This movie is really all about the beauty shot." Maybe Bruckheimer's DVD edition should have just left it at that.

By Suzy Hansen

Suzy Hansen, a former editor at Salon, is an editor at the New York Observer.

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