There's only one reason why a film made about the story of a bar not only was made with major studio backing, but grossed over $100 million worldwide; it's that Satan himself was behind this. I mean if people wanted to see a movie about loud and obnoxious women dancing on a bar, then why don't we see a movie about the girls of Hooters? And when you think about it further, if you're going to make a movie that seems to be pretty much about blatant sexuality that doesn't involve some gimmicky porn title and a lot of people go to see it, then Satan HAS to be involved. And shouldn't Satan have better things to do with his time? Sure, he's visited the Super Bowl the last couple of years because of his longstanding contract with Archie Manning, but a movie this vapid and devoid of any appealing characters has got to have his touch.
For the sake of naming as many guilty parties as possible, Coyote Ugly was written by Gina Wendkos, who wrote both Princess Diaries films, and directed by David McNally, who did such a good job with this film that his next was Kangaroo Jack, which coincidentally was produced by Jerry Bruckheimer, who produced this gem. The main character of the film is Violet, played by someone named Piper Perabo, who is not the downhill skier as I first thought, but actually is an actress getting steady work. Violet is a singer, but seeks out a steady source of income and gets a job at a bar in New York City, where the female staff is loud and audacious, frequently hopping on top of the bar to sing and dance to the customers' delights. Violet works at the bar while hoping to make it big as a singer, kind of like Flashdance, except with more "tramp stamps." In the supplemental material on the disc, Bruckheimer does mention this reminds him of Flashdance, so there!
So there's Violet, but the boss she works for is Lil (Maria Bello, A History of Violence), and she works with Rachel (Bridget Moynahan, Lord of War), the bitch of the group, and Cammie (Izabella Miko). One other Coyote who leaves for greener pastures is Zoe, played by Joel McHale's favorite little daytime talk show host Tyra Banks. Alongside this veritable rainbow of cheesecake is the possible romantic interest of the bunch, the multi-tasking Australian Kevin (Adam Garcia, Riding in Cars With Boys). With all this beauty, there's enough superficial emotion to go around, and to make up for it is Violet's relationship with her dad, played by John Goodman (The Big Lebowski). While this was the only part of the film that comes close to me enjoying, two things are minor distractions from total acceptance; one, Violet is basically coming from New Jersey to New York, a good 45 minutes from her house. It's not like she's going to fall hard if she doesn't make it here, and it's not like an Iowa to California bus trip, where the loser will be making porn all day. Violet just has to go back to being a short order waitress. And two, perhaps more disturbing, Goodman's moobs, if you will, are a bit more pronounced and out there than in other films. Maybe I just haven't noticed it before, or maybe in the spirit of the ladies pushing up their stuff, Goodman wanted to get in on the action.
At the end of the day, what did I take away from Coyote Ugly? Simply put, Wall Street brokers and sailors will go to the ends of the earth to see women throw water on themselves and drink and dance with the customers. Something like that is fantasy, and while the fantasy is nice, what we've seen in the subsequent reality shows looking for "more Coyotes" is that all you get is beautiful, but also loud and vapid, and that's what the movie gives us in spades.
The Blu-ray Disc:
2.35:1 widescreen love using MPEG-4 is what the bartender orders here. When it comes to high definition discs, Coyote Ugly wouldn't have been at or near the top of my list and after watching it, I'm still scratching my head. There's not a lot of fine detail that I picked up on tight shots of characters, and images didn't possess a lot of depth for most of the feature. The exterior shots (by Amir Mokri) certainly do take advantage of the "wet asphalt" aspect of New York we see, and those shots look clear and sharp, but the interior bar scenes are soft and don't possess the deep blacks we're used to seeing. Since we're in the bar most of the time, that presents for disappointing viewing.
The uncompressed PCM 5.1 surround track is also a mixed bag. Dialogue works just fine in the center channel, but there's very little speaker panning to speak of, and there's an occasional directional effect in the bar to give the idea of immersion, but little else. As far as the subwoofer goes, I'll defer to the soundtrack of the film. It's a little bit varied and is clear all the time, but the level of subwoofer activity seems to depend on the song. For some of the older songs (Jesus Jones and Charlie Daniels, for instance), low end fidelity is nonexistent. For the "newer" music like Kid Rock and Def Leppard, I was pleasantly surprised to feel things kick in. It's not like I was expecting anything demo-worthy anyway.
The movie includes an "Unrated Extended Cut" that's five minutes longer than the theatrical version, and aside from some added titillation, you're not really missing anything. On the theatrical cut, you have one commentary track with Bruckheimer and McNally and another with Bello, Banks, Perabo and the other female stars, while the extended cut does the viewer a favor and edits the two together, which was the track I heard. Bruckheimer is usually pretty dry and doesn't bring too much to the house, and this one is no exception. McNally is also a non-existent party on the track, as the focus is on the girls. You can tell what their personalities are just by this track actually. Bello seems to be the only one that brings any substance to the track and is the most serious of the bunch, Banks (surprise!) talks about herself A LOT, and everyone else doesn't really talk about much worthy of information, aside from the usual production discussion tidbit or two. Don't get me wrong, it's friendly and fun, but you're not going to learn anything. From there, six deleted scenes (7:02) provide a little more character exposition on Violet in a couple of scenes, but otherwise the material is skippable. A music video from Leann Rimes (3:51) is next, followed by a section called "Search for the Stars" (10:47), which covers how the cast came together and includes some screen test footage here and there. I should say that the interview footage in this and subsequent features is dated and on-set footage exclusively. "Inside the Songs" (3:35) looks at the collaboration between Rimes, Perabo and the film's songwriter Diane Warren, while "Coyote 101" (6:37) focuses on the preparation and challenges the actresses faced as Coyotes. A mix of "action" sequences called "Action Overload" (1:08) is next, along with a trailer (2:21) for the film.
For all of my bellyaching and general annoyance with Coyote Ugly, there's part of me that perversely understands why this movie has endured in some weird way, and why its Blu-ray debut is ahead of a lot of other more favored titles in the Touchstone library. It's a movie whose kitschiness lasts long after you've played the movie. It kind of lasts in your mind like Showgirls or Rocky Horror would, the kind of movie that plays as a cult midnight showing at the theater downtown that you've heard about, yet not really wanted to go into or drive by. On a more reasoned and rational perspective though, if I could get up on a bar and dance all over this disc I would.