Like King Midas of old, everything Jerry Bruckheimer touches seems to turn into gold. Starting with his 1983 sleeper hit, "Flashdance", followed closely by "Top Gun" and "Beverly Hills Cop" and, most recently, "Gone In Sixty Seconds", Bruckheimer-backed films turn their stars into household names while cleaning up at the box office. And going by the response to "Coyote Ugly", Bruckheimer's got another major hit on his hands with this story about booze, babes and burning ambition.
"Coyote Ugly" introduces us to Violet Sandford (Piper Perabo), who is on the verge of leaving her home in a sleepy suburb of New York to follow her dream of becoming a famous songwriter in New York City. Whilst visiting the major record labels to drop off demo copies of her first tape, she runs into Kevin (Adam Garcia), a chef at a small New York club. Their relationship gets off on the wrong foot when Kevin claims to be a club manager, but is unable to maintain the pretense for very long; however, the two soon find themselves drawn together again when Violet gets a job at Coyote Ugly, a Manhattan nightclub.
Coyote Ugly is the flavour of the month in New York, despite the fact that it sells only beer and shots. The club's primary attraction is its bar girls, referred to as "Coyotes" - three young women who simultaneously pour drinks and entertain the audience with a variety of antics. In an atmosphere where anything goes - and frequently does - Violet takes a few days to fit into her new job, but is soon strutting her stuff with the other girls. As she struggles to find a balance between her job and her unfulfilled ambitions, she realizes that she will have to make a choice about her future...
If you've seen "Flashdance", you're probably struck by the similarities between that movie and this one...and yes, there are many. But where "Coyote Ugly" succeeds is in its fun quotient - its heady, alcohol-fueled atmosphere, not to mention the various stunts that the Coyotes get up to, make for entertaining viewing.
Production is faultless throughout - "Coyote Ugly" is based on an actual Manhattan nightclub, and tremendous efforts have been made to convey the right atmosphere, right from the decor to the bouncer at the door. Deft picture postcards of Manhattan, from the bustling docks and the crowded coffee shops to the deserted New York streets at night, also contribute to the film's sense of place, and provide a slice of the life New York is famous for.
Naturally, the film's primary attractions are the Coyotes, who let it all hang out when it comes to entertaining the customers. While the relatively young cast's inexperience does show at points, the performances overall are acceptable and first-time director David McNally does a good job of creating a tight, sensitive and emotionally-diverse film. A mention must be made here of John Goodman, who plays Violet's dad and steals the scene every time he makes an appearance - the man is a comic genius, and both his timing and his delivery are dead-on accurate every time.
If you're looking for a movie to get you in the right mood before partying down at a nightclub this week-end, put this one on your must-see list - it's tremendous fun, and well worth some a couple of hours of your time.This article was first published on 06 Nov 2000.