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Showgirls (1995)

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Sex, seduction and betrayal.
Leave Your Inhibitions At The Door

Beyond your wildest dreams. Beyond your wildest fantasies.

Sensual. Controversial. Available.

The most controversial movie of the year is here.

"I'm gonna dance," Nomi Malone (Elizabeth Berkley) insists in the opening scene of Showgirls, and dance she does. In this quasi-update of All About Eve, Nomi is a drifter whose sole ambition is to headline the "Goddess" topless dance show at the Stardust in Las Vegas. Of course, even Nomi must pay her dues, and she does so at the Cheetah, grinding poles and lap dancing her way to a future. Fortunately, her roommate, Molly, works at the Stardust and invites Nomi to see the show, where she meets Crystal Conners (Gina Gershon, in the Bette Davis role), with whom she immediately forms a love/hate relationship. Nomi soon learns what she must do to get ahead, and the rest of the film documents her cat-like crawl up the showgirl ladder of success. Directed by Paul Verhoeven, (Robocop, Basic Instinct, The Fourth Man), Showgirls was conceived as the first big-budget "adult" film since 1977's Caligula, and the first such production to wear the NC-17 rating; its failure at the box-office discouraged further attempts at large-scale adult productions

Showgirls is a 1995 French-American drama directed by Paul Verhoeven and starring former teen actress Elizabeth Berkley, Kyle MacLachlan, and Gina Gershon. The film centers around a "street-smart" drifter who ventures to Las Vegas and climbs the seedy hierarchy from stripper to showgirl.
Produced on a then-sizable budget of approximately $45 million, significant controversy and hype surrounding the film's amounts of sex and nudity preceded its theatrical release. In the United States, the film was rated NC-17 for "nudity and erotic sexuality throughout, some graphic language and sexual violence." Showgirls was the first NC-17 rated film to be given a wide release in mainstream theaters.[3] Distributor United Artists dispatched several hundred staffers to theaters across North America playing Showgirls in order to ensure that patrons would not be sneaking into the theater from other films, and to make sure the film-goers were over the age of 17. Audience restriction due to the NC-17 rating coupled with the extremely poor reviews the film received resulted in a box office take of slightly less than $38 million.
Despite a poor theatrical and critical consensus, Showgirls enjoyed success on the home video market, generating more than $100 million from video rentals allowing the film to turn a healthy profit[4] and became one of MGM's top 20 all-time bestsellers.[5] For its video premiere, Verhoeven prepared an R-rated cut for rental outlets that would not carry NC-17 films. This edited version runs 3 minutes shorter (128 minutes) and deletes some of the more graphic footage. Despite being consistently ranked as one of the worst films ever made, Showgirls has become regarded as a cult classic and was released on Blu-ray in June 2010.[6]
A spin-off sequel, entitled Penny's from Heaven, focused on the minor character Penny played by Rena Riffel and also written, produced, and directed by Riffel, was released direct-to-video in 2011.

Showgirls received negative reviews. The film's gratuitous nudity, simulated sex, and $2 million screenplay[7] (written by Joe Eszterhas, who had worked with director Verhoeven before) did not lend itself to what might have been a provocative film. The 1998 film Burn Hollywood Burn, also written by Eszterhas, contains a reference to Showgirls as a "terrible" film.
Showgirls currently holds a 17% 'Rotten' rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 46 reviews. It has an average score of 16 on Metacritic. Roger Ebert, following a relatively mild negative review, wrote that Showgirls received "some bad reviews, but it wasn't completely terrible",[8] but the movie remains heralded as one of cinema's worst.
The film was the winner of a then-record seven 1995 Golden Raspberry Awards (from a record thirteen nominations, a record that still stands) including Worst Picture, Worst Actress (Elizabeth Berkley), Worst Director (Paul Verhoeven), Worst Screenplay (Joe Eszterhas), Worst New Star (Elizabeth Berkley), Worst Screen Couple ("any combination of two people (or two body parts)") and Worst Original Song (David A. Stewart and Terry Hall for "Walk Into the Wind"). Verhoeven gamely appeared in person at the Razzies ceremony to accept his award for Worst Director; Showgirls would later win an eighth Razzie Award for Worst Picture of the Last Decade in 2000. It was soon tied with Battlefield Earth for winning the most Razzies in a single year, a record broken when I Know Who Killed Me won eight trophies in 2008 and then again when Jack and Jill won ten awards in 2012.
Due to Showgirls' poor reception, Striptease, a 1996 film about nude dancers starring Demi Moore, had to be distanced from Showgirls in advertisements;[9] Striptease nonetheless won the next year's Razzie Award for Worst Picture. Rena Riffel, who played Penny/Hope in Showgirls, was also cast in Striptease, as Tiffany Glass.
The term "Showgirls-bad" has been adopted by film critics and fans to refer to films considered guilty pleasures, or "so-bad-they're-good".[10][11][12] To date, Showgirls is the highest-grossing NC-17 production, earning $20,350,754 at the North American box office.[13]
"I met Paul Verhoeven and he was just so charismatic," remarked Toni Halliday, who contributed to the soundtrack. "He wowed me into this horrible film, selling it as some intellectual comment on the sex industry. I walked out after 45 minutes. The screen went dead every time that woman was on it." (Select magazine, August 1996)

Recent years have seen a re-evaluation of the film's merits. Critics such as Jonathan Rosenbaum and Jim Hoberman, as well as filmmakers Jim Jarmusch[16] and Jacques Rivette, have gone on the record defending Showgirls as a serious satire. Rivette called it "one of the great American films of the last few years", though "very unpleasant: it’s about surviving in a world populated by assholes, and that’s Verhoeven's philosophy".[17] Quentin Tarantino has stated that he enjoyed Showgirls, referring to it as the "only [...] other time in the last twenty years [that] a major studio made a full-on, gigantic, big-budget exploitation movie", comparing it to Mandingo.[18]
Showgirls has been compared to the 1950 film All About Eve as a remake, update, or rip-off of that film.[19][20] For Jonathan Rosenbaum "Showgirls has to be one of the most vitriolic allegories about Hollywood and selling out ever made".[16] "Verhoeven may be the bravest and most assured satirist in Hollywood, insofar as he succeeds in making big genre movies no one knows whether to take seriously or not", Michael Atkinson has noted.[21]
In Slant Magazine's four-out-of-four-star review, Eric Henderson rejects the "so-bad-it's-good" interpretation and lauds the film as "one of the most honest satires of recent years", stating that the film targets Hollywood's "morally bankrupt star-is-born tales."[22] Henderson draws from a round-table discussion in Film Quarterly in which others argue its merits. Noël Burch attests that the film "takes mass culture seriously, as a site of both fascination and struggle" and utilizes melodrama as "an excellent vehicle for social criticism."[23] In the same round-table, Chon Noriega suggests that the film has been misinterpreted and the satire overlooked because "the film lacks the usual coordinates and signposts for a critique of human vice and folly provided by sarcasm, irony, and caustic wit."[24]
Verhoeven himself and many other people have stated that the reason why the film failed at the box office was because audiences were alienated by the film's misanthropic attitude not only toward its characters and subject matter, but of the general human existence.
English film critic Mark Kermode, a dissenting voice amongst Showgirls' positive critical re-evaluation, has stated, "If Showgirls had any appeal at all, it was that it was so spectacularly vulgar and crude," and "I still think it's just rubbish, and I like Paul Verhoeven."

Release Date: September 22, 1995

Distrib: United Artists

Boxoffice: $20,350,754 2013: $38,175,200

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