Producer Jerry Bruckheimer attempts to update the success of his 1983 hit Flashdance for a new generation with this ludicrous rags-to-riches tale about a naïve New Jersey girl who maintains her integrity as a songwriter by flailing her nubile figure at one of New York City's trendier drinking establishments. The titular watering hole -- inspired by a true-life bar chronicled in GQ magazine -- is portrayed as a female-owned and -operated business in which the women hold power over their male clients; since they're in control of their own exploitation, the filmmakers insinuate that it's okay. It's as if Bruckheimer were trying to remake The Accused with a positive spin. For the dawn of the 21st century, Coyote Ugly seems wholly anachronistic: the soundtrack is made up of recycled 1980s pop hits, and the plot is lifted from crummy 1940s melodramas. Even the supposedly titillating bar dances -- in which the actresses' faces never quite match up with their body-double dancers -- do little to quicken the pulse. The charming Piper Perabo does her best to smile cheerily through the morass, but in the end, Ugly gets the best of even her.
by Michael Hastings review