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Showgirls VIP Edition on DVD

Showgirls VIP Edition on DVD

Paul Verhoeven’s Showgirls was generally written off as a bad piece of fluff on its initial release.

That isn’t quite fair. It isn’t as bad as it was made out to be – though it definitely takes real effort to take it seriously. And this makes us wonder why MGM would bother releasing it in this deluxe boxed edition that not only includes a DVD of the movie itself, but enough trinkets, gewgaws and other assorted bribes aimed at enticing buyers.

Wait. Maybe we just answered our own question…

Anyway, Showgirls does its level best to come across as a serious drama about the life of a Las Vegas showgirl, but in the end it comes across more as a way to justify flashing naked breasts at the audience at every opportunity.

Not that there’s necessarily anything wrong with that, of course!

But breasts don’t in themselves make a movie, else Russ Meyer’s Mondo Topless would have made one of the American Film Institute’s Top 100 lists.

To keep you abreast of the story, Nomi Malone (Elizabeth Berkley) is a young woman with dreams of being a professional dancer in Las Vegas. But she doesn’t just want to be one of those dancers who bumps and grinds in her legal tender-stuffed G-string, but one who earns respect and fame as an artist. Why she chooses Vegas rather than Branson, Missouri, when seeking non-nudie dancing credibility is beyond us, unless it’s the fact that Nomi is driven enough that she’s willing to do just about anything to achieve her goal and probably doesn’t have time to take a straighter and narrower path.

Her first real job, however, finds her dancing with legal tender-stuffed G-string (if it actually remains on). But she definitely has talent beyond the jiggle factor, and because of this she starts to get noticed and it isn’t long until she has a chance to audition for the position of a real live Showgirl. Showgirls aren’t just strippers, you see: they’re an entire dance troupe that, though topless, performs in choreographed production numbers. Not Ann Miller or Ginger Rogers stuff, perhaps, but it beats stripping. Except perhaps for the nudie part of the job...

But life isn’t just on stage; there’s a lot going on backstage as well, including rivalries between the girls that often result in serious injuries. And, under certain circumstances, the girls may be “required” to perform certain services if they want to further their careers – and the girls want to further their careers.

Let’s not dwell on the plot, lest you run screaming from this magazine and never return. Suffice it to say that it isn’t the worst movie ever made, despite the opinions of some people.

It does, however, have what is arguably Joe Eszterhas’ worst screenplay. The dialogue is really bad, though there are some perhaps unintentionally funny lines. The acting is also really bad, except for Gina Gershon’s caricature. Berkley could use a little gravitas if she’s going to carry a movie, though she’s appropriately decorative and uses her outstanding points appropriately.

Fortunately, Paul Verhoeven is a good director, and this comes as close to saving the movie as anything. And in an age in which musicals are few and far between (successful ones, anyway!), we get some flashy production numbers, and some exciting stripping scenes.

And, for those more interested in skin than art, there’s a bevy of beautiful boobies on display.

The VIP edition of Showgirls is one of the most interesting DVD packages, but the DVD itself is the weakest part. Maybe this explains all the extras.

The disc features anamorphic widescreen video, 16x9 TV compatible, and the picture is pretty good. Colors are rich, detail is sharp (and movies like this require great detail), and there is very little dust or grain present. Appropriately, the fleshtones come through well….

The audio is presented only in Dolby Digital 5.1 (no dts) and it’s great. The surround channels are front and center, so to speak, particularly during the big dance numbers, where they combine with the front three channels to make you feel like you’re there in the audience watching. The bass is strong, dialogue is clear.

For DVD extras, we have David Schmader providing an audio commentary. Schmader could be considered the ultimate Showgirls fan, who staged screenings of the movie with live audio commentaries. This guy obviously needs a life, but his commentary has its moments. People like Verhoeven, Berkley, Gershon, and Kyle MacLachlan also perform an audio commentary and there’s a video commentary by two girls from Scores.

Alas, it’s lousy. They critique Nomi’s dance numbers and they either take the movie or themselves far too seriously. If that isn’t enough for you, they also do a 5-minute lap dance tutorial, in which they list the things they think women should consider before giving one. We don’t remember if credibility was one of them.

Other special features on the DVD include a storyboard-to-screen featurette, a subtitle trivia track, and the trailer.

Okay, now we’ll tackle the packaging. Showgirls comes in a boxed, party edition that’s about the size of a board game. It includes two shot glasses, a poster, a blindfold, a game of “Pin the Pasties on the Showgirl,” a deck of cards and some photos of Berkley with drinking games on them.

It’s a great gimmick and can help you furnish your home with important items if you’re just starting out. We found it a real howler, however, to discover that the drinking games on the cards recommend “non-alcoholic beverages” for them. Right. We can’t imagine watching the movie without the help of a little booze, let alone playing a drinking game while teetotalling.

Still, you have to admire the showmanship. Or is it Showgirlship?

Showgirls, the VIP Edition, from MGM Home Entertainment
131 min. anamorphic widescreen (2.35:1, 16x9 TV compatible), Dolby Digital 5.1
Starring Elizabeth Berkley, Kyle MacLachlan, Gina Gershon, Glenn Plummer, Robert Davi, Alan Rachins, Gina Ravera
Written by Joe Eszterhas, Directed by Paul Verhoeven


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