More stuff and nonsense about making it in the Big Apple (seem slightly familiar?), "Coyote Ugly" rings to the sound of a desperate writer sweating to find a new spin on a clapped-out cliché.
The spin here (and how useful for publicity purposes it proves) is that an awfully sweet girl-next-door who loves her slob of a dad (John Goodman) is able to turn into a sex vamp as she struts her stuff on a bar counter and cools down the salivating, sexually-pumped bikers (ie, the customers) by spraying them with water. She, and the other seductresses on the bar, are performing something akin to striptease without actually stripping off. Thus she remains decent. So that's all right then. This job, by the way, is purely a means for this nice girl to secure a record deal so that the public can get an earful of her super-sensitive songs.
In a film with more than its fair share of daft moments, you'll be unsurprised to learn that Daddy - who for almost the entire film disapproves of his daughter's come-hither job - ends up dancing on the bar himself. Yet in amongst the phoniness, there is at least some reality and ballast. First up is relative newcomer Piper Perabo, who suffuses her character with perkiness, insecurity, girlishness, and charm. Next there is Goodman who brings his keenness to a fairly small role. And finally, we have New Jersey itself, bound up with the character Goodman plays, which emerges authentically as a state peopled by provincials who might as well - despite being only 42 miles from Manhattan - come from Piedmont, North Dakota, just like the sassy bar-owner.
"Coyote Ugly" is occasionally smart, but too often slack.
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