While the film has started to fade from pop culture consciousness at this point, "Showgirls" still remains a landmark for being the most widely distributed NC-17 film of all time, at one point hitting more than 1,250 screens. Oddly enough (or maybe not that oddly), the picture was not a success in theaters (making only about half its budget), but was a huge success on home video.
Elizabeth Berkley (whose main previous experience was "Saved by the Bell") plays Nomi Malone, a drifter with a rather loony temper who finds herself setting off to Las Vegas to become a dancer. Once there, she finds herself in competition with the local star (Gina Gershon), and helped by a couple of friends to learn the secrets of the trade as she tries to get to the top.
The script is rather dismal, throwing out every variation on "It's my dream!" or "I'm going to win!" or "you've got to be tough". The film's cliched lines have an appeal as heavy cheese and while that does result in some delightfully good unintentional humor, the picture's sleek, chilly nature does dampen the unintentional humor somewhat. Is the film sexy? The film's rather cold nature also takes away from that, as well as the rather overlong running time of 131 minutes.
The performances are also lackluster, and while Berkley may have fit some of the requirements of the role, the film presents her as an underdog, and it's difficult to feel sympathy for the character given the performance. It would have been interesting to see a stronger actress in the role (Charlize Theron was rumored to have auditioned for the role) - while the script would almost certainly have been the same, a stronger actress would have made for a very different (and with a stronger core, at least somewhat improved) film. Supporting performances by Gina Gershon and Kyle McLachlan are somewhat better, but not enough for assist Berkley in trying to carry the film.
Overall, "Showgirls" still stands as an experiment on how far the envelope could be pushed - the movie itself has more than a few flaws, but will always likely have a cult following.
The DVD edition of the film is also offered.
VIDEO: "Showgirls" is presented by 20th Century Fox in 2.35:1 (1080p/AVC) and the results are an improvement over the DVD edition. Sharpness and detail are fairly good, even in some of the film's many dimly-lit sequences. Some minor edge enhancement and light artifacting did appear in a few scenes, but the elements used looked clean. Colors looked bright and well-saturated, with no smearing or other faults.
SOUND: The film is presented in DTS-HD 5.1. Surprisingly, "Showgirls" offers a pretty strong audio presentation - even during some of the more dialogue-driven scenes, even small sounds are placed creatively around the viewer. The bigger Vegas numbers really explode from all sides, filling the room with music and other effects. The hilarious dialogue sounds clear and easily understandable.
EXTRAS: The 15th Anniversary Edition of the film offers such extras as a "Lap Dance Tutorial from the Girls of Scores", "A Showgirls Diary", "Pole Dancing: Finding Your Inner Stripper", pop-up trivia, audio commentary from David Schmader and the trailer. To quote "Anchorman": "Stay classy, San Diego."
Final Thoughts: Overall, "Showgirls" still stands as an experiment on how far the envelope could be pushed - the movie itself has more than a few flaws, but will always likely have a cult following. The Blu-Ray edition of the film offers fine audio/video quality, as well as a handful of extras. Recommended for fans.
The Film C-