The Big Apple is home to a surplus of unique attraction and places. Those that stand out usually have a gimmick or unique selling point. One in particular gained fame and or infamy (depending on who you ask) for having their staff occasionally perform dances of a captivating nature. In the year 2000, the famous setting of the controversial bar became the backdrop for a story about love and dreams in the big city. The tales of the staff of the Coyote Ugly.
South Amboy, NJ native, Violet has just left her home town for the dream of songwriting in New York. To make ends meet, she takes up bartending at Coyote Ugly, A unique basement bar known for the alluring dances of the female bar staff, while she takes a while to warm up to the owner, she quickly finds her place as one of the girls. Violet also quickly meets Kevin, a handsome carefree seducer, who through persistence and commitment tries to help Violet overcome stage fright and win her heart. As her dreams, love life and her job at Coyote Ugly clash, Violet tries to balance them all as she attempts to make herself in the world of the music industry.
A rom-com about an underground bar does not seem like it would work on paper, but despite sharing the name with the film, Coyote Ugly takes more of a back-seat role to the toils of Violet. It is nice seeing the romanticised depiction of an artist struggling in New York. None of the depressing and harrowing realities (that some depictions love to gloat in is present). Our protagonist face obstacles sure, but the way they are presented has a sitcom-like feel. She is not alone in her efforts, with help from aforementioned untiring Kevin, momentously captured by Adam Garcia, and her father played by John Goodman, who wants nothing more than a bucket of chicken, and his daughter to return home safely.
There is a strong debate about whether what the dances the staff does are empowering that runs through the real establishment, and while references to the debate pop up, especially towards the end. The staff seem okay with it or are at least depicted as being okay and sometimes use their skills to their advantages, such as distracting opposing softball teams. The songs and soundtrack manage to capture the zeitgeist and LeAnn Rimes does a great job here with the original compositions. It helps capture that feel of early 2000s culture, as do a lot of the outfits.
The thing about Coyote Ugly is that it manages to both be about the establishment and has nothing to do with it. Like Saturday Night Fever, it captures a snapshot of the culture time, that now seems quaint and distant. But like most rom-coms, it is essentially a fantasy of love and aspiration, and a healthy look at comradery and sisterhood too. A well that has been drawn upon before yet manages to find a spark and become the classic it rightfully deserves. In short, Coyote Ugly is a fun tale, and I am glad that it finally found its voice.
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