Nice girl goes to the big bad city and... stays nice. This fresh approach to sex drugs and rock 'n' roll deserves one cheer from the moral majority.

Images of Flashdance return from that place in the memory reserved for never-again, although Coyote Ugly makes a better attempt at staying in the real world with its use of genuine New York locations and an Aussie juve lead (Adam Garcia), who doesn't have that West Coast glaze.

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Piper Perabo could be a shy 19-year-old Julia Roberts. She has the tumbling blonde tresses favoured by pubescent pop singers and plays Violet, a dedicated New Jersey songwriter, who suffers stage fright.

She leaves her widowed father (John Goodman), a toll road operative, who sits around the house stuffing his face with junk food, and makes the short trip to the Big Apple to sell her songs.

After multiple rejections, implying that the record business couldn't care less, she meets Kevin (Garcia), an itinerant washer-upper, who treats her like a person rather than a sex object, and discovers Coyote Ugly, a watering hole by the docks, where the female staff dance on the bar in high boots and skimpy minis.

In the Flashdance tradition, eroticism has a gloss to it. Violet is hired by Lil (Maria Bello), the Coyote den mother, because "you look like a kindergarten teacher. The kids love it." The kids are grown men, who crush to the bar, baying like hyenas.

The film is fizzy and sweet. It doesn't add up to a hill of beans, but is easy on the eye and so harmless you learn to love its false optimism.

Goodman is the Beast to Perabo's Beauty and having him there, even fleetingly, adds weight to what otherwise is a glamour shoot.

Reviewed on: 19 Jan 2001
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A smalltown girl heads for the bright lights to make it as a singer.
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John Gallagher ***

Director: David McNally

Writer: Gina Wendkos

Starring: Piper Perabo, Adam Garcia, Maria Bello, Melanie Lynskey, Izabella Miko, Bridget Moynahan, Tyra Banks, John Goodman

Year: 2000

Runtime: 101 minutes

BBFC: 12 - Age Restricted

Country: US


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