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So Much More Than The Preview
on August 24, 2000
A talented young woman from New Jersey, filled with hope and desire, moves to New York to chase her dreams of becoming a songwriter in "Coyote Ugly," directed by David McNally and starring Piper Perabo. Against the wishes of her father, Bill (John Goodman), but with his acquiescent approval, Violet (Perabo) begins her quest and soon learns what every aspiring newcomer to show business discovers: It's tough out there. Soon, in order to pay the rent and keep the dream alive, on a tip she seeks employment in a bar called Coyote Ugly; the owner, Lil (Maria Bello) lets her "audition (work one night)" to see if she can handle their kind of action. It's a tough gig, but Violet knows she's going to have to make certain sacrifices if she's to succeed. And that is really what this movie is all about: Personal character, having the tenacity to maintain ideals and dignity, and deciding what and how much one must be willing to sacrifice to achieve one's goals; and most importantly, having enough heart to see it all through. Perabo gives a winning performance as Violet; she's fresh, somewhat naive (but not entirely), and the way she presents her character makes it easy to connect with her right away. She becomes someone you care about quickly, and there are moments early on, especially when she first arrives in New York, that allow you to emphasize with her immediately. There's a fragility about her, but at the same time she exhibits a strength of character and sense of morality that is becoming; and being able to convey this level of complexity convincingly is a tribute to her ability as an actress. John Goodman also does a good job as her father, a caring bear of a man who obviously has nothing but the best intentions for his daughter at heart. His performance, and the way the situation of his having to let Violet go is handled makes it believable, and helps create an emotional bond between them and the audience. It's something with which many will be able to identify, and it becomes one of the underlying strengths of the film. One of the weaknesses of this project comes, not from the movie itself, but from the "promotion" of the movie; in this case the theatrical trailer, which is a gross misrepresentation of what "Coyote Ugly" really is. Certainly the "coyotes" and the bar are a significant part of the film, and it's all exceptionally well and tastefully done, and is a fun part of the movie and definitely gives it some life; but I think the presentation in the trailer will do more to alienate a cross-section of audience that ultimately would appreciate this movie, but initially at least will not even see it, and only because of a misconception caused by the preview. It must be noted that this is a PG-13; there is nary a profane word, and no sex or nudity in it. It is an upbeat, entertaining film that should be readily embraced by a much wider audience than one would expect simply from seeing the trailer. The excellent supporting cast includes Adam Garcia (Kevin), Izabella Miko (Cammie), Melanie Lynskey (Gloria), Bridget Moynahan (Rachel), Tyra Banks (Zoe) and LeAnn Rimes (In a cameo as herself). Hopefully, if only by word-of-mouth, this movie will gain the audience it deserves. Reminiscent of "Flashdance," there is a universal theme here of having a dream and going for it. In the final analysis, "Coyote Ugly" is a decent film that will appeal to anyone who's ever had or pursued a dream. Do yourself a favor, put any preconceived notions aside and check this one out; I think you'll be glad you did.