Would consenting adults flock to a crime thriller with the emphasis on sex? 1992’s Basic Instinct proved that they would, but 1996’s Striptease notably failed to manage the same trick, despite a record-breaking $12.5 million salary for star Demi Moore. Critics love to deride films with sexual content, preferring to suggest that they are above whatever blandishments are offered, but with our new and improved understanding of male-female relations, can we safely return to Striptease?
This is an adaptation of a darkly comic crime-novel by writer Carl Hiaasen, and feels much in the genre of Elmore Leonard. We follow a diverse group of low-lives as their paths collide in a Miami backwater; amongst them is FBI secretary turned stripper Erin (Demi Moore) who is fighting for custody of her kid against Darrell Grant (Robert Patrick), who is using the kid as cover for a spate of thefts of hospital equipment, namely wheel-chairs. With the justice system rigged against her, Erin agrees to work undercover exposing a sex-crazed congressman David Dilbeck, played in a white-toupee and with vaseline in his boots by Burt Reynolds. Also along for the ride are Erin’s protector Shad (Ving Rhames) and his pet monkey, plus worldly cop Al Garcia (Armand Assante). Can Erin navigate the perps and the pervs and escape with her child?
Much has been made of Moore’s dour presence here, but she’s supposedly fighting for her child’s life, so that gets a pass; she’s in character. Some of the comedy in Andrew Bergman’s film leans a little too far into broadness, but the basic story set-up is fine and Haiaasen was reportedly delighted by the final film. Bergman was determined to show the less exotic side of the adult entertainment industry, and makes a few surprising calls; the music of the Eurythmics (Little Bird, Sweet Dreams) is used, not once, not twice, not three times, but so many times I generally lost count. Presumably this is intended to the repetitive side of Erin’s daily rehearsals and nightly grind, but the effect on the casual viewer of listening to the same track over and over again is something of a grind itself.
Striptease is a remarkably un-erotic film, but it’s a better than average crime-thriller with some salty characters and a propulsive, scabrous plot. Despite a dense storyline, the narrative gets worse as it goes along, and the conclusion is less than rousing. The director notes the film ended up with a more-than-healthy take on home video, but Stiptease’s drear reputation isn’t entirely deserved; it’s a glitzy yet sleazy slice of Miami low-life action. And after all, this is the story of a wronged woman getting her way, so it’s heart is in the right place even if everything else is as all-over-the-shop as Ving Rhames’ pet monkey
I always felt like Demi was lost. Like she wandered onto a set and someone said – start acting! and she kinda sorta did but was just looking for the exit. She just never loses that deer-in-headlights look. is that what people think of as sexy? Hmm.
The picture that I used for my review illustrates your point perfectly. The film-makers made this character out to be far more unworldly than in the book. I’d have preferred her to have Clarise Starling agency, but no…
Striptease was mostly affected by Showgirls’ poor performance. They purposefully leaned into comedy to differentiate the films. Both movies ironically share a very naked Rena Riffel and a dance choreographer if I’m not mistaken. It’s bad, but I think people call Striptease the “worst movie ever made,” because it was so close to Showgirls.
I wondered about Rena Riffel; I thought I was imagining her here, because I remembered her from Showgirls. But I also suspect a pile-on of critics keen to rip both of these films apart; they’re not so bad, there’s just a LOT of virtue signalling going on…
Think I’m more likely to read the book.
The book, from all accounts, is far better.
Huh. I’ll check it out…
Lol that film poster cuased quite a stir in South Africa back in the day. Being as conservative as it was back then. And it wasnt even close to what the title suggested. Great review man.
I can tell you’re still affected by seeing it! Cheers!
The idea would probably have worked better without all the ballast Moore brought to the table. Although considered a flop it did better than break-even, collaring $100 million worldwide. But this and GI Jane pretty much brought to a premature close Moore’s period as a top box office draw.
GI Jane is much better from Moore than this, but you could remake this story and get better results…
GI Jane played more to her strengths and of course it didn’t hurt to have Ridley Scott in charge.
I’ll accept this answer.
You will, will you?
Well, to keep the peace I guess I’ll let you accept my answer.
Goodness, I’m such a saint….
And I welcome your acceptance. This is no GI Jane.
Nope, no GI Jane indeed. Which, as you and I both know, is the epitome of military movies.
Certainly it’s the film that inspired my career as a parachute…
Did this film make you start wearing kilts? Kind of a proto-stripper?
Or were you wearing kilts before it was cool?
Kilts have always been cool. And I wore mine well before this film. Let me be clear; I have drawn no inspiration from this film, GI Jane only.
Glad we could clear that up.
Little things like this are what can make life’s road rough if not cleared up quickly.
Was this one of those “because I’m a completionist” movies or were you secretly enticed to watch it anyway? The Public wants to know!
I may be one of the few who approached this because I like the kind of writing the book is based on. Unfortunately they decided to sell it on sex, and it didn’t work out. But yes, in your honour, I’m aiming to get my Moore and Caine completist badges.
I did find it interesting that this was based on a book. Amazing how many movies have a book under the hood in one way or another.
I can understand the Caine badge, but what drew you into getting your Moore badge?
You did, sir. Your influence.
Uh oh, so now I have to take responsibility?
Sen-pai, I take full responsibility!
That’s the spirit! And who’s complaining? Demi Moore’s GI Jane is an inspirational film and no mistake. No shame in exhuming her other work…
Well, I’m complaining. Taking responsibility is a lot of work. And its the weekend!
Ok, I’ll take responsibility, you have the rest of the weekend off! Enjoy!
i’ll try. Sometimes taking a day off is as hard work as working!
Just can’t please some people 😉
Haven’t seen this, but I have read the book so that’s Ok. Hiassen’s latest is funny as ever, a great satire on America’s recent president.
He’s a good writer, and I’ve heard good things about his take on Trump. Lucky You was good too.