Adam Nayman gives us a bit of background about director Paul Verhoeven, writer Joe Eszterhas, and actress Elizabeth Berkley. There is a lot more info about Verhoeven’s film career than I care about, but these earlier films are mentioned to prove that Showgirls was meant to be the horrible film that it was. The argument is put forward that all of Verhoeven’s films are more, or less, than they appear to be on the surface.
We learn that Joe Eszerhas made millions for the scripts of both Basic Instinct and Showgirls.And it is amazing to watch the credits roll and see Joe Ezserhas’s name appear immediately after Paul Verhoeven’s. When was the last time a screenwriter got second billing on a movie?
And lastly we hear about one fantastic bit of overacting Berkley did as a caffeine addict on Saved By The Bell. Is this scene why Verhoeven picked her for the part? Her acting in Showgirls is one over the top moment after another.
If you haven’t seen Showgirls, you should watch it before reading the book.Spoilers, if such is possible for a film like Showgirls.
It Doesn’t Suck is a fun book and a pretty short one, it’s 195 pages zip by quickly. The bulk of the book is a blow by blow, shot by shot retelling and examining of Showgirls. We find out about mirrors, mirroring, and how the opening and the ending are the same, down to ridiculous levels. We see that all black people are meant to be servants, that men are all nothing but bastards, that women are nothing but whores, and that life in Las Vegas is one disappointment after another.
I watched a film called Room 237, which was about a group of people who spent way too much time watching Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining. Every frame was examined and each person in Room 237 had a different interpretation as to what it all meant. It Doesn’t Suck has the same kind of, GET A LIFE! feel to it. Showgirls, like The Shining, was just a movie for crying out loud.
So, is Showgirls a work of art or a piece of shit? In the end, Adam Nayman doesn’t take a stand. He does tell us that Showgirls went on to have an afterlife as a Midnight Movie, making over 100 Million over the years. So it has found an audience.