After flunking her audition for Chicago's School of Music and Dance, smalltown girl Lauryn (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) takes a job doing the books at Ruby's, the hottest burlesque bar in town. But it soon becomes clear that her paperwork is nothing compared to her footwork. Most teen-aimed movies are pretty slick when it comes to dancing and romancing, but accountancy? Shut up!
Mary Elizabeth Winstead
Flashdance gets a makeover and the results are Coyote Ugly in this teen trifle which couldn't be more disposable if it came free with a copy of Sugar magazine.
After defying death in Final Destination 3, Death Proof and Die Hard 4.0, Winstead here takes her professional life into her hands to play Lauryn, a 21-year-old who escapes the ennui of Indiana by throwing shapes in her cellar.
Having kept the books for her sulky mechanic brother Joel since their parents died, Lauryn finally tries to get into Chicago's most prestigious dance school.
Sadly, her unique (i.e. awful) style fails to impress the judges. But her despondency lifts within hours as waitress/dancer Dana (Tessa Thompson) takes her in and finds her an accounting job at ultracool nitespot Ruby's.
This is the sort of place where any sisterz with moovz can do it for themselvz. So it's not long before Lauryn is rubbing shoulders and bumping booties on the rotating bar with the other raunch queens: Dana, the blonde one, and the bitchy one who can't lip-synch.
It helps that she's championed by the club's resident DJ, Russ (Riley Smith, whose resemblance to the young Freddie Starr shouldn't disturb the film's teen audience). His mixing may be on a par with his cooking, but it's all about the vibes, right?
But just as Lauryn finds the confidence to retake the big entrance audition, along comes Joel to lay a guilt trip on her about the ailing family business. Like, is he for real?
Linking its numerous dance numbers (which frankly aren't all that) with important life lessons about following your dream, expressing your individuality and looking good in Lycra, this awesomely unambitious film has all the depth of a Pepsi ad.
Hotpants and hair-tossing can take you so far, but after sitting through the umpteenth shopping montage and yet another slo-mo prance in a puddle, you'll wish they'd make it stop.