Anyone who thinks this isn't being marketed as a guy film should take a long, hard look at the trailer. Its preetty-laydee heavy three minutes doesn't have a centimetre of celluloid that isn't covered by a leather bustier, blocked out by a flashing belly button or obscured by a bare limb flailing about in time to some soft rock/country fusion. Short of having the women getting down and dirty in a vat of Budweiser, producer Jerry Bruckheimer couldn't lay a clearer trail of hormone-laced breadcrumbs to entice the lads in to ogle his latest effort.
But when that first rush of blood to the head fades away, anybody with a Y chromosome lured in to watch Coyote Ugly is going to leave it bitterly disappointed. Why? Because it's all a big con. This is not a loud and raucous, saucy, sexually-charged romp. This is a squeaky clean teenage girl-friendly photostory with barely enough - three, to be precise - strategically placed moments of sanitised sexy-stuff, strutting to keep the boys from falling asleep.
Examine the evidence: young girl goes to New York and makes new friends before meeting non-threatening boy who helps her overcome great odds in order to fulfil her dream (Her dream, specifically? Having country caterwailer LeAnn Rimes belt out her songs - firmly in most people's big book of nightmares, surely?). Stick in a lovely little pony and Just Seventeen would be scrambling for the magazine rights...
It's baffling: if the film company had tried to sell it to the right audience, they'd have pulled in respectable enough crowds, most of who would have gone away fairly happy with their Friday night time-waster. You see, Coyote Ugly (the name refers to the kind of date so hideous that you'd chew your own arm off, trapped coyote-style, to get away from) isn't really that bad a film, just as long as you're aware of what it really offers. Sure,there clearly wasn't much imagination stretching going on in either the scripting or casting meetings, but it all works well enough.
Under David McNally's direction, the story ambles easily from A to B without hitting too many bumps en route. There are sweet enough turns from Piper Perabo and Adam Garcia (as her non-threatening chap), as well as one predictably exuberant bit of scene-stealing from John Goodman. The music... Well, all right, the music is awful, but then again that's what you get for not leaving country and western (and linedancing, come to that) securely chained up in the last millennium. But put that aside and it's a professionally constructed feelgood package.
The problem is that, despite what it says on the tin, this is clearly a softcore chick flick, not a hardcore guy movie.
It's Showgirls directed by Nora Ephron! This is about as arousing as Barbie, but then - no matter what the ads scream - sex isn't its business. Lurve is. And as soppy rom-coms go, it notches up a decent enough score on the Slushometer.