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Showgirls was a 1995 sexploitation film directed by Paul Verhoeven. The only movie to wide release under the NC-17 rating, this tale of the lives of Vegas strippers set to the plot of 42nd Street may have been partially responsible for the rating's decline; it was basically an X-rated movie that went through the ratings process (which was and is not required for an X rating).
The film tells the tale of Nomi Malone (Elizabeth Berkley), a country girl who hitchhikes to Las Vegas in hopes of becoming "a dancer" and eventually (after a lot of nudity, a lot of sleaze, a little violence, and a lot of choreographed numbers) making her way to the top.
Common reactions are split between thinking it's a campy, So Bad It's Good, Cult Classic or just plain bad. It doesn't quite seem to know if it's a comedy or drama or a combination of the two or something else entirely. Although some have called it a satire of the human condition and the relationships between women. Or a non-trashy movie that happens to be about trashy people. Or a parody of misogynistic exploitation films. Or simply a bad movie.
Showgirls provides examples of:
- Asshole Victim: Andrew Carver
- Bechdel Test: Technically passes.
- Black Best Friend: Molly.
- Break the Cutie: Poor, poor Molly.
- Chekhov's Gun: The stairs at the Goddess.
- Chorus Girls
- Conveniently an Orphan: Nomi
- Dog Food Diet: Nomi is sheepish about having to eat it once. Cristal, on the other hand, is perfectly open about developing a taste for Doggie Chow.
- Even Evil Has Standards: Nomi. She was perfectly willing to do what came down to live, on-stage lesbian sex, screwing her boss to get a higher position, and pushing the lead dancer down the stairs to get her job, but she won't use ice cubes to make her nipples perky. You have to draw the line somewhere.
- Fan Service: It is its raison d'être.
- Fee Fi Faux Pas: Nomi humiliates herself in an interview by mispronouncing "Versace".
- From the Mouths of Babes: Inverted. One showgirl brings her kids into the dressing room, and while neither of them notice or care about being surrounded by topless women, they go ballistic when another woman swears at them.
- Gratuitous Rape: Andrew raping Molly, who was perfectly willing to sleep with him on her own volition.
- Hell-Bent for Leather: The biker stage show.
- Hollywood Sex: The legendary pool sex scene.
- I Did What I Had to Do: Word for word.
- Informed Ability:
- Nomi is supposed to be a brilliant dancer, but if you actually watch her dance she's not all that good.
- She's also supposed to be streetwise, but she really seems naive at times and falls for things someone genuinely streetwise never would have.
- Informed Attractiveness: There is a lot of fuss made about Nomi's hotness, particularly her breasts, which are just standard breasts really.
- Lame Comeback: "You're gonna jump to your conclusion!"
- Meaningful Name: Nomi Malone. Because she's trying to hide her past (No Me) and she feels all alone in the world (Malone).
- No Periods, Period: Averted. James doesn't believe Nomi has her period, so she challenges him to check... and he does. With his fingers. She wasn't lying.
- Not So Different: Cristal is proud of Nomi for having lied, cheated, and backstabbed her way to the top because she did the exact same thing to the lead showgirl before.
- Pay Evil Unto Evil: Nomi kicking the ever-loving shit out of rapist Andrew Carver.
- Rape as Drama
- Real Men Hate Affection: Al's parting line to Nomi ("Must be weird...not to have anyone...come on you.") is intended as a heartfelt farewell.
- Recycled in Space: Any number of backstage movies AT A BURLESQUE SHOW. Parallels with All About Eve have been pointed out.
- Staircase Tumble
- Two-Person Pool Party: The one in this film (NSFW) is infamous.
- Your Approval Fills Me with Shame: Just as Cristal has almost successfully seduced Nomi, she tells her "Y'see, darlin'? You are a whore." causing her to snap out of it and storm off.
"Man, everybody got AIDS and shit."