Reviewed by
Colin Jacobson

Title: Coyote Ugly: Special Edition (2000)
Studio Line: Touchstone Pictures - Tonight, they're calling the shots.

From hit-making producer Jerry Bruckheimer (Gone In 60 Seconds, Armageddon) comes Coyote Ugly, the intoxicating sexy comedy starring an unbeatable cast of hot, new stars including Piper Perabo (Rocky And Bullwinkle) and Maria Bello (Payback). Moving to New York to pursue her dream of becoming a famous songwriter, Violet Sanford (Perabo) finds herself desperate and broke. Through a twist of fate, the shy, innocent Violet lands a job as one of the barmaids at the hottest nightclub in town -- the down and dirty, wild and fun Coyote Ugly. Pouring drinks and overflowing with attitude, the "Coyotes" spend more time on top of the bar than behind it, tantalizing the standing-room-only crowd with their outrageous antics! It's one wild adventure for a small-town girl chasing her dream in the big city.

Director: David McNally
Cast: Piper Perabo, Adam Garcia, Maria Bello, John Goodman, Tyra Banks, Melanie Lynskey, Adam Alexi-Malle, Izabella Miko, Bridget Moynahan
Box Office: Budget: $45 million. Opening Weekend: $17.319 million (2653 screens). Gross: $60.78 million.
DVD: Widescreen 1.85:1/16x9; audio English DD & DTS 5.1, French DD 5.1; subtitles Spanish; closed-captioned; single sided - dual layered; 28 chapters; rated PG-13; 101 min.; $29.99; street date 1/16/01.
Supplements: Additional Scenes Not Seen In Theaters; Behind-The-Scenes Featurettes - Coyote 101: How To Be A Coyote; Inside The Songs: Search For The Stars; Le Ann Rimes Music Video; Audio Commentaries With Producer Jerry Bruckheimer, Director David McNally And The Coyotes; "Action Overload" Reel Featuring The Hottest Moments From The Movie - Music Video-Style; Theatrical Trailer.
Purchase: DVD | Music soundtrack - Various Artists

Picture/Sound/Extras: A-/A-/B

Plop it into the category of “guilty pleasures”, I suppose, but I must admit it: I rather enjoyed Coyote Ugly, and not just for the obvious reasons. Yes, as a heterosexual male, I found the sight of a bunch of nubile young babes as they gyrate on a bar to be visually stimulating, and that aspect of the story is clearly what got the movie made. However, even without that element, I thought CU was a surprisingly engaging little flick.

The story won’t win any awards for originality. Naïve young Violet Sanford (Piper Perabo) makes the move to Manhattan from New Jersey. Though this trek is geographically minor, it represents a large leap for her mind set as she goes to the big city to establish herself as a songwriter. Once there, she encounters many frustrations as music publishers tell her they won’t accept unsolicited material. It turns out that the only way she’ll get her music heard is to perform it live at the city’s many “open mic” nights. The problem? Violet suffers from severe stage fright and can’t bring herself to sing.

Down on her luck, Violet encounters some brassy young women at a late-night diner. They’re flush with cash from their job, and once Violet finds out they a) aren’t prostitutes and b) one will quit soon to go to law school, she endeavors to take over the soon-to-be-vacant position. They all work at hot bar Coyote Ugly, a place where the fiery babes are the main attraction and there’s always a rowdy crowd.

Violet works her way through the inevitable hurdles and eventually develops some confidence in her newfound career. She also develops a romance with hunkie Aussie Kevin (Adam Garcia), but she still can’t quite bring herself to sing her songs on stage, no matter how much support Kevin offers. Inevitably, things take a turn for the worse, but not for one minute do we believe a rebound won’t occur. I don’t think I’ll spoil the experience if I reveal it does, and all ends happily.

To call the plot stale and cliché is an understatement; we’ve seen this kind of story thousands of times. However, it actually works fairly well here. Although virtually no real character development exists, I still found myself caring about the participants, and I was happy to see the successes that greeted cute little Violet. (No, my interest wasn’t simply because she was sexy; Perabo also appeared in last summer’s God-awful Bullwinkle movie, and I couldn’t stand her in that.)

Is Coyote Ugly somewhat cheap and manipulative? Yup. During her inevitable “bad period” - prior to her triumphant ending, of course - Violet goes through nastiness that’d make Job wince; the level of bad luck she experiences seemed excessive, to say the least. At best, the characters are shallow and artificial, and most of them don’t even get that much exposition; the other women at the bar barely qualify as unidimensional.

But I didn’t care. Coyote Ugly is a slick and entertaining little no-brain movie that did what it set out to do: offer a visceral and charming tale of success in the big city. You won’t want to mull over its complexities when it ends; in fact, you probably will forget it immediately once the DVD ceases to spin. However, for what’s it worth, the movie was fun and relatively charming.

The DVD:

Coyote Ugly appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. As I expect of such a recent movie, the picture looked consistently excellent, with only a few small concerns.

Sharpness appeared very strong throughout the film. At all times, the image seemed crisp and detailed with virtually no instances of softness or fuzziness. I saw a few examples of exceedingly modest moiré effects, but no jagged edges appeared. Print flaws were also minor, though they seemed somewhat excessive for a 2000 release. Intermittent white speckles cropped up through the movie, and I saw a little black grit as well. Otherwise, CU was clean and fresh, with no signs of more significant defects like scratches, blotches, tears, or grain.

Colors looked nicely bright and vibrant throughout the film. The movie often favored some stylized colors similar to those found in music videos, and the hues always came across as accurate and clearly saturated. More natural tones also seemed rich and clean. Black levels looked very deep and dark, while shadow detail appeared appropriately heavy but never excessively thick. CU featured more than a few low-light sequences, and these always looked great; even during scenes in near-total darkness, the images were nicely visible. Ultimately, this was a terrific transfer despite some minor print concerns.

Also very strong were the soundtracks of Coyote Ugly. We find both Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS 5.1 mixes here, both of which seemed pretty similar. As usual, the DTS track appeared somewhat more rich and deep and it portrayed a moderately broader and better-placed environment, but as a whole, the two mixes were very similar. I’d give the DTS track the edge, but not to a significant degree; both were quite satisfying.

The soundfield mainly focused on the mix of pop music heard throughout the film, and these tunes and showcased neatly. The songs spread clearly across the forward speakers and they also receive strong reinforcement from the rears; during the “action” sequences in the bar, the music really takes over the mix to nice advantage. Effects also benefited from the broad and engaging soundfield, though to a lesser degree. This wasn’t the kind of movie that used lots of positional audio, but the sound designers were able to create a fairly involving presence for a variety of effects, and they appeared to pan across channels smoothly.

Audio quality seemed solid. Dialogue always appeared distinct and natural, with no signs of edginess or problems related to intelligibility. Effects came across as clean and realistic without any distortion. Music remained the star of the show, and the songs appeared bright and bold. The tunes displayed fine clarity and boasted nice bass response; the soundtrack cleanly represented the original tracks. All in all, the audio added a positive dimension to the film.

Note that a brief audio drop-out occurs toward the end of the film if you screen the DTS track. Right at the 95 minute mark, there’s a small “jump” in the audio right before the credits roll. Although different results may occur on various players and receivers, I found the skip to be rather minor; depending on your system, you may not even notice the blip.

Although Coyote Ugly isn’t exactly packed with extras, it does include a nice complement of supplements, starting with a running audio commentary from the Coyotes themselves. Yes, that means we get remarks from the sexy young actresses involved: Piper Perabo, Tyra Banks, Maria Bello, Bridgett Moynahan, and Izabella Miko. This track was somewhat screen specific, though the topics varied a lot, and seemed to mostly have been recorded in one session with all of the ladies present; however, it sounded like some of the statements - especially those from Bello - may have come from a separate taping.

Nonetheless, it’s clear that the women gathered together for most of the commentary, and this fact makes the track much more fun than one might expect. The actress provide no terrific revelations, but their spunky energy is contagious and they gave me a perspective that usually doesn’t get covered. It’s not a fantastically-informative piece but it was very entertaining and charming, and I definitely enjoyed it.

Two “mini-commentaries” appear on the DVD as well. We get some brief remarks from both producer Jerry Bruckheimer and director David McNally. These men provide a few mildly interesting statements but don’t tell us much of substance, mainly due to the brevity of their pieces; each one speaks for only about five minutes each.

Because those commentaries are so short and they jump from scene to scene, their presentation could have been very frustrating, but the folks at Touchstone made sure we’d be able to view them with ease. Each commentary has an index that will let you check out the different subjects one by one or take in the tracks as a whole; through that option, the DVD will skip about the disc to present all of each man’s statements back to back. I really appreciated this option as it made a potentially annoying task much simpler.

Most of the rest of the disc’s extras consist of video snippets connected by a common theme. Happily, these areas also include the “Play All” option, so I didn’t have to constantly return to menus to check out the next part. Since the various bits are pretty short, this was a very useful feature.

“Search for the Stars” uses three mini-pieces to look at how the various actors got their roles. The first takes on Perabo, while the second examines the other Coyotes and the last one discusses Garcia. These run a total of 10 minutes and 48 seconds and rarely go beyond the kind of material you’d find in the usual promotional featurette. Best of the bunch is Perabo’s area, if just because it includes parts of her screen-test. Ultimately the clips are watchable but unspectacular.

Next up is “Inside the Songs”, a three minute and 35 second section that looks at the movie’s (lame) music. Most of the tracks were composed by schlockmeister extraordinaire Diane Warren, and we hear from her and singer LeAnn Rimes in addition to various cast and crew. The excessive praise of Warren nauseated me, but otherwise the piece was decent. Most interesting to me was the fact Rimes did all of Perabo’s singing in the film - as Johnny Carson used to say, I did not know that!

“Coyote 101” gives us three more mini-features, all of which concentrate on the work the actresses had to do for their roles. These run a total of six minutes and 40 seconds. As with the other pieces, the clips are moderately interesting but nothing especially compelling.

“Additional Scenes” features five different deleted clips. These last a total of six minutes and 55 seconds. For the most part, these expand upon some of the characters; Melanie Lynskey’s Beth receives the most attention. None of them were especially great scenes, but it’s nice to see a little excised material.

Less useful is “Action Overload”. A similar feature appeared on Gone In Sixty Seconds; we find 65 seconds worth of the movie’s “action clips”. It seems kind of pointless to me, but if it interests you, have fun!

Lastly, we discover the film’s theatrical trailer and the music video for LeAnn Rimes’ version of “Can’t Fight the Moonlight”. Yes, it’s another craptacular tune from Diane Warren, and the video conveniently consists entirely of snippets from the movie. We see Rimes’ end-of-the-film performance of the song interspersed with the usual array of different shots from the flick. It’s nothing special, but it’s not terrible.

Note that although the DVD’s case mentions a featurette called “How to Be a Coyote”, I couldn’t locate such a program on the disc. If it’s in there, they’ve hidden it very well.

As is typical for DVDs from Buena Vista, Coyote Ugly opens with ads for some other films. We get promos for the DVDs of Shanghai Noon and Gone In Sixty Seconds. The snippets are easily skipped; just hit “menu” and that’s that.

When they announced Academy Award nominees in another month, I don’t expect to see Coyote Ugly mentioned in any categories, but that doesn’t make it a terrible film. Though it was formulaic and predictable, the movie portrays its subject with enough spark and energy to make it worth a look. The DVD offers excellent picture and sound plus some semi-superficial but fun extras. Coyote Ugly may not be a classic, but it’s a fairly charming diversion.

Menu: DVD Movie Guide | Archive | Top