July 15, 2020

YOU DON'T NOMI: Tribute to a Trainwreck

Featuring Adam Nayman, April Kidwell, Peaches Christ, archival footage of Paul Verhoeven, Joe Eszterhas, Elizabeth Berkley, Gina Gershon, Kyle MacLachlan. Directed by Jeffrey McHale. (2019/92 min)

Review by Fluffy the Fearless😽

Ultimately, the greatest thing about this documentary of Showgirls is it spares future generations from having to endure the agony of Showgirls.

You Don't Nomi is chock-full of the movie's most infamous moments...athletic sex, campy catfights, brain-dead dialogue, delirious dance numbers and, of course, Elizabeth Berkley's bug-eyed, vein-bursting method acting. It's all accompanied by commentary from a variety of people who've written extensively about it or carved little careers from its legacy, including a guy who wrote an entire book of Showgirls poetry. In other words, one doesn't necessarily have to see Showgirls to enjoy this film.

Not a documentary in the purest sense, You Don't Nomi is a subjective, semi-snarky look at one of Hollywood's most notorious trainwrecks. Some of the film delves into its production, but mostly focuses on the aftermath. Over the years, Showgirls' status slowly elevated from a legendary flop to a camp classic on par with Mommie Dearest and Valley of the Dolls. None of the participants explicitly defend the film, but some do offer a bit of re-evalution, while others lovingly embrace its sheer awfulness (such a drag performer Peaches Christ, who was inspired to create a stage musical).

"I love boobies."
Most interesting are the discussions about director Paul Verhoeven and screenwriter Joe Eszterhas, who previously collaborated on the equally controversial Basic Instinct. Accompanied by vintage interviews and ample scenes of his other films, the general consensus is that Verhoeven might be slightly nuts (but we knew that already). Eszterhas, on the other hand, comes across as hilariously pretentious and tone-deaf. Somewhat amusingly, Berkley's performance and career are generally regarded with a considerable amount of sympathy.

But best of all, one can now avoid the masochistic experience of checking-out Showgirls themselves. You Don't Nomi includes all of the highlights (and plethora of lowlights) along with affectionate, colorful commentary to make it more entertaining than the film that inspired it.


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