Striptease (1996) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski) and Tuna

At one time this was an absurdist novel with a reasonably funny premise and some comical execution. A funny thing happened on its the way to the screen. It gained two completely serious characters who occupied most of the screen time. Why?

The premise is ludicrous. A woman loses her job as a secretary in the FBI because her husband is a ne'er-do-well. At the same time, the husband turns informer to avoid jail, so when they separate, the judge awards custody of their daughter to the husband. The wife has no job, and the husband is important to crime fighting in Miami! The judge tells her that she can see her daughter for two hours every other weekend, and on Christmas.

The wife then goes to work as a stripper, and is almost immediately accosted by a drunken, horny Congressman. The rest of the plot involves the murder of people who identified the congressman at the strip club, the investigation of said murders, the congressman's attempts to bed the stripper, and the stripper's efforts to get her daughter back.

There are numerous sub-plots involving other criminal scams - the ex-husband is stealing wheelchairs, the club bouncer is hoping to sue a Yogurt manufacturer by polluting their product with insects, and pretty much everyone is blackmailing everyone else.


Demi Moore shows her breasts several times. her rear is seen many times while she is wearing a thong, and once briefly while she dances with a towel on. There is a very, very, brief look at her pubic area in the towel scene.

Many other strippers are seen topless in the club, onstage and backstage, including the monster-chested Pandora Peaks, as well as Rena Riffel and Barbara Alyn Woods

 Unfortunately, the movie decided to use the stripper character (Demi Moore) for tears, not laughs, and her attempts to get her daughter back are filled with bathos. The police officer who is investigating the murders is also played in dead seriousness by Armand Assante. In fact, the congressman's right hand man was also played as a sinister and straightforward baddie.

When they were marketing this film, they had no idea where to go. They were originally selling it as kind of a "triumph over adversity" drama, and then decided to emphasize the comic elements. Unfortunately, there weren't many worth emphasizing. The only times I laughed in this movie were when Ving Rhames was on. He played an intimidating club bouncer with a dark sense of humor. The Vinger kept insisting that he was George Bush, and the white people all thought that he looked a lot different in person. 

DVD info from Amazon.

  • Widescreen anamorphic, 1.85:1

  • no meaningful features

It isn't a good crime story because the story was only meant to carry an absurd comedy. It isn't a good comedy because the screen time is dominated by perfectly serious characters and plot elements. It's just a bad movie, and the inappropriate changes of tone make it irritating as well.

There is quite a pleasant surprise in the DVD of Striptease, since it contains material not in the video tape or the North American theatrical release. There were two areas with additional material. First, at the beginning of the film, Demi Moore did a strip which was virtually cut from the theatrical release. Second, the brief strip wherein Moore's daughter spies on her was actually a full number about three minutes long, and is restored to its full length on the DVD.


The film features a female lead with a sympathetic "tear jerker" story about losing her job with the FBI, then losing her daughter, all because of a low-life husband. In response, she did the only thing any woman could do in such a circumstance. She became the best stripper in Florida, if not the known universe.

Normally stripping takes talent and practice, making it difficult for a secretary/mommy to become the feature attraction overnight, but this is Demi Moore, and she would certainly insist on top billing for her and her silicone moneymakers. So how was she as a stripper? Well, her dancing was OK, she did some pretty graceful acrobatic moves, and she was in phenomenal shape, but she had trouble with the catch of her bra behind a boa on stage, and there was very little tease. So:

Body A
Dance B-
Acrobatics B+
Strip C
Tease C-

So much for Demi ...

This film itself is an absolute mess, with a bad plot, bad acting, worse dialogue, and very little character development. The comedic moments are  unfunny, most especially every moment Burt Reynolds is on screen in a pitiful performance as a crooked congressman. The one high spot for me was Ving Rhames as the club bouncer. He had a decent role, an actual character, and some good comedic sense.

The Critics Vote

  • General consensus: about one and a half stars. Ebert 2/4, Berardinelli 2/4, Apollo 36/100, Maltin 0/4

The People Vote ...

  • With their votes ... IMDB summary: IMDb voters score it 3.8 , Apollo users 53/100
  • With their dollars ... it was made for $50 million, which must have been all in salaries, because the story takes place in apartments, on boats, and in strip clubs! It took in $32 million in the USA, but was a surprising hit overseas, with $74 million foreign box office.
IMDb guideline: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence, about like three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, about like two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, about like two stars from the critics. Films under five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film, equivalent to about one and a half stars from the critics or less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well.

Based on this description, this film is a D (both reviewers). A $50 million dollar budget, but a very poor film. 

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