003797Reviews & Counting
Dancing at the Blue Iguana
DVD disk
10.08.2004 By: JoBlo
Dancing at the Blue Iguana order
Michael Radford

Daryl Hannah
Jennifer Tilly
Sandra Oh


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The story of a handful of strippers working in a place called "The Blue Iguana". One girl is tall, dumb and stoned, another is Asian, has a great ass and likes poetry, the next one is a loud-mouth bitch who finds out that she's pregnant and becomes an even bigger bitch, and the last one, well, I'm not entirely sure what her deal was, but her brother was in town and something was up with that. Either way, they all fall into some kind of unfortunate circumstance during our time together and show us lots of flesh in the meantime. Interested?
A movie about strippers. Good. A movie featuring lots of nudity, including actresses Daryl Hannah and Jennifer Tilly's boobs and ass. Still good. A movie that apparently didn't have a script and was completely improvised by the actors in workshops months before shooting began. Hmmmmm, interesting but not always successful. A movie that lasts way too long (two hours), features too many characters with too little substance, uninvolving stories all around and a wicked sniff of pretension. Not good...not good at all! Basically, if you're gonna rent this movie because you want to see naked girls, then you might be somewhat entertained (yes, the stripping scenes are a-plenty and well directed). Mind you, we only get T&A, so if you're looking for "P", rent porno. If, on the other hand, you actually think that you might get caught up in the stories of these very sexy ladies, well, unfortunately for them (and us), none of them are engaging, and pretty much all of their supposed "stories" turn out to be predictable, lame and just plain stupid (even sadder is that most of our time is spent with Hannah and Tilly's characters, who are actually the least interesting and most one-dimensional-- one is an idiot, the other, a loud-mouth-- I'll let you guess which is which).

On top of that, even though the movie seems to go on forever, it sadly leaves many questions unanswered, like why this one girl got the snot beat out of her by her boyfriend one day, why every single "client" in the strip joint looks like an extra paid to be there, what the heck what that whole "Russian hitman" thing all about, and was there an "incest" subplot in there somewhere? Huh?? The film seems to want to try to make us understand these girls better, but unfortunately, the script, and to be honest, most of the actresses just aren't up to snuff. Most of the blame should be placed on the director though, since in this type of "experimental" film, it's up to him to rally up a good story, and to be make sure that his actors are all ready to blow us away with realism. I will say one thing about this DVD and that is that it does feature a much better documentary in the EXTRAS section. In fact, 20 minutes of the behind-the-scenes of this one very real strip joint in L.A. gave me a much greater perspective and insight, into the lives and cares of these ladies, than this entire movie! The film also likes to go intellectual on your ass, and actually has one guy who wants to kiss one of the strippers who writes poetry say "I want to kiss the poet inside you". I'm serious. Sorry folks, nice try on the experiment but with little emotion invested into the characters and even less interesting plot lines, this movie just didn't do it for me. The T&A on the other hand, did do "something" for me, but that's another story altogether.
The best extra (and aspect) of this entire DVD has got to be the "documentary" surprisingly directed by Darryl Hannah herself. It runs for about an hour and basically gives us some insight into her own character research for the part. The less interesting sections of this documentary focus on Hannah and how she stole ideas...oops, I mean "borrowed" stories from some of the strippers that she met, and features actual behind-the-scenes footage of a real-live strip joint in L.A., at which Hannah hung out for two weeks (yup, more nudity, kids!). Pretty much every single stripper in that place had more personality than any of the ones in the film.

The tittie bar also features one of the more dubious characters you'd ever want to meet, a man named "Gino", who runs the place. This guy is a blast to watch and you wonder why they didn't use him, his aura, his stories or even his goddamn haircut in the movie! The man is all about seediness, and yet, he's also able to cuddle up to one of the strippers (and offer her a shot) after he finds out that her father passed away. Which actually leads to one of the more poignant lines on the entire DVD, during which one of the strippers asks that girl how she's feeling and she says: "Not good, but I still gotta work", as she slips into her 6-inch pumps to go show her boobies to a bunch of strangers. Wow. If only the actual film could've touched half the emotion from that one sentence, they might've had something here. But luckily for you, this documentary is a catch in itself, and definitely one of the better ones that I've seen on a DVD in a while.

The disc also includes about 10 minutes worth of alternate takes and deleted scenes, which are really not much different from the movie. Not really worth checking out, most are just alternate takes, actually. There’s also an easter egg when you click on the Lion’s Gate insignia in the main menu, which gives you access to the film's trailer and another one for “O”. I have to admit, the trailer for this movie looks great…unfortunately, the film itself never even came close.

There are also two commentary tracks, one by director Michael Radford and the other by actors Sheila Kelley, Sandra Oh and Robert Wisdom from the movie. Radford’s track is pretty interesting, he speaks consistently and gives you a lot of details about the entire experimental process of the film (it’s all about improvisation, baby!). It also sheds light on why the film turned out like it did. He rarely stops to think about what an audience might think or appreciate about their work-shops, etc… and seems content enough to have gone through the process for themselves. Maybe he didn’t realize that the story actually had to be interesting to other people, and not just them! The other track is actually not as interesting, despite having three people on it. A lot more dead spots, but maybe more interesting for real-life actors.
If you're going to rent it to see Hannah and Tilly's asses, then go right ahead, because you will definitely get to see them here (although they barely show them in a couple of scenes). If you're going to rent this movie for some greater insight into the world of strippers, forget that because you won't find anything that "deep" in this film (just go to a real-life strip joint, get a lap-dance and then ask her about her dad--- now that's some real drama!). I would however recommend the DVD slightly if only for the one-hour documentary in a specific strip joint in L.A., which actually managed to interest me throughout. But overall, it's a snoozer, an experiment done wrong...a definite "skip it".
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