Awfully Good: Showgirls 2: Penny's From Heaven

Showgirls 2: Penny's From Heaven (2011)

Director: Rena Riffel
Stars: Rena Riffel, Glenn Plummer, Peter Stickles

Penny, a minor character from the first SHOWGIRLS, is still working as a stripper but has big dreams… to be a star on a low-budget TV dancing show.

Never have I come so close to not making it through a movie. I mean that on all levels: falling asleep, turning it off or simply just ending it all. At two and a half hours long, SHOWGIRLS 2: PENNY'S FROM HEAVEN is unrelenting in its quest to destroy your sanity and soul with painful boredom.

The girls prepared themselves for Chuck Norris' patented Roundhouse Threesome.

On the surface, this film seemed like it had potential to reach THE ROOM-levels of badness, with its amateur acting, gibberish script, random characters and a complete lack of a plot or story structure. It even has a similar writer-director-star that has no clue how to act like a real emoting human being, let alone make a movie. But somehow along the way, SHOWGIRLS 2 just loses that intangible "happy trainwreck" vibe of Tommy Wiseau's movie and instead becomes a full-on pileup of suck. Maybe if it was cut down to an hour and 20 minutes, it might be trashy, campy fun. But as it is, it's intolerably boring—just killing time when it's already so long that time is killing you.

"They made a SHOWGIRLS sequel? And I directed it?!"

On some level I have to believe that multi-hyphenate Rena Riffel is aware of what she's created. It really feels like she's trying to make a David Lynch movie (an odd direction to go, though Riffel did work with him on MULHOLLAND DRIVE.), but has no idea what she's doing. At first I thought I was in for some brilliant post-modern counterattack to the culture of criticism lodged at the first SHOWGIRLS, but it soon became apparent that the sequel can't decide if it wants to be a goofy parody of its predecessor or campy trash… like its predecessor. Instead Riffel just ends up making an even worse version of the 1995 film. It follows the same basic structure, hits the same plot points and even recreates a lot of the more famous scenes. You get the same hitchhiker to bookend the movie, the same understudy betrayal plot and the same ridiculous pool sex scene. Riffel even brings a lot of the same actors from the first movie to reprise their roles, though aside from Glenn Plummer's dancing mentor James, they're all minor characters you probably won't remember.

The Donald Duck live action movie was surprisingly R-rated.

So it's pretty much the first film, except the title character is a terrible dancer who has no skills despite having aspirations to be famous. (Over an hour in, she finally gets her first dance lesson.) Penny is now in a relationship with James, who since the first movie has gone from dancing to selling T-shirts that say "Life Sucks." (Elizabeth Berkley's Nomi is never mentioned.) She finally gets fed up that he won't teach her to dance due to her lack of skills, so she packs up and sets out for Hollywood… where she thinks she can be a dancer on TV. Along the way, Penny stumbles upon random characters and situations—gets her stuff stolen while hitchhiking, witnesses some celebrity impersonators get murdered, and meets a guy who immediately recognizes her because she gave him a lapdance in 1995.

Satan only sings country-western covers of Nickelback songs in Hell.

Eventually Penny makes it to L.A., where she meets a young violinist named Godhardt who wants to open his own cabaret and make her a star. He takes her to a strange club full of swastikas and singing demons but she doesn't mind. She does sort of mind when she discovers Godhardt is actually engaged and that he only wanted to pimp out Penny as a prostitute. But she gets over it and falls in love with her first john and celebrates by having a pillow fight with her maid. (Oh yeah, she's broke but lives in a mansion and has a full-time maid.) At first Godhardt's wife is Penny's evil dance rival, but as soon as it's necessary to the plot, the pair become BFFs. They dance together, talk about their dreams—and then share a hot dog LADY AND THE TRAMP-style. At this point, I took a break to evaluate my life and cry out, " THIS MOVIE HAS TO BE DOING THIS ON PURPOSE, RIGHT?" Then Penny and the middle aged woman engage in crazy pool sex just like Elizabeth Berkley and Kyle MacLachlan and I sort of gave up. The rest of the movie just descends in to further and further stupidity that may or may not involve a snuff film and a secret cult, a four-way sex scene with movie studio execs, and a murder trial.

That's one way to avoid eating carbs.

That only touches on the main "plot" elements of SHOWGIRLS 2, but be advised that there's an unending supply of pointless scenes and subplots, from random outdoor bathroom breaks to spats between gay lovers to the reoccurring maid—all for no reason. The same goes for the headscratching script, though at least the dialogue is entertainingly bad. You can see most of them in the Best Lines section below, but there are plenty of winners:
- "There's an art to a good wiener."
- "Women are like bananas: They're sweetest when they're ripe, right before they shrivel. But you, you're a banana split, with a cherry on top… and nuts."
- "I don't know what's worse… your dancing or your cameltoe."
- "I'm like a burger drive-thru and instead of a burger it's a whore… with fries and a soda."
- And James' amazing Shakespearean soliloquy where he waxes poetic about dancing, AIDS and swine flu, arthritis and following your dreams.

It was times like these that Penny was proud to practice Family Law.

Some of these have to be seen/heard to be believed. (NSFW)

A hilariously slow fall down the stairs, a pillow fight, wiener time and some other "sexy" moments.

Yes, but not as much as you'd think.

I'm erect. Why aren't you erect? Buy this movie here!

Take a shot or drink every time:
  • There's a reference to the original SHOWGIRLS
  • Penny denies being a prostitute
  • Someone uses a bad metaphor
  • A real celebrity is mentioned
  • Penny talks to herself
  • Someone eats phallic foods
Double shot if:
  • Somebody recites a soliloquy
  • Somebody says, "Please don't stand on the celery."

Seen a movie that should be featured on this column? Shoot Jason an email or follow him on Twitter and give him an excuse to drink.

Source: JoBlo.com



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