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It Doesn't Suck: Showgirls

(Pop Classics #1)

3.77  ·  Rating details ·  278 ratings  ·  42 reviews
Enough time has passed since Showgirls flopped spectacularly that it’s time for a good, hard look back at the sequined spectacle. A salvage operation on a very public, very expensive train wreck, It Doesn’t Suck argues that Showgirls is much smarter and deeper than it is given credit for. In an accessible and entertaining voice, the book encourages a shift in critical pers ...more
Paperback, 196 pages
Published April 15th 2014 by ECW Press (first published April 1st 2014)
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Average rating 3.77  · 
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 ·  278 ratings  ·  42 reviews

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Feb 01, 2014 rated it liked it

Comes out today!

Ahhhhh Showgirls...winner of just about every Razzie it was nominated for in 1995. Eight in total I think. Did it deserve the bad rap it got? Adam Nayman thinks no. What do I think? Probably not...but I am not a critic so I will leave that to the experts.

When Showgirls was first released on video- I was kind of excited. A glitzy movie about a Vegas Showgirl's rise to the top of the Showgirl hierarchy.

It had a wonderful poster...

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It had two lovely and talented main fe
Mark Palermo
Sep 01, 2014 rated it liked it
Toronto critic Adam Nayman's defense of the artistic merit of Showgirls is a noble pursuit, because even the cult audience it finally attained is wrong about it.

First things first, Susan Sontag's definition of "camp" has, in my view, lost its relevance in recent decades. If camp was once defined as a work that's so bad it's good, it now denotes a self-conscious jokey style. In camp, gags aren't allowed to unfold as straightforward drama. They're underlined with a wink and a nod and an irritatin
Chance Lee
Nov 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: essays
Paul Verhoeven is a favorite director of mine, and Adam Nayman is a sharp film critic. Nayman's long essay here is an excellent look at a film with a complicated history. It doesn't take much to make me want to watch Showgirls again ("I used to love doggy chow") and this book articulates many of the thoughts I had when I first discovered the movie. ...more
Mar 24, 2014 rated it liked it
I guess if there is an issue to be had with the book, it is that considering the brevity of the Pop Classics series' format, there is little room to draw out much of the analysis that Showgirls calls for, and it is clear that Nayman has plenty to say about the film. However, as is the book is a little gem. It is a work that contrary to the cheeky title is less about assuming a defense against naysayers, but more of a response to the camp that have reclaimed it as something of a "so bad it's good ...more
Amar Pai
Oct 24, 2015 rated it it was ok
This is a very slim book. Just sayin'.

Unconvincing in the same way that people who try to convince you that Starship Troopers is a brilliant fascist satire and, therefore, a good movie, are unconvincing. I mean yeah it's making fun of fascism. It's also a dumb movie.

Dec 14, 2017 rated it liked it
"It’s about surviving in a world populated by assholes." - Jacques Rivette ...more
Jacob Klemmer
Jun 28, 2020 rated it liked it
it doesn't suck ...more
Oct 24, 2015 rated it liked it
Yeah. Nice try. It does so.

Speculation about director Paul Verhoeven's motives cannot redeem what he actually put on the screen. If Showgirls was supposed to be a clever satire about America, or some such thing, we'd see that with out having to read 120 pages of maybes and what-ifs. The author also seems to forget that autueur theory doesn't rule out the fact that sometimes auteurs make films that suck. Trying to fit this film into a wider Verhoeven ouvre drags the other films down more than ele
Jacqueline Valencia
Mar 14, 2014 rated it really liked it
Prior to tonight's Showgirls screening at the Lightbox in Toronto: Finished reading this on the subway today. Nayman's defense of Showgirls is not just an analysis done by a fan, but by a film critic who knows what to look for in cinema. His insights are sharp and valid, but may have been too forgiving of Verhoeven's over-styled auteurism. There's not denying Verhoeven has a "touch," and that his subversiveness is born of intelligence and cleverness. However, I enjoy Showgirls not because of its ...more
Feb 03, 2014 rated it liked it
i liked this book, but I also liked the movie.
And it didn't really matter to me that it won a ton of razzies. I thought it was an entertaining movie that showed the difficult and often seedy life of showgirls.
So the book didn't change my mind about the movie, but it gave me an interesting new perspective and included many thoughtful and thought-provoking insights
Garrett Zecker
Dec 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Over the past few weeks, I have been slowly making my way through the extended essays on Generation X Pop Classics book series by Canadian publisher ECW Press. I might not have ever picked these up were it not for their availability on Hoopla through my library and it popping up with a quick search for one of my favorite things in the world, Twin Peaks. From there, I realized that there was a series of books that explored some of my favorite obsessions, and I burned through all of the ones that ...more
Ed Erwin
Nov 26, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
If you have a strong opinion that Showgirls is a horrible film with no redeeming qualities, this probably won't convince you otherwise. I needed no convincing, as I immediately considered it to be a pretty good, but imperfect satire. It is criticized for being over-the-top and crass, but that is what it was trying to be. Elizabeth Shue is criticized for bad acting here, but I think she was doing exactly what the director wanted her to do. He's never been a subtle director, and his ironic approac ...more
Jan 27, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Nayman offers a thorough and well-considered evaluation of a film that I'm frankly shocked I remember as well as I do (although doubtless the many times I stayed up late at night to skim through in on HBO or Cinemax left an impression). I haven't revisited it with a critical eye in some time, but I certainly think it's worth reconsidering at the very least.

What I read was technically the second edition, which includes an intro by Nayman and a brief interview with Paul Verhoeven himself at the en
Will Skrip
Oct 19, 2020 rated it really liked it
SHOWGIRLS, one of the most notorious and hated films in American cinema, deserves better! Adam Nayman deep dives into its filmmaking and screenwriting, while examining director Paul Verhoeven's ouevre in search of what exactly happened, and if whatever did happen should be classified as "camp" by Susan Sontag's definition. Despite the film's x-rated connotations, Nayman aims high with a studied approach and only subtle snark and cheekiness. Paired with the recent 2020 doc YOU DON'T NOMI, cult-ed ...more
Marisa Carpico
May 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
Seems to either miss the point with the Nomi-Crustal dynamic or ignore it all together, but otherwise very well-researched and thoughtful. Also maybe a little lighter on Berkeley than she probably deserves, but like, you can’t blame him for rewriting history a bit considering how horribly this film ruined her career.
Corey Quintaine
Oct 01, 2019 rated it liked it
A surprisingly detailed, researched and scholarly look at a much-maligned movie (which happens to be a favourite of mine). Some of the comparisons are a ridiculous stretch, but the writing is entertaining and provides a very interesting point of view. It also introduced me to my new favourite porte-manteau, "Masterpiece of $#!t." ...more
David Byrne
Nov 25, 2020 rated it really liked it
This book has well-thought out arguments. The author brings up great points about the director’s intentions and the definition of camp. The book is well researched with comparisons to a range of film & literary works.
There was one minor mistake, the song Walk into the Wind was cited to have been by Eurythmics. It is actually by Vegas, a project by Dave Stewart of Eurythmics and Terry Hall of Fun Boy Three. Siobhan Fahey of Bananarama and Shakespears Sister appears on this track too.
Highly reco
Josh Burkey
Dec 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I read this book after watching the movie, You Don't Nomi , and instantly fell in love with it. Nayman's in depth analysis of Showgirls and its career as box office bomb and eventual rebirth as cult classic is fascinating. I ended up reading this book back to back and studying it along the way. Highly recommended for any cinephile. ...more
Jodi Sh.
Nov 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
A critical dissertation and analysis on my favorite movie, Showgirls. Which I will now watch again, for the craft of it. Highly recommend for anyone who is a fan of popular culture, film culture, Eszterhas or Verhoeven.
Jul 09, 2017 rated it liked it
I was convinced.
I literally read this beside a pool.
Feb 01, 2018 rated it liked it
I remain unconvinced.
Feb 10, 2019 rated it liked it
It was fine. A little padded even though it was such a short book. I just saw Showgirls again recently at a film festival, so I figured now would be a good time to read this.
Henry Baker
Feb 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Hard agree.
David Van
Dec 03, 2020 rated it liked it
Not sure if Nayman truly redeems the film, but he makes some good points about authorship and that probably a lot more is going on under the surface in this hilarious piece of garbage of a film.
Mar 18, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: library-journal
Despite its reputation as one of the worst movies ever made, Showgirls (1995) became a hit on home video, a big earner for MGM studios, and has achieved cult status with audiences who enjoy (ironically) the story of Nomi Malone, played by Elizabeth Berkley, a topless dancer seeking fame on the Las Vegas Strip. However, film critic Nayman here approaches the picture as something more than a guilty pleasure, offering a close reading of the film and arguing that it may indeed be a successful, auteu ...more
Heather Babcock
Oct 12, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I read the author's interview with TorontoVerve and was instantly intrigued by this book's premise. I remember watching Showgirls on cable back when I was in my late teens and thinking to myself that it wasn't as bad as the critics had said it was. I recently found the DVD at Goodwill and watched it again and was surprised to discover that it is a much darker and more disturbing film than I remember; the film definitely doesn't fit comfortably into "camp". I bought Nayman's book at Sonic Boom la ...more
Jul 30, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: cult
I generally enjoy high brow dissection of camp and low brow culture. This books made me want to sit down and watch Basic Instinct and much of Paul Verhoeven's back catalog. Big props for name-checking Peaches Christ!

Two quibbles:
1. On page 44, the author authoritatively asserts that all of the black characters in the film are essentially second class citizens based on their jobs (i.e James and Molly.) This is clearly ignoring Annie, the back up dancer and Cristal's understudy who is purposefull
Jason LeRoy
Sep 15, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I really took my time savoring this slim but impactful little volume. As someone who's spent a disproportionate amount of his waking life thinking about, watching, and discussing "Showgirls," it was immensely gratifying to read such a detailed, thorough, clever reappraisal of an endlessly entertaining movie too frequently dismissed as a punchline when there's so much about it that begs further consideration. This book should be considered a sacred text for any "Showgirls" fan. ...more
Benjamin Kahn
Oct 30, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
I enjoyed Showgirls. I had heard everybody talk about how awful it was, but I thought it was hilarious - so over-the-top, so clichéd in many ways, the corny story of a nobody's rise-to-the-top with a soft-core veneer. Whether you buy Nayman's arguments or not, he does make a compelling case for there to be much more here than the movies critics would acknowledge. I enjoyed it. ...more
Mar 19, 2014 rated it really liked it
Anyone that thinks Showgirls sucks probably sucks.
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