Striptease - * 1/2*

This incomplete stripper comedy doesn’t have the goods. Demi Moore is Erin Grant, a single mother who is forced to work as a stripper in order to pay court costs to get custody of her young daughter away from her sleazeball ex-husband, Darrell (Robert Patrick). Erin has a loyal following at the club, including David Dilbeck (Burt Reynolds), a hypocritical congressman. As if things aren’t enough trouble, a regular of the club is murdered, and Erin looks as if she may be endangered. Luckily, she has two stallwart defendants, a married police investigator (Armand Assante), and the club bouncer (Ving Rhames). Striptease as a film seems somewhat confused as to what it really is. Is it a satire? A drama? A thriller? A steamy strip-fest? It tries to be all of these, and fails at most. It works best in its satirical moments, lampooning politicians, strippers, and lawyers. The film’s best characters are Rhames, Reynolds and Patrick, more caricature than character. Yet they have the best lines, and the movie is bearable while they are on screen. Unfortunately, the film has broader visions. It adds the drama of a mother struggling against the court system to protect her little daughter, yet torn by the implications of her career on her daughter’s future sensibilities. TV-movie-of-the-week stuff. Then it also tries to be a thriller, by adding in shadowy thugs and mysterious deaths. Unfortunately, there’s never any sense of danger or excitement. And, of course, there’s the stripping. For those interested only in Demi’s body, be warned that the film is more tease than strip (it is, after all, rated R, unlike last year’s Showgirls). However, Demi has stayed in shape, and should please many fans. If Striptease had stuck to being a satire of the sleazy world of stripping, it might have been a good movie. However, it decided to divide its attention, and as a result it isn’t worth a glance.

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