Dancing at the Blue Iguana

Okay, so the one big lesson learned after watching Dancing at the Blue Iguana is that strippers have a hard life. Boo-hoo, nothing new there. Another, lesser lesson learned is to leave the screenwriting to screenwriters. Dancing at the Blue Iguana does have two credited screenwriters, director Michael Radford (B. Monkey, Il Postino) and David Linter, but credit also goes to the actresses. Before production began, Radford had the principal actresses, Darryl Hannah, Jennifer Tilly, Charlotte Ayanna, Sheila Kelley, Sandra Oh, and Kristin Bauer, sit down in workshops and help to develop their characters' stories. So each actress is primarily responsible for what happens to her corresponding character in the finished product. Radford took each of the stories and molded them together, with the main setting as The Blue Iguana, a seedy strip club in Los Angeles. While many of these actresses may be good at acting, they have much to learn when it comes to writing. Most of the stories fall victim to various stereotypes, causing the entire movie to be fairly uninteresting.

Radford haphazardly strings them together. Angel (Hannah, Jackpot, My Favorite Martian) has the largest role. She has the worst stereotype, the stripper with a heart of gold. She is also ditzy beyond belief, yet wants to adopt a child. Jo (Tilly, Play it to the Bone, Stuart Little) is the resident psychotic, and her life changes when she discovers she is actually pregnant. Jasmine (Sandra Oh, Waking the Dead, Guinevere) is an aspiring poet, but hides her profession from Dennis (Chris Hogan, Monkeybone, EdTV), a man she is in a budding relationship with that she met at a poetry reading. Jessie (Charlotte Ayanna, The Rage: Carrie 2, Jawbreaker) is a newer stripper, dealing with an abusive boyfriend.

Since there are so many main characters, Radford never has the time to go into depth with any of them. There is an undeveloped story centering on Stormy (Sheila Kelley, Nurse Betty, Santa Fe) and the incestual relationship she has with her brother Sully (Elias Koteas, Novocaine, Lost Souls). Worst of all is Kristin Bauer's (Hollywood Palms, Romy and Michele's High School Reunion) Nico, a feature performer at the club who appears when Dancing at the Blue Iguana is almost over. Then, Radford throws in a moronic story about a hitman. Because of what feels like hastily sketched, one-dimensional characters, there is no real reason to watch this movie aside from the obvious chance to be in a strip club without actually going to one. Radford gives no incentive to develop an emotional attachment to any of his characters, and aside from Hannah, nobody is on screen long enough to have a chance to perform. For the most part, Dancing at the Blue Iguana even fails to convey the pervasive sense of emptiness that Radford wants to show, it just has the big stink of boredom.

Mongoose Rates It: Pretty Bad.
2 hours, 3 minutes, Rated R for pervasive sexual content/nudity, language, some drug content, and brief violence.

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