Moore topless Demi
Whilst Demi Moore topless and pole dancing is an obvious selling point, "Striptease" doesn't really have much else going for it. In fact it is a little strange, maybe misplaced, combining moments of humour with drama and I suppose technically a thriller although there is very little which is thrilling about it. "Striptease" really is a movie which trades on a topless Demi Moore and her convincing turn as an erotic pole dancer rather than anything else.
Having being made to hand over custody of her daughter to her criminal ex by a Judge, Erin Grant (Demi Moore - The Juror) is forced to find work as a night club pole dancer to make ends meet. But when Congressman David Dilbeck (Burt Reynolds - The Cannonball Run) attacks one of the audience during a drunken night out, Erin finds herself in the thick of it as one of her fans ends up dead having witnessed Dilbeck's misdemeanour and tried to blackmail him.
The trouble with "Striptease" is that it doesn't seem to know what it wants to be, attempts at drama are cheapened by poor humour and there is no tension or mystery when it comes to trying to be a thriller. It really is a very confused movie making it surprising uneasy to watch as it is neither funny nor thrilling it's in no-man's land, bordering on being a parody but just restraining itself.
It doesn't help that many of the important characters are more like caricatures such as Burt Reynolds over the top turn as Vaseline loving Congressman David Dilbeck and Robert Patrick as trailer trash Darrell Grant really standing out as a couple of the most over the top. It's impossible to take these characters in the least bit seriously, which I am sure was not the intention, but then it's these caricatures who end up in the scenes when "Striptease" should be at it's most suspenseful and thrilling making a mockery of any tension it tries to deliver.
"Striptease" is certainly not helped by the mess which is the storyline which is not in the least bit complex, allowing twists to be seen a mile off, yet is so poorly constructed it is hard to follow. On one hand you have the story of Erin who is desperate to win custody of her daughter from her wheel chair stealing ex and ends up forced to pole dance to make a living and then on the other you have the criminal activities of a "dumb as f..." congressman and his employees. Through a series of contrivances these two storylines merge and bring in further subplots such as Shad, the club's bouncer who is trying to make money through dubious manners amongst others. The trouble is that firstly it is often so far fetched it is unbelievable and secondly the various plots fail to gel, causing scenes to jar rather than running smoothly. What this actually means is that you end up watching "Striptease" not for the actual storyline rather than for when Demi Moore will do her next pole dance or appear topless.
As for Demi Moore well her performance is very uneven as she plays her character of Erin straight rather than as a caricature which befalls most of the others. Now I will admit that in those scenes when Demi Moore is pole dancing, be it topless or scantily dressed, she looks amazingly convincing and highly polished as an erotic pole dancer. But then take her out of those scenes and into ones which rely on her to deliver dialogue as well as emotion and her performance suffers, making it unbelievable as a mother desperate to win custody of her daughter. Talking of which, that is Demi Moore's own daughter Rumer Willis playing her on screen daughter Angela, although other than looking cute adds little to the movie.
Whilst Demi Moore plays it for the most straight, the rest of the cast end up playing characters which are terrible caricatures. Robert Patrick as Darrell Grant looks like he has based his performance on that of Nicolas Cage in "Raising Arizona" making it funny but at times out of sync with the actual scene. The same can be said of Burt Reynolds as the poontang obsessed Congressman David Dilbeck with a fetish for Vaseline, as a caricature it is funny but doesn't really work in a movie where the character shouldn't be so daft. There really is little to impress from any of these other performances, Armand Assante struggles with comedy dialogue when trying to play his character of Lt. Al Garcia semi seriously and even Ving Rhames flounders with his character of Shad because of the misplaced comedy factor.
What this all boils down to is that other than watching Demi Moore topless or pole dancing there is really no other reasons to watch "Striptease". The storyline is not in the least bit tense making it a poor thriller which is made worse by the caricature characters and comedy dialogue. I wish I could be more positive but other than being a very glossy production, especially when Burt Reynolds smothers himself in Vaseline, it really doesn't work as well as it possibly could have.