The year: 2000. Double layered spaghetti strap shirts, platform sandals, and pink faux fur adorned our bodies and the tips of our pencils. It was the era of Britney and Justin, of some combination of members of Destiny's Child, a time when everyone was very engrossed in watching Survivor and glad that all the computers didn't blow up when we rolled into the new millennium. It was also the year of Coyote Ugly.
I was 13 when Hollywood blessed us with Coyote Ugly, the sleepover favorite for teen girls around the country about a small town gal who moves to the big city and ends up dancing on a bar in cowboy boots, but I hadn't watched the film since middle school, so I wondered, how did Coyote Ugly hold up nearly 20 years later?
Would I, now older and wiser, still enjoy a film seemingly based entirely on a bar?
There was only one thing to do: I poured myself a glass of Merlot and ordered it on Amazon. Here's what I learned.
The plot of this movie is kind of stupid.
When you really boil down the plot of Coyote Ugly it is: Violet, a beautiful and talented girl moves to New York City. She can’t get a job as a songwriter with her talent alone, so she has to use her beauty and talent to get an incredibly lucrative job working at Coyote Ugly. Not exactly the most relatable problems.
Coyote Ugly passes the Bechdel test!
Believe it or not, Coyote Ugly passes the famous Bechdel test.
The test states that in order to pass a movie must feature two women, both named, who have a conversation that is not about a man. (About 50% of movies do not pass this test, which is actually mind-blowing).
Coyote Ugly has a largely female cast and they often talk about things other than a man: Violet’s ambitions, working at the bar, and friendship.
I understand the internet wasn't as much of a thing in 2000, but it still drove me crazy that Violet did no research on how to be a songwriter in New York.
On her first day, she just waltzes into recording studio offices and hands them her tapes and then is shocked when they won’t listen to them.
Um, yeah? That’s not how it works, Vi. Did you maybe ask anyone how to be a songwriter? After a few rejections, a receptionist finally suggests she should try an open mic and she receives this information like it’s a concept she’s never heard of before.
She didn’t even try to Ask Jeeves how to get started in the songwriting business?
Tyra Banks is in way less of this movie than you probably remember.
I remembered Tyra being in this movie a lot. She’s on the cover! In my memory, she was one of the main coyotes for the entire movie, but actually, she’s really only in two scenes: One scene in the diner when Violet overhears the coyotes talking about their jobs, and one later when she comes back to visit the bar. She barely even dances.
It’s her character’s departure from Coyote Ugly to go to law school that allows Violet to get a job. Guess Tyra was only available for filming for like, one day.
I was very concerned about Violet's cat in this movie.
When Violet moves to New York, she brings along her cat, who we see in a carrier on her first day in her apartment. A few days later, her apartment gets broken into and the door is left wide open. Violet immediately runs to check and see if the money she’s hidden in her freezer is gone (sadly, it is) but not once does she look for her cat, who for all she knows has been released onto the streets of New York to fend for itself.
Eventually we do see the cat again, so apparently, it’s not a wanderer, but I was worried about it for at least 20 minutes of the movie when it was unaccounted for. Violet also leaves her apartment windows wide open with no screens so maybe she already knew the cat wasn’t a escape artist. This may also may explain how she got broken into.
Lil is a shitty boss.
The owner of Coyote Ugly, Lil, has terrible managerial skills.
First of all, she hires Violet on the spot without asking her a single question about her skills or job history, even though she runs a bar where women need to handle a huge volume of customers at once and have to be able to dance.
Violet is hot and slightly sassy, but that’s not enough to work at Coyote Ugly and it seems like a huge waste of time for Lil to just hire every inexperienced hot girl who wanders into her bar.
Then Lil doesn't even train her.
She just thrusts her into working as if she’ll just magically know how things work at her weird bar where they refuse to serve anything but beer and alcohol with men’s names. She fires Violet on her first night after Violet doesn’t want to get up and do a dance she’s never seen before.
Um, I’m sorry, Lil, would you rather Violet have gotten up on the bar, tried haplessly to follow along with a complicated line dance, and made herself and the other girls look bad? Maybe have her come in for a training session and before you expect her to bust out a choreographed hoedown.
Not to mention Coyote Ugly is losing a ton of money in alcohol.
At one point Lil gives away a free drink to everyone in the bar. That’s like 200 people!
The bartenders are constantly using alcohol to create various types of fire. And Violet drops like four entire bottles while trying to learn how to spin them. Maybe the bar makes so much money they don’t need to worry about wasted assets, but it doesn’t seem like a great business model.
Nobody could rip a t-shirt as perfectly as Lil ripped Violet's USA t-shirt, it is physically impossible.
Violet walks into her first day on the job at Coyote Ugly in a white t-shirt with USA printed on it. Her boss immediately rips off the sleeves and the bottom of the shirt, turning it into a sleeveless crop top. Um, what? You cannot just rip a shirt someone is wearing and have it turn out perfectly even.
Maybe the arms could come off cleanly, depending on the quality of the fabric, but there’s no way that shirt wouldn’t just have been completely ripped in half when she ripped off the bottom.
Why can't anyone drink water in this bar? It seems very dangerous.
One of the things Coyote Ugly is all about is not letting anyone hydrate.
If anyone in the bar dares to request water the bartenders pull out a megaphone, shame the person for their attempt to drink responsibly, scream “HELL NO H2O!”, pour water all over themselves, and spray the person who innocently asked for a beverage with a drink hose.
Do they want to give every person who comes in their bar alcohol poisoning? It’s their own fault that their bathrooms are probably covered in vomit.
There is a truly disappointing shopping montage in this movie.
If there’s one thing ’90s and 2000s movies were good at, it’s the shopping montage. But not all shopping montages are made equally. A good shopping montage tells a story, it takes one character from the drab person they are to the shiny new person the shopping montage has made them into now that they have new clothes. That means in order to be successful, a good shopping montage must progress like this:
- The “too conservative outfit”.
- The “subject of the montage is trying but misunderstood the assignment of the montage” outfit.
- The “subject of the montage is getting it and picked an outfit too crazy even for the purposes of this montage” outfit.
- The “now we’re just being silly” outfit.
- The “just right” outfit.
These are guidelines, not hard and fast rules, but the most important part of the montage is it must progress from the subject of the montage having no idea what they are doing to picking the perfect outfit.
Coyote Ugly's shopping montage breaks all of these rules.
Right off the bat, Violet tries on a red skirt with a leopard print crop top. This is obviously the “just right” outfit! Why should we even bother watching the rest of this montage? We know she’s going to buy this outfit, this outfit looks exactly like what everyone else in Coyote Ugly is wearing.
Then we only see her try on one more outfit, a lacy babydoll dress, which, while maybe a little sexy, looks like the kind of thing she’d wear before her job as a coyote. This is her “too conservative for this montage” outfit, which should have been the first outfit!
Then she doesn’t even try on any more outfits, just accessories over top of the outfit we know she’s going to buy: a giant fluffy coat which obviously she isn’t going to be wearing in a bar that seems to kept at roughly 101 degrees, and cowboy hats. You could argue that the giant fluffy coat is the “now we’re just being silly” outfit, but at this point who cares? We are no longer invested in this montage. Two outfits do not a montage make, Coyote Ugly.
Side note: it’s possible Amazon edited down this montage from the original version since photos do exist online of Violet wearing different clothes than the ones I saw in the montage. Why anyone would ever shorten a shopping montage is beyond me. Movies should just be entirely shopping montages, IMO.
There are way too many shots of half-naked Violet getting dressed in this movie.
I understand this is a movie centered around an establishment where women wear very little clothing and dance on the bar to Cotton Eye Joe and that song about the guy who challenges the devil to a fiddle war, but the only thing that really made me feel icky were the scenes in which Violet is getting dressed in her own home and the movie obviously wants us to look at her naked body.
The Coyote Ugly scenes were fun, those women wanted to be there and they were getting paid for it, but there was really no need to show us Violet wiggling into her jeans in her lace underwear like we were peeping at her from a crack in the bedroom window. That just felt intrusive.
This movie, like many movies in the early 2000s, is slightly homophobic.
In the beginning of the movie, Violet tries to give her demo tape to a woman at a record label and the woman shoots her down by telling her that she was having a bad week: her daughter just told her she hates her and that she is a bisexual.
She says the word “bisexual” like she just found out that her daughter was planning on abandoning Hogwarts her 7th year to become a Death Eater.
I get it, the early 2000s were a different time when just saying the word bisexual could be the entire punchline of a joke, but it doesn’t make it any less cringey.
Kevin following Violet home is slightly off-putting.
Remember how in movies from the ’90s and the early 2000s the cutest thing a guy could do was literally never leave a woman alone until she had sex with him?
In the beginning of the movie, Violet thinks Australian line cook Kevin is the manager at a club where she wants to get her music played, so she gives him her tape. She quickly finds out he’s lying to her and tries to leave, but Kevin follows her all the way home. At night. In New York City.
The exchange is meant to be flirty, but Violet clearly says no and he still persists in following her and making comments about how he stared at her ass despite just meeting her 30 minutes ago. It’s not as cute as the movie thinks it is.
But that wasn’t the only thing about Kevin…
That being said, I still thought Kevin was cute.
The 30-year-old woman in me recognized how problematic Kevin and Violet’s relationship starts out, but the 14-year-old girl in me still wanted to run my hands over that Australian six-pack when he did a male strip show to help Violet earn money at the bar. Being a woman is complicated and I contain multitudes.
The thing is, Kevin has perfected the sexy swallow.
When he gets nervous in this movie, he swallows. And somehow he swallows in a way that is very, very sexy. It can’t be explained.
What exactly did the woman who "won" Kevin in the auction get?
At one point Violet needs to make 250 dollars in one night or she will get fired because she sprayed the fire marshall with the drink hose after he asked for water.
The fire marshall gets mad and gives the bar a fine for being a huge fire hazard, which in retrospect does not seem like Violet’s fault. But anyway, she decides to auction off Kevin and he does a little strip tease on the bar. The ladies go wild and she makes $250 instantly. But what exactly does Kevin have to do with the lady who “won” him?
We see her licking his chest and then it cuts away. Later he throws out a few facts about her, implying they spent time together, but he never actually says what the woman got. I’m going to guess for $250 she wanted more than a little chest licking and polite conversation. Did Violet auction off her new boyfriend to have sex with a stranger?
Kaitlin Olsen is in Coyote Ugly.
The It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia actress has a small part as one of the women who bids on Kevin in a bar.
It's no wonder the fire marshall is at Coyote Ugly, this place is a huge fire hazard.
It’s honestly amazing the fire marshall hasn’t already shut this place down.
At one point the girls actually pour alcohol on the bar, set the entire bar on fire and then dance on it. One coyote regularly spits shots into a lighter and blows flames into the crowd and I’m going to go ahead and guess she isn’t specifically trained in fire safety.
How is Coyote Ugly already not burned to the ground?
But my most burning question comes next…
Kevin struggles with Violet working at Coyote Ugly, which begs the question: is this movie feminist?
Kevin calls Violet out for working at a bar where she dances half-nude for money and her father panics when he finds out what she’s doing. But Violet says multiple times throughout the movie that she doesn’t think there’s anything wrong with it. And it seems like the movie agrees with her, which I think is a pretty feminist take.
Sure, Coyote Ugly is likely a very sticky place full of men who won’t stop touching the women even when they’ve been asked to stop, but Violet likes working there and isn’t ashamed of her job so more power to her. Eventually Kevin and her dad come around to the idea.
Why doesn't Lil let Violet go to her performance?
Violet asks Lil for time off to perform her song at a venue that Kevin set up for her. Lil agrees she can leave, but when the bar gets busy she refuses to let Violet go. It’s pretty heartless, especially considering she already agreed to the time off and Violet reminded her multiple times throughout the evening that she was leaving at 10:30.
Does this bar not have shifts? Why didn’t Lil make Violet call in a replacement if there was a possibility that her leaving would be impossible if the bar got busy?
Violet singing in the bar isn't going to stop anyone from fighting, let's be honest.
In one scene it’s Fleet Week and the bar is full of drunken sailors. Fights break out, some men grab Cammie off the bar, the police show up and try to tell Lil to shut the whole place down. Everything is getting too rowdy and for some reason it’s up to Violet to stop it. (Even though the police are like, right there.) She takes a deep breath, turns on the jukebox, and sings.
Suddenly everyone in the bar is so taken aback by her beautiful voice and sexy dancing that they stop fighting and sexually harassing her co-worker to listen. The night is saved! Except, why? Nobody was paying attention to the music and sexy women dancing on the bar before, would they suddenly stop to notice Violet singing?
It's kind of hard to buy the whole "Violet is too shy to perform" thing.
Violet’s whole thing in the movie is she is supremely talented but she’s too shy to perform in front of anyone. It’s pretty obnoxious, but also very unbelievable.
How did she get to be such a good songwriter if she’s never, at the age of roughly 25, performed in front of anyone? Has she never gotten feedback on any of her work? Surely she took classes where she had to perform at some point or performed in school, church, something.
Despite rocky beginning with Kevin, this movie does end up being a pretty good romantic comedy.
Kevin is very charming when he’s not following Violet home and their relationship is actually pretty cute. He collects comic books! He works at a gross fish market! He loves breakfast foods! He also really wants her to succeed, even though he’s on the fence about whether or not he likes her working at Coyote Ugly.
He sets up a time slot for her to perform at a club, even though she ends up missing it and he ends up losing his Spiderman comic that he gave the booker in exchange for the spot, which shows he’s willing to sacrifice for her. Plus, what’s more romantic than a cute Australian guy who just wants you to live up to your potential taking you to a fish market to help him handle raw seafood? Nothing.
The music in the movie is also still very good.
When I was in middle school, I rocked out to the Coyote Ugly soundtrack daily, and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t still have Can’t Fight the Moonlight on a few playlists as an adult. The music holds up.
Violet's big break comes very quickly.
Violet never even ends up having to do an open mic because one of the places she manically sent tapes off to ends up calling her and asking her to perform in their showcase. This is her very first performance ever and yet somehow it lands her a deal writing songs for Leann Rhymes seemingly instantly.
Much like getting a job at one of the hottest clubs in New York by just asking if she can have it, the theme of this movie is: naturally talented hot girl puts in minimal effort and eventually succeeds.
They never really resolve the whole thing with Kevin telling her being a coyote is slutty.
Kevin says some pretty hurtful things about Violet’s job and makes it clear he’s not super comfortable with her dancing on a bar for a living. By the end of the movie, he seems to have come around, but they never actually discuss this nor does he apologize.
What ever happened to Leann Rimes?
You never hear about her anymore.
Despite it's flaws, this movie is still really fun and I'd drink wine and watch it alone again.
The music is good, the dancing is good. I also kind of want to work at Coyote Ugly despite being a very sleepy person, unable to dance, and definitely not able to pull off a leopard print crop top. A girl can dream.
Were you a huge Coyote Ugly fan in the 2000s? Definitely send this article to that one friend who you used to rock out to Can’t Fight the Moonlight with. You know who they are!