07/08/1996 at 01:00 AM EDT
, Burt Reynolds, Armand Assante, Ving Rhames
can't dance. Sure, she can kick those terrifically toned legs way up high, shake those glorious glutes like maracas, and bounce the rigid demi-globes she calls breasts as if they were boccie balls—but none of that makes her Martha Graham in a G-string. And in Striptease, she dances. A lot. Every time she does, the movie goes dead. Frankly, it's a little embarrassing watching Moore flash everything except her privates. Has any male movie star ever exposed so much of himself for so long in a film not intended for cineasts in raincoats? I don't think so. And if one ever has, I'm not sure I'd want to see it.
As directed and written by It Could Happen to You's Andrew Bergman (who based his script on Carl Hiaasen's novel), Striptease is an amiable comedy with ambitions to be a satire, but its thriller plot keeps getting in the way of the yucks. Moore, with her usual one-note fervency, plays a woman who has temporarily taken to taking it off to finance a custody fight for her daughter (played by 7-year-old Rumer Willis, a charmer and real-life daughter of Moore and husband Bruce Willis
). When a drunken U.S. congressman (Reynolds, a real hoot and a holler here) jealously bashes a strip-club customer who has embraced Moore too closely, she finds herself drawn into a dangerous netherworld of political corruption and murder. A detective (Assante) and the bar's bouncer (Rhames, at his sardonic best) come to her aid. None of this intrigue is particularly compelling, and its resolution is rushed and halfhearted.
Essentially, Moore is the straight woman. Everyone around her is having—and serving up—the real fun. What keeps the movie bobbing cheerily along are the throwaway lines and asides—a stripper introducing the snake in her act as Monty Python; the strip club's slimy owner complaining that the business has "lost its humanity"; Rhames boasting that Meryl Streep worked the club years ago, billing herself as Chesty LaFrance; and Moore refusing to wrestle in creamed corn with the pronouncement, "There's no way I'm gonna roll around naked with a bunch of drunk morons trying to stick niblets up my hoo-ha." That line got a big hoo-ha from me. (R)