The naked truth: Overexposed Demi takes all the fun out of 'Striptease'

July 01, 1996|By MIKE LITTWIN

I'M READING THE reviews to "Striptease," and there's a common theme which can be summed up thusly: Demi Moore ruins the movie by insisting on being naked all the time.

Excuse me?

Demi Moore is too naked?

Is this possible?

You know the old line about how you can't be too rich or too thin. Well, I'm thinking we're in the same territory here, only more so.

I asked around the office of my male friends, and it was unanimous. None of us had ever walked out of a movie theater, muttering to ourselves, "Jeez, Louise, too many beautiful naked women for me in that movie. Let's go see "The Lion King" next time.

Not that I'm endorsing all brands of cinematic nudity. Far from it. Let's say, for example, it's Ernest Borgnine running around in the altogether. I'm out of the theater before you can say "McHale's Navy."

But this is Demi Moore. You do not go to a Demi Moore movie to see Demi Moore act. That's because she can't act. I want to be nice here, but this is the most you can say of her acting ability: She looks great naked.

OK, you say you've seen her naked pretty much every day for the last several years, staring up at you from one magazine cover or another. You've even seen her naked when she's nine months pregnant. You suggest that maybe people are getting a little tired of her act.

In fact, one guy I talked to said the buzz he heard on the movie was that after a while all the nudity got boring.

After checking his pulse, I offered up this hypothetical: You're in a room with Demi Moore. She's naked. How soon do you ask her to throw some clothes on and maybe take in a ballgame?

I had to see for myself. I'd read the book, a satire on politics and stripping and how they come together in Florida. It was a book I felt sure couldn't possibly be reproduced faithfully on the screen - if you don't count the silicone-enhancements, which were reproduced in stunning detail.

The critics were right. It was boring. I was forced to check my own pulse, not to mention a calendar (yeah, the movie is that slow).

The problem is that the movie is supposed to be a comedy. Burt Reynolds, as a sex-crazed, homicidal, family-values Congressman, is very funny. Ving Rhames as the

bouncer/philosopher/knee-breaker is even funnier.

But Demi Moore is not funny, not even a little bit. Of course she isn't. What were they thinking? What could possibly be funny about Demi Moore naked? Think about it. When was the last time you laughed in front of a beautiful naked woman?

Oh, there's plenty of stripping all right. But the most important stripping they did in the movie was stripping it of the book's humor. (Poor Demi: There's no romance either. All we're left with is bump and grind and very little sweat.)

The director, Andrew Bergman, has great credentials. He created "The Freshman," a work of inspired lunacy, in which Bert Parks sings "Maggie's Farm" to a supper club full of diners munching on entrees made from endangered species.

How could he make a movie this leaden? I'm guessing he was, um, distracted.

Blame Demi.

This was supposed to be a star vehicle for Moore. Memo to Demi: Get a driver.

I saw her with Michael Douglas in "Disclosure," a drama in which her best moments found her spilling out of a bra. In "Striptease," she's gone to the next level: removing the bra. And people say she doesn't have range.

There's a funny bit in the movie when the bouncer is asked if he knew anybody who was a stripper before she got famous. He says, yeah, Meryl Streep, who used to go by Chesty LaFranz. I took this to be a teeny-weeny shot at Demi, who got to be a stripper after she got famous.

Who can tell? And, besides, what is sexy? The movie "Showgirls" proved that nudity is not necessarily sexy. Anyone who's seen a bare-breasted Vegas chorus line already knew that.

Certain actors turn up the heat every time they grace the screen, no matter how much clothing they're wearing. I'd pay to see Ellen Barkin play an Eskimo.

And, yet, in "Striptease," Moore gets naked and you never have to adjust the thermostat. Let's just say when I left the theater that global warming was the furthest thing from my mind.

In case you're not sure why you've laid down your seven bucks for this particular movie, they give you a poster of a mostly naked Moore when you walk in. And now you see where things went wrong. She looks great in pictures. It's motion pictures that are the problem.

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