Welcome to Chippendales movie review ()

by -485 Views

Gas station attendant Somen Banerjee (Kumail Nanjiani), an Indian transplant in Los Angeles circa 1979, brings in tidy profits for his boss, but declines a promotion in order to open, with his savings, a backgammon club. Immigrant stories often traffic in reinvention, and Somen is no different: there was a time when he would have jumped at the chance of a managerial role, but America—plus Hugh Hefner, men’s magazines, and luxury watch ads—have changed him. Wealth is his goal, but so is upward class mobility. The backgammon club, with the assistance of sleazetastic club promoter Paul Snider (a dynamite Dan Stevens, alas limited to a guest role), hosts disco dancing, female mud wrestlers, and perhaps least hygienically of all, oyster-eating contests. But after a lightbulb moment at a gay bar, Banerjee creates the concept of the male exotic dancer, named for one of his heroes, 18th century British cabinet-maker Thomas Chippendale. At this classy club men will writhe and grind as they shed their clothing, while women hoot, holler, and stuff cash into the nearest g-string. But just having men thrust themselves into women’s laps would make Banerjee’s club no different from a seedy strip joint. So, in 1981, he hires Emmy-winning choreographer Nick di Noia (Murray Bartlett) to design the club’s dance routines, without which we would not have Chris Farley’s Chippendales sketches on “Saturday Night Live” or the “Magic Mike” franchise. 

It’s unclear whether Nanjiani wasn’t inspired by the material or simply didn’t have a lot of information about Banerjee on which to base his portrayal. Either way, his performance is stilted, his body language practically stagnant. The writing for Banerjee isn’t strong enough to balance praising his business savvy—like calling to report his own business to a right-wing church, then tipping off a local news station when the picket signs turn up—with criticism of his racist hiring practices nor his defensiveness when he’s confronted about it. In fact, the series often tries to have it both ways, arguing that the racism Banerjee himself experienced led him to create a discriminatory VIP membership program, and that his exploitation of Otis (a flawless Quentin Plair, the series’ breakout star), the troupe’s sole black dancer, who is trotted out like sandwich meat to the customers but not featured in the Chippendales pinup calendar, was merely a reflection of what the customers would want.

The real headliner of “Welcome to Chippendales” is Murray Bartlett. Fresh off his Emmy win for playing an R-rated Basil Fawlty on Season One of “The White Lotus,” Bartlett portrays di Noia with devastating sincerity. Although known as a children’s TV producer, di Noia’s true love is dance. The choreography he designs for the Chippendales dancers is, yes, successfully titillating, but also informed by his own closeted sexuality and profound loneliness. Whether he’s undulating his body during rehearsals with sweaty dancers or venting in tormented screams about his increasing distrust of Banerjee, Bartlett conveys verve and sorrow in equal measure. When di Noia’s undercurrent of instability finally rises to the surface, he and his boss start down a collision course that ends the way in which so many stories of greed end: bankruptcy, murder, prison, suicide. Given the current state of a certain bird-themed social media app, “Welcome to Chippendales” could have been a good place to interrogate the disease that is capitalism. The writers, unfortunately, are not interested.

Sumber: www.rogerebert.com

No More Posts Available.

No more pages to load.