Recap Attack: “Bar Girls”


An apology in advance — At some point during the course of this recap, I might accidentally refer to this movie as Bad Girls. If that should happen, it will be partly because I’m a big fan of the British show Bad Girls and partly because the word “bad” hammers in my head incessantly whenever I watch this movie. Bad, bad, bad. Just bad. (You know it.)

The bar — The bar in question is Girl Bar. Like, the actual one in Los Angeles. I don’t remember where I read this, so I might be entirely wrong, but even if I’m wrong, I doubt anyone will really care.

The girls — The girls in question are Loretta, a snarky cartoonist; Rachel, a blossoming actress; J.R., a whiskey-voiced cop; Tracy, a Southern butch; Annie, a flirty jock; and Veronica, a bi-curious flibbertigibbet.

The so-called plot — Read the product description. It says so much while saying so little.

The theme song — If you’ve read my recaps of The L Word, you know I’m not a fan of the theme song of that series. But the Bar Girls theme song is worse. Imagine if you took a riot grrrl (when they still existed), replaced her brain with Carrie Underwood’s, and dipped her and her harmonica in a vat of scalding tapioca. You’d get the Bar Girls theme: misconceived, tuneless, bland, overdone and just plain dumb. Thankfully, it’s also brief.

Dressing for success — Loretta is trying on everything in her closet. She’s not happy with any of it, but I don’t think the clothes are her problem. I think the accessories are the real errors; namely, the egregious overacting and the laughable facial expressions.

Loretta’s friend Tracy calls to see what Loretta’s up to. Loretta says she has a date with “Psycho Jock” and invites Tracy to meet them at the bar.

On second thought — Now Loretta and Tracy are standing outside the bar, wondering why they bothered to go there in the first place. Look at this scintillating, insightful dialogue:

Tracy: I don’t know why I come here night after night. See the same old boring faces, looking as disappointed with me as I am with them.

Yeah, yeah. Play us a song; you’re the piano man. Only there’s no song, no piano and no men, and above all, no point.

Loretta is about to leave when she suddenly finds herself on the receiving end of a pointed gaze from a hot chick in a leather jacket. (She actually is kinda hot. It’s the one good thing about this movie.) So Loretta and Tracy go back inside.

What a hangout — Look at that bar. I mean, really? That’s a bar? It looks like the rec room at my college, where I reigned supreme at the pool table and the Tetris console. Jeez, I’m so gay (and so old).

Tracy and Loretta chat with Celia, the bartender. Loretta tells Celia she’d like to send “that beautiful woman” a drink, anonymously. But she says it like it’s never been done before. If there’s a theme in this movie, that’s it: the delusion that what’s being said or done or thought is somehow novel, rather than the hackneyed, pedestrian dreck it really is.

For future reference, if you want to impress me in a bar, don’t send me a drink. Go behind the bar and do some fancy drink-making moves that draw a crowd, and then play Blondie on the jukebox. Or, if you must send me something, stuff a pint glass full of $50 bills and top it with the deed to a brownstone in the West Village.

As Celia delivers the drink, Loretta and Tracy shoot the breeze. Loretta thinks she can get “that girl” into her car in 10 minutes.

Loretta: You can get anything you want in this life if you possess three qualities: patience, charisma and patience.

Tracy: Well, then all you lack’s charisma.

Hey, that’s almost funny in print. But the way they say these lines is not exactly funny; it’s more scratch-your-eyes-out amateurish.

Moving right along — The beautiful woman, Rachel, eventually finds out who sent her the drink (she very cleverly asks the bartender) and marches right up to Loretta. They hit it off, I guess. Well, what else do you call it when two actresses say their lines really quickly and have no chemistry? Looks like love to me.

As they ramble, Tracy stands nearby and points to her watch, reminding Loretta about the outta-my-dreams-and-into-my-car thing. So Loretta somehow convinces Rachel to let Loretta take her for a ride.

Rachel: OK. Let’s go.

Loretta: Really?

Rachel: Cold feet?

Loretta: Warm heart. Let’s try to keep it that way.

There is probably no context in which anyone can say “Let’s try to keep it that way” without sounding like a mother, a boss or a dumbass. Or in this case, all three.

Cover your ears — As Loretta and Rachel crawl through the streets of L.A. in Loretta’s convertible, some pseudo-techno music plays, laced with echoes of dialogue from the preceding scene.

If you think that sounds interesting or cool, buy this movie. It was made for you and no one else.

And now cover your eyes — They arrive at Loretta’s house. Loretta leaves the headlights and the radio on, gets out, and dances seductively in front of — and on the hood of — the car. Rachel claps her hands and waves her arms appreciatively.

I thought maybe if I typed it out in a very matter-of-fact way, this scene would seem less insane and/or inane, but the reverse seems to be true.

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