Have you ever wondered what happens behind the closed doors of a strip club? Here is a movie telling you all about it, as we follow the new girl Destiny, played by Constance Wu (“Crazy Rich Azians”, “Fresh Of The Boat”), as she takes her first steps into the business. It’s not long before mother hen-figure Ramona, played by Jennifer Lopez (“Ice Age: Continental Drift”, “Home”), takes her under her wings and teaches her the tools of her trade.
The tools of her trade being a pole, and Ramona teaches Destiny just how to twirl and swirl with grace. Kudos to Jennifer Lopez for training for this scene, because she looks extremely at ease flying through the air like that. I think we can all agree that being buried in bills is a good look on anybody, but Jennifer Lopez just makes it look effortless.
So far so good you think, but this isn’t just a stripper movie. This is a movie about a group of women who learn the hard way that the world doesn’t reward those who play the game by the rules. When the financial crisis hits, all their rich clients disappear. The girls sort of split up, and try to have a normal life for a little while.
Normal life doesn’t quite work out, and the girls all find themselves back at the club. The club scene has changed, so Ramona comes up with a scheme of drugging rich Wall Street guys and stealing their credit cards.
At first you think, these executives are all rich anyway, who cares what happens to them. They are supposed to be the bad guys in a movie about stealing strippers. Things get out of hand when the girls keep wanting more and more, and eventually…
It’s based on the true story of a group of strippers from New York, which makes it very relatable. The movie is very enjoyable, with a group of badass woman standing up for themselves.
Jennifer Lopez is very good in this movie, but as the veteran actor of this ensemble I did expect more of her. She isn’t Lady Gaga from A Star Is Born. I think the story enhanced her performance more than she did.
Constance Wu is another story. Her acting sucked me in at every moment she was on screen. She has a lot of very emotional moments, and gets them just right. After Crazy Rich Asians, this cements her as a talent to watch.
The core sisterhood consists of Lili Reinhart (“The Good Neighbor”, “Riverdale”) who plays Annabelle and Keke Palmer who plays Mercedes (“Star”, “Berlin Station”). Both deliver excellent performances. I’d say they keep our leads grounded, and their interactions as a group are very touching.
Shoutout to Lizzo and Cardi B for their cameo’s as two strippers. If you came for them you’ll be sorely disappointed though, as they only appear in a few scenes in the first half of the movie. I kept waiting for them to join the sisterhood later in the movie, but I had to swallow my coke and move on.
As I said, the movie is lovely. It feels slightly disjointed to me. The story is told as a flashback, so Destiny talks to a reporter (played by Julia Styles) and we see what she’s describing in a flashback. Unfortunately this means when a story is done, we cut back to a calm and older Destiny talking. Also, there is voice over. I see what they were going for, but it kind of threw me off.
The movie sets itself up as a “steal money from the rich guys” type movie, but to be honest, that’s not what I saw. Eventually the guys they rob become more and more sympathetic. Are they really bad? Do they deserve to be robbed?
All in all, there are some genuine laughs, some repeated gags (most noteworthy with Lili Reinhart’s character Annabelle) and some heartbreaking moments. Ever for a movie about strippers, there is a lot of flesh on display.
One of my personal favourite moments is their prowler walk. So one of the women will talk to a guy in a bar and then say “Meet my sisters.” Cue 3 badass woman walking at the camera in slomotion with their target in their sights. Jennifer Lopez looks absolutely badass whilst being flanked by two women. The prowler walk. I have to try that one day.