You Don’t Nomi

A fun if ultimately preposterous documentary about a preposterous if ultimately fun film: the 1995 Vegas stripper movie Showgirls, which flopped hard upon release, then remerged as a cult classic. This is no mere making-of or looking-back doc, but an essay about Showgirls' cultural impact, and how seriously the film itself should be taken.

Eschewing the typical talking-head interviews with cast and crew, You Don't Nomi – a half-baked pun on the Showgirls protagonist's name – consists of voiceovers from critics and fans, clips from the film, archival interviews, and even excerpts from Showgirls director Paul Verhoeven's wide filmography. It combines this material to chart the fall and rise of Showgirls and to determine whether it's a subversive masterpiece or a piece of garbage – or, indeed, if it's possible to be both.

You Don't Nomi did nothing to change my basic sense of Showgirls: a laughably bad script by Joe Eszterhas, plus an embarrassing performance by wild-eyed leading lady Elizabeth Berkley, plus impenetrable direction from Verhoeven, who clearly understands film grammar and can make a genuinely great over-the-top film, yet seemed tone deaf this time out. Did he honestly think he was making a sexy update of All About Eve, or was he aware of how silly Showgirls actually was? Verhoeven himself has changed his answer through the years.

You Don't Nomi is a breezy hour and a half – not so frothy that you feel insulted watching it, not so dry that you lose interest. You don't have to be a diehard Showgirls fan to get it; I only saw Showgirls once, and I could easily follow along. This film even made me slightly want to watch Showgirls again – but I know better than to fall for that old trick.