Lap Dance

2014 - 100 minutes

Rated: UR

Directed by: Greg Carter

Written by: Greg Carter

Starring: Ali Cobrin, Robert Hoffman, Datari Turner, Carmen Electra, Briana Evigan, James Remar, K.D. Aubert, Mariel Hemingway

There isn’t a lot lap dancing in Lap Dance. A lot of time spent with strippers in a strip club, but not a lot of lap dancing. There really isn’t a whole lot of anything. A young couple is ready to realize their Hollywood dreams when familial illness and financial woes derail their plans. The solution is for the better half of the naïve lovebirds to do a quick stint as an exotic dancer for fast cash. Naturally, corruption of character and relationship troubles arise.

Purportedly this tale is based on the true story of writer-director Greg Carter and his girlfriend. He’s either too close to the material that it’s precious for him and uninteresting for the rest of us, or real life was just as boring as the basic cable ready movie that was inspired by it. Or it’s just inept all around. Whatever the reason(s), Lap Dance is truly terrible.

Recent college grad Monica (Ali Cobrin) and beau Kevin (Robert Hoffman) are headed to Los Angeles to realize their dreams of being an actress and screenwriter, respectively. She’s guaranteed to nail her CSI audition and his amazing screenplay is sure to sell immediately. Their earnestness is presented without irony – it’s just that easy, kids. Stopping off in Houston to visit Monica’s dad (James Remar), they discover he’s in the hospital with a recurrence of cancer. The hospital bill is huge, so the couple empties their savings, but that’s not enough. Monica takes a job at a nail salon and Kevin does…something…but that’s still not enough. Monica’s old pal Tasha (Briana Evigan) suggests stripping at her club. Done and done. Soon, Monica is racking in the dough while getting trapped in the web of club-going high roller, and generic hip hop culture impresario, Chicago (Datari Turner).

All of this is presented in blunt fashion with such disconnection from actual emotion that it’s very hard to believe the filmmaker experienced something similar. The only purpose of the current scene is to fit between what had come before and precede what comes next - sick dad to stripper to getting pulled in by high roller to boy problems. Nothing more, nothing less in this lesser kind of movie. There is manufactured conflict in the form of veteran dancer Lexus (Carmen Electra), but she’s just a prop to cause pain (in the form of sabotage) or provide pleasure (in the form of Ecstasy) for Monica. Kevin cozies up to another dancer when it’s required for he and Monica to have a fight. Chicago gets Monica away from Kevin temporarily, but the “coming to her senses” moment is abrupt and absurd.

Acting is uniformly dreadful. Cobrin was enjoyable enough saccharine in a small supporting role in American Reunion, but is almost unbearable here. She has a Fran Drescher-in-training high pitched nasal delivery that is grating enough on its own, never mind her dialogue sounding as though it’s being read from cue cards jut off camera. Hoffman is so lifeless we hardly seem to notice when he’s around and when he’s not; not that it matters.

What’s absolutely confounding is the list of (fairly) recognizable names that pop up in meaningless supporting roles. In addition to James Remar we get Stacey Dash, Nia Peeples, Mariel Hemingway and Lynn Whitfield, who all must owe favors or mortgage payments. Hemingway has the most unfortunate moment, fighting back emotion while singing “This Little Light of Mine” in what may go down as the most unintentionally hilarious deathbed serenade of all time.

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