“Strippers” refrains from showing women undressing in front of men for greenbacks, but it ends up being more dehumanizing than any strip club. Writer-director Jorge Ameer’s paranoid look at L.A. corporate life is amateurish, undramatic and bereft of any sense of pacing, yet has somehow managed to score theatrical screens. This IPO will quickly drop off the charts.
The film’s relentlessly moribund storytelling and lack of truly sensational moments has a lulling effect on the viewer, but this conceals an unsavory impulse at the heart of the project. Besides a general misanthropy on view, few pics in recent memory have depicted women so negatively — not only in brief views of strippers themselves, but in every imaginable stereotype, from the Money-Grubbing Bitch to the Bimbo Clerk to the Nymphomaniac CEO.
Marketing director Alan (Tony Tucci) returns home from a day at work in an L.A. office tower to learn that his bank account is being rapidly depleted of funds and that he’s laid off from his firm. Best pal and self-described “inventor of adult curiosities” Kevin (Ameer) awkwardly delivers to Alan the $20,000 ring he’s bought for g.f. Susan (Kerrie Clark), but, fatefully, Alan falls asleep and fails to get ready for his date with her. When she wakes him, everything seems to go from bad to worse, in an absurd scenario that would be better played as black comedy but is instead depicted with utter gravity.
Money is getting flushed out of Alan’s low-six-figure account faster than you can say “overdraft protection,” his credit is shot, his landlord evicts him, he’s carjacked and his furniture is repossessed. In light of Susan’s sheer shopaholic obnoxiousness and self-centeredness, Alan might feel grateful when he receives her Dear John note. Life gets worse for Alan and us when he finds himself stuck in a cheapo apartment with only motor-mouth Kevin as company (in a terribly indulgent bit of pseudo-comic relief from Ameer).
A job-hunting sequence, plus visits to a strip club, provide pic with an excuse for its insulting depiction of women, capped by a crotch-grabbing boss (Linda Graybel) who apparently thinks she’s an updated version of Joan Collins. The main narrative, which clocks in at just over an hour, is made to feel twice that long with a mind-numbing spew of numbers and accounting details regarding Alan’s disastrous finances, as well as complete inattention to what should be Alan’s central motivation: to capture and bring to justice those who are bilking him.
Supported by an inept cast, Tucci must hold things together, but all he can show us is that Alan is a wimpy pushover. In an unusual casting credit, co-producer John Greenlaw, who did stand-ins for the role of Alan, receives co-credit onscreen with Tucci. The production look is pure bargain basement.