Follow TV Tropes


Film / Striptease

Go To

A 1996 Sex Comedy written and directed by Andrew Bergman, based on a novel by Carl Hiaasen, Striptease features Erin Grant (played by Demi Moore), a former FBI secretary, who has taken up work as a stripper at the Eager Beaver in order to earn the money she needs to afford an appeal for child custody. She's adored by two of the patrons in particular, one of them an influential Congressman David Dilbeck (Burt Reynolds) with an election coming up, and a plan emerges to try and blackmail the Congressman about his (ahem) avid interest in Grant, so that she can afford to keep the custody battle going until she wins.

Unfortunately for those involved in the plan, the Congressman's business connections really want him to win the election - no matter who they have to silence in order to make sure his skeletons stay in the closet...

While notable for being one of the (several) roles where Demi Moore appears topless, it's probably more memorable for having been panned by the critics and winning several Razzie Awards, including "Worst Picture of 1996".

Tropes in the novel:

  • Animal Assassin: A non-lethal example. After a rival strip club's owner gropes Urbana Sprawl's breasts during her "job interview", Shad strips the man naked, binds him upright to a door, and places another dancer's boa constrictor on the floor, where it identifies the man's "luckless" penis as resembling a small rodent snack.
  • As the Good Book Says...: the divorce judge who separates Erin from her daughter and puts her into the custody of her drug addict, wheelchair-stealing ex-husband, claims to be deeply religious:
    • He brings a Bible during his regular visits to Erin's strip club (balancing it on his knee to cover his hand's activity with his crotch) and claims that the justification for his actions is in there, "plain as day";
    • When Moldowsky hears that the same judge offered to reconsider Erin's custody case in exchange for a free blowjob, Moldowsky reacts: "Bible quotes? From what, the Book of Dick?"
  • Badass Boast: Erin Grant, taking aim at a helpless man's crotch with a pot of boiling hot coffee: "I'm not sure this'll kill you, but you'll wish it had."
  • Bittersweet Ending: Dilbeck is forced to resign from Congress, but the sugar industry quickly replaces him with another favored politician, and the agricultural subsidies pass without opposition. Naturally, the Rojo brothers are never even suspected of involvement in the murders of Jerry Killian, Mordecai, or Joyce Mizner.
    • To emphasize the bitterness, the Rojo brothers announce that they are funding full college scholarships for Killian's daughters.
  • Blessed with Suck: Al Garcia's memory makes him an excellent detective, but it also means he can recall almost all the details of every one of the 1,092 homicides he's personally investigated.
  • Broken Pedestal: Garcia's boss voted for Dilbeck in the past, giving him an It's Personal feeling about letting Al take the congressman down after his sins come to light.
  • Cloudcuckoolander's Minder: Erb Crandall, the executive assistant, bagman and bodyguard of the drunken, sex-crazed Congressman David Dilbeck.
  • Crapsaccharine World: Literally.
    • Florida's sugar cane industry is dominated by Corrupt Corporate Executives willing to commit murder to safeguard their profits and run with migrant workers kept as ''de facto'' slaves.
    • In the 1970s, Miami's luxurious beachfront hotels dumped so much sewage into the ocean that the coral reefs died. For the sake of tourism, pipes carried the sewage a few miles offshore, so beachgoers wouldn't have to see it.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: Darrell Grant falls into a drug-induced sleep in a vat of sugarcane, which is then fed through a processing plant.
  • Disney Owns This Trope: In the "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue, Erin moves to Orlando with Angela and gets back her day job with the F.B.I., and a night job dancing as "Cinderella's eldest stepsister" in Disney World's Main Street parade. Given what else Hiaasen has written about Disney, the implication is clear that, if Disney World knew about her prior work as a nude dancer, it would make sure this information never came to light.
  • Disposing of a Body: Lampshaded by Garcia's exchange with his lieutenant, who remarks that an actual study has been done, proving that a corpse decomposes in Florida's climate faster than anywhere else in the country; the state is also amply supplied with bodies of water convenient for making a corpse disappear.
  • Dude, Where's My Reward?: During her first private performance for him, Dilbeck rhapsodizes about how much he "loves" Erin, and offers her a job with his office in Washington, medical benefits, a new car... Erin "innocently" asks him if he expects sex as a reward, then says that she can already tell he's a true gentleman and wouldn't ask for something so crude. Dilbeck (who by Al Garcia's reckoning is at least 30 IQ points dumber than Erin) is lost for any response that doesn't equate to a Blunt "Yes", of course he expects sex as a reward.
  • Entitled to Have You: for Dilbeck, it's not a question of if, but rather when, Erin will sleep with him - after all, what woman, of any age, wouldn't jump at the chance to screw a genuine United States Congressman? - and how extravagantly she'll thank him for the privilege afterwards.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: When Congressman Dilbeck asks the judge handling the Grants' divorce case if he would help her out in exchange for a favor - like, say, a federal position - the judge informs Dilbeck he doesn't need Dilbeck's help in that regard. However, he would be able to help Erin out if she gave him a blow job. Malcolm, his "handler", is not amused: "Killian won't go for it. The mother won't go for it. Hell, Davey, I've got no morals whatsoever and I wouldn't go for it."
  • Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: Moldowsky, having arranged the murder of Erin Grant's lovestruck fan, Jerry Killian, to protect Congressman Dilbeck's reputation, reasons that having Erin killed is not feasible, but guesses that she can likewise be bribed to stay silent, fatally underestimating just how furious she is over Killian's murder.
  • Excrement Statement: After denying Erin custody of her daughter and turning her over to the care of her felonious, drug-addicted ex-husband, the divorce judge becomes a regular at the Eager Beaver. Shad expresses his contempt for the man by secretly pissing in the man's glasses of Jack Daniel's, of which the judge remains unaware.
  • Faked Food Contaminant: In one scene, Shad the Bouncer is seen carefully tampering with a yogurt container so he can slip in a cockroach, which he will then use to file a Frivolous Lawsuit on the yogurt's manufacturer. It ends up going wrong for Shad, though, because in a latter scene where he meets a lawyer to file it, the lawyer's secretary eats the yogurt, dead cockroach and all while they weren't looking.
  • Fate Worse than Death: In the conclusion, when Erin has forced Dilbeck to resign from Congress rather than face arrest and public exposure, Shad complains that Dilbeck got off easy. Garcia disagrees, saying the trope name word for word.
    • Sure enough, in the "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue, Dilbeck is alive and well to watch his main critic on the agricultural committee assume the same role as the sugar industry's favored politician, and can vividly imagine the man being plied with the same girls, yacht rides and mountainous campaign donations that Dilbeck once enjoyed.
  • Gold Digger: Erin's mother is on the fifth of a series of increasingly rich husbands. Erin considers it not much more dignified than her own occupation at the Eager Beaver. was the same game of tease, the same basic equation. Use what you've got to get what you want.
  • Groin Attack:
    • Erin extracts her daughter's location from the housemate of Darrel's reluctant sister by taking aim at his crotch with a pot of steaming-hot coffee;
    • A drunken customer touches Erin's exposed groin during a table dance. She retaliates by kicking him square in the face, spraining his neck. When Orly berates Erin for overreacting, Urbana Sprawl is livid:
      Nobody touches me 'less I wanna be touched, especially down there. I don't care who it is, or how shitfaced they are, or how much money they got, I won't stand for it. That little shit's lucky to get out with a sprained neck, because if it was me, I'd rip his damn balls off with my bare hands, just like this... and don't think I can't!
    • When one of the "Flesh Farm"'s owners gropes Urbana's breasts during her "job interview," Shad avenges her honor by stripping the man naked, tying him upright to a door, and placing another dancer's boa constrictor on the floor in front of him ("You know what? Your schlong looks just like a hamster.")
  • Hidden Depths: It really shouldn't need to be said that there's more to women who work as strippers than just their looks, but most of the men in the novel are surprised (and usually dismayed) to learn that these women have thoughts, feelings, and aspirations beyond nude dancing. The "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue makes this explicit:
    • Urbana Sprawl, who is well-endowed, eventually quits the Eager Beaver and becomes a premed student in Atlanta;
    • "Sabrina", after a brief career in adult films, becomes the spokesmodel for a new exercise machine;
    • After getting Angela back, Erin moves to Orlando and regains her job as a secretary for the F.B.I., and is in the process of applying to become a Special Agent.
    • Likewise Shad, the Eager Beaver's brutish-looking bouncer, reads Franz Kafka and Albert Camus during lazy moments at the club. Reading The Metamorphosis, he likens it to his own situation, becoming alarmingly jaded at the sight of naked women: "People change overnight, they're not careful."
  • Hooker with a Heart of Gold: Averted; Erin Grant has been forced to become a Single Mom Stripper, but makes clear to her friend Urbana Sprawl that, no matter how desperate she is to earn money to regain custody of her daughter, "I'll rob Jiffy Marts before I'll turn tricks." Of course, the recurring problem with her profession is that many of her customers, and her Stalker with a Crush, Congressman Dilbeck, both assume that being a stripper is not too great a leap from being a hooker.
  • I'll Pretend I Didn't Hear That: This is Orly's response when Erin (on behalf of the other dancers) requests that the air conditioning be turned up. Orly is pretending this is to prevent her from getting in trouble, but is really hoping to just ignore the request until the issue is forgotten. When Erin then writes down "72 or no dancing", he adds "I'll pretend I didn't see that."
  • Inherent in the System: Al Garcia, Hiaasen's recurring Knight in Sour Armor, delivers a fine monologue:
    See, people have this concept of justice. They talk about 'the system' - meaning cops, judges, juries and prisons. "If only the system worked," they say, "there wouldn't be a crime problem. The streets would be safe, the bad guys would be locked up for life!"... Your average taxpayer can't understand. See, the system is a game and that's all... so what I do then, I try and set things in motion. Make the shit fly and see where it sticks.
  • Instant Turn-Off: During her second private performance for Dilbeck, Erin seizes his hands and places them on her breasts. The experience is the opposite of erotic, as she sardonically asks him why men are willing to pay thousands of dollars just for a "peek and a jiggle" of what are, essentially, two lumps of fat "with a cherry on top."
    • When Dilbeck feebly protests that "all men... struggle with fleshly temptations", Erin helpfully reminds him that he's married.
  • Insult to Rocks: The Eager Beaver. "It's an insult to women, and it's an insult to beavers."
  • Ironic Juxtaposition:
    • Whenever Erin uses the word "love", she's talking about her "wonderful" eight-year-old daughter, who Erin will go to any lengths to protect.
    • Whenever Dilbeck uses the word "love", he's talking about his obsessive desire to have sex with Erin; beyond the fact that she's physically attractive and works as a stripper, he doesn't know the first thing about her, and couldn't care less about learning (indeed, if he knew anything else about her, the fact that she used to work for the F.B.I. and is still on very good terms with her old boss, might convince a Corrupt Politician like him to look elsewhere to get laid).
  • Jerk With A Heart Of Jerk: Hiaasen often specializes in creating a scene in which the hero/protagonist confronts the villain(s), trying to understand the motives for their actions, but always ends up unsatisfied with the outcome, when the villains turn out to be just as lazy, greedy, shallow and vacuous as their actions make them appear; at the climax, Erin Grant forces corrupt Congressman David Dilbeck into a sugar cane field at gunpoint and orders him to cut sugar in the same manner as the migrant workers used by his corporate backers as de facto slaves, while revealing to him that these same backers murdered three people to keep him in office; Dilbeck had no idea about the murders, but he feels no remorse, and retreats into "parroting a boilerplate campaign speech", explaining how much good he's done as a U.S. Congressman: "I've voted for every important issue that's come through Congress! Equal opportunity housing, fair employment, lower cable TV rates!"
  • Karmic Death: Darrell Grant, Erin Grant's felonious, drug addict ex-husband, gets completely stoned on stolen cancer medication, and thinks it a fine idea to hide from his vengeful ex-wife in a bed of freshly-cut sugar cane; after passing out, the cane is trucked to the mill and fed into a shredding machine.
  • Knight in Shining Armor: After the owner of a rival strip club gropes Urbana Sprawl's breasts during her "job interview," Shad avenges her honor by tying the man to a door, naked, and siccing a hungry boa constrictor at the man's groin. During the act, he reflects that he feels "serene and contented... a rare moment of moral clarity."
  • Knight in Sour Armor: Al Garcia, having been a homicide detective for 14 years, says he "gave up on being a hero a long time ago... but that doesn't mean there can't be justice."
  • Last-Name Basis: Mordecai is only referred to by that name, Mordecai, throughout the novel (even Joyce refers to him as her "cousin Mordecai"). Since Mordecai is a rare, but not unknown, first name in the U.S., the reader will probably assume that is the character's first name. It is only in the "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue that his full name (Jonathan Peter Mordecai) is given. (There's no plot reason for any first/last name confusion, it just comes as a mild surprise to any reader who happens to notice.)
  • Loosely Based On A True Story: Dilbeck's drunken antics at the Eager Beaver were inspired by Congressman J. Herbert Burke's antics at a strip club.
  • Manchild: Dilbeck. Despite being egregiously corrupt, Dilbeck is less a Big Bad than a sixty-something arrested adolescent who honestly doesn't see anything wrong with his obsessive, single-minded pursuit of sex, money, and other forms of personal gratification. He never bothers to understand any of the issues he parrots about in his campaign, or the murderous lengths to which his patrons will go to keep him in office. For him, life is simple: do what the smart, powerful people (Moldowsky and the Rojos) tell him to do, and he will receive all manner of rewards and nothing really bad will ever happen to him, no matter how idiotically he behaves.
    • After her first private performance for Dilbeck, Erin realizes that, for all his supposed power and influence, she has the upper hand: "He's harmless. Trust me, he's a little boy."
    • When he is arrested by the F.B.I. for kidnapping and attempted rape, his first impulse is to call Moldowsky to straighten everything out; upon being told that Moldowsky is unavailable (permanently), he faints dead away.
  • Named After Somebody Famous: Jesse James Braden and his younger brother, Francis Scott Braden;
  • Nature Is Not Nice:
    • Congressman Dilbeck doesn't understand "what all the fuss was about" Florida's sugar industry pouring "billions of gallons of waste into the Everglades... it was torpid, swampy and crawling with bugs... 'and I've seen prettier water in a pig trough.'"
    • Darrel's sister, Rita, breeds puppies from her timber wolf hybrid, which become "the latest craze in macho dogs." Unfortunately, the wolf savages Rita's housemate after Erin leaves him with a bloodied tongue, and is ordered put down after she kills an African springbok at the Miami Zoo, forcing Rita to flee the county.
  • No Hero to His Valet: Erb Crandall, Dilbeck's executive assistant, bag man, and part-time pimp, gave up any romantic notions about a career in politics long ago.
  • Noodle Incident: As an alternative to another drunken night out, Crandall calls a pair of strippers to give Dilbeck a private show at his home. The show is cut short when one of the dancers punches Dilbeck between the eyes and then runs out to the limousine, "scared shitless." Crandall asks what Dilbeck did to provoke her, and the dancer tells him. The details are not spelled out for the reader, but Crandall and Moldowsky are both thoroughly disgusted (Moldowsky later tells Dilbeck that he should consider himself lucky the woman didn't stomp on his testicles).
  • No Such Thing as Bad Publicity: In-Universe. Orly is initially "jubilant" when an elderly judge dies during a table dance at the rival "Flesh Farm" club and the incident is covered in glorious detail by all the TV stations; less than a week later, he is fuming because the club's owners are actually taking reservations, so many people want to see where it happened.
  • One-Steve Limit: In-Universe: two strippers at the Eager Beaver want to use the name stage name of "Monique". Since neither is willing to change her name, they settle on being known as "Monique Sr." and "Monique Jr."
  • Only in Florida: Erin recalls that in many ways she's much more street-smart than the F.B.I. Agent who she worked for, who was "hopelessly Midwestern in his approach. South Florida ate him alive."
  • Power is Sexy: partially averted. The perpetually horny Congressman David Dilbeck first learned as a Florida state senator that "some women were attracted to politicians and would actually have sex with them"; by the time he is in his 60s, he expects any woman, of any age, to fall at his feet after he mentions his title or shows photos of himself with Washington insiders; the fact that Erin Grant remains completely unimpressed both vexes and baffles him;
  • Recurring Character: Al Garcia
  • Sex Equals Love: Inverted. Dilbeck tosses around the word "love" whenever describing his feelings towards Erin, but all he's describing is his obsessive desire to sleep with her.
  • Single Woman Seeks Good Man:
    • Erin becomes strongly attracted to Al Garcia (and even has an Erotic Dream about him) precisely because he is Happily Married, shows no romantic interest in her at all, and is just a tired professional trying to do an ugly job as best he can. The fact that nothing actually happens between them just makes her feelings that much more understandable.
    • Inverted (i.e., Single Man Seeks Good Woman): Erin's Gold Digger mother scorns the idea that her daughter could make a living as a stripper (primarily because her natural breasts are, in her mother's opinion, much too small), but as Orly attests, she quickly becomes one of the Eager Beaver's biggest draws, largely because her dancing skills are much better than the other performers, who rely primarily on their boobs or other gimmicks; lampshaded by Urbana Sprawl's advice to Erin to get a favorable reaction from customers: "A smile beats forty-inch jugs any day."
  • Skewed Priorities: Any normally adjusted adult male, even a politician, might stop and wonder if it's a good idea to be hanging out in strip bars in the middle of his reelection campaign, particularly when that political career is so laden with illicit benefits. Not Dilbeck.
  • So Beautiful, It's a Curse: Being a stripper, Erin has had to deal with more than her share of Loony Fans and stalkers; within five minutes of meeting Dilbeck, who professes to "love" her, she quickly discerns that, apart from her looks, he knows nothing about her and cares even less. In the final scene, when she confronts him with the consequences of his corrupt behavior, it finally penetrates Dilbeck's brain that, far from being "just another dumb whore", she's actually intelligent, well-read on current events, and possessed of a strong moral center – and it fills him with dismay, since none of these are qualities which he finds attractive in a woman, or even expects to encounter in one.
  • Society Is to Blame: subverted. In nearly all of Hiaasen's novels, there is at least one villainous or criminal character whose backstory makes clear that they started out with affectionate parents, good teachers, and no obvious trauma or temptation towards criminality, and yet they become criminals anyway, largely because they are too lazy to pay attention in school or hold legitimate jobs:
    • Erin recalls that when she first met Darrell Grant, she "was still naive enough to believe that all crooks had bad teeth, greasy hair, and jailhouse tattoos. She assumed that cleancut, good-looking young men possessed the same natural advantages as cleancut, good-looking young women: the world treated you better, and consequently there was no reason for unwholesome behavior."
    • Darrel's older sister, Rita, echoes this belief, telling her brother that he is so handsome and charming that he "can do anything you want in this world", but Darrell reflects that he's "chronically ill-suited for the responsibilities that come with lawful behavior."
  • Swarm of Rats: How Shad sabotages the rival "Flesh Farm" after one of their owners makes a lewd advance against Urbana Sprawl. He reflects that it's more effective than Orly's wish to burn the place down, since it's probably not covered by the owners' insurance.
  • Take That!:
    • Most of Hiaasen's novels go after those who went after the Florida Everglades, but he has a few specific targets as well: in Strip Tease he includes the U.S. Congress in his list of targets, for renewing government subsidies to Florida's sugar industry every year, portraying these obnoxiously rich people as "struggling family farmer[s]."
    • If three members of Dilbeck's agricultural committee are now refusing to vote in favor of the subsidies, it's not (as they claim) because they're concerned about the sugar industry's exploitation of migrant labor or their egregious pollution of the Everglades; it's because they're pissed off at Dilbeck, who (by drunken accident) killed a House bill to raise their salaries, including his own.
  • Tongue Trauma: when her daughter is staying with the ex-husband's sister, the sister's horny housemate offers to show Erin where the daughter is being kept, if she gives him a private show; she ends the show by kneeing him in the chin, causing him to bite off a chunk of his own tongue (to be fair, that wouldn't have happened if he hadn't been extending his tongue toward her at the moment of impact).
  • Undignified Death: The hypocritical judge who separated Erin from her daughter dies of a massive stroke at the Eager Beaver's rival strip club, at the precise moment when one of the dangers drapes her bustier over his head; at the moment of his death, his hand (presumably his right) is clamped so intractably to his crotch that it remains attached throughout the paramedics' efforts to resuscitate him.
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight:
    • After eleven years of working in strip joints, the Eager Beaver's bouncer, Shad, honestly doesn't notice when a woman has her breasts bared, which he is increasingly concerned about;
    • Played for Laughs when Al Garcia questions the manager of the airport motel where Jerry Killian was briefly held before being abducted to Montana; asked if any guests who previously stayed in the room stood out:
      Miklos said yes. One man checked in with a bag of live gerbils and a video camera.
      "And you find that unusual?" Garcia smiled. "Go on."
  • Viewers Are Morons: In-Universe.
    • Dilbeck secured his election to Congress by delivering a eulogy at his precedessor's funeral; the TV stations didn't run the whole speech, just the first few seconds of it, and that was enough to cement his place in viewers' memories over all the other hopefuls: "Hands down, Dilbeck had given the best damn sound bite at the funeral."
    • Erin, who used to work for the F.B.I., remembers her boss lecturing the office staff on election days, that people who don't vote have no grounds to complain, but voting is pointless unless the electorate stays alert and well-informed.
      He was right, Erin thought. This is what I get for not paying attention. Thieves like David Lane Dilbeck couldn't get elected dogcatcher without the gross apathy of the masses."
  • Villain with Good Publicity: A fair amount of the Corrupt Politician's, Corrupt Corporate Executive's and the like
  • Was It Really Worth It?: Moldowsky, trying to get Dilbeck to focus on his campaign, offers to bring a woman to stay in Dilbeck's home to act as a Sex Slave, even two women if Dilbeck insists. Dilbeck declines, saying it has to be Erin, and no one but Erin. By the end of the novel, he's been forced to resign from Congress, give up all his lucrative fringe benefits, and watch his main political opponent assume his special role as the sugar industry's "fixer." And no, he didn't get to sleep with Erin.
  • Weird Trade Union: Orly complains that Erin usually speaks for the other dancers in demanding pay raises, health benefits and improvements in the club's working conditions, to the point where they are "practically unionized."
  • "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue: A staple of Hiaasen's novels.
  • You Have No Idea Who You're Dealing With: After both Killian and Mordecai are killed trying to blackmail Dilbeck, Garcia points out the millions of dollars that the sugar industry rakes in from the government's subsidies, and says the trope name with respect to both men.
    • Inverted with Dilbeck and Erin: Dilbeck makes the fatal mistake of assuming that Erin, being "just a stripper", couldn't fail to swoon at his title, or possibly present any threat to his public image; but Garcia points out that Erin is the one "holding the high cards":
      Here's this arrogant old fart who thinks he's God's gift to pussy, but all he wants in the whole wide world is the love of this one gorgeous dancer. I mean, he'd be in heaven if this girl just smiled in the general direction of his dick... and Erin, she's got thirty I.Q. points on him, easy.

Tropes in the film:

  • Actor Allusion: Just to drive home that the sugar tycoon Willie Rojo is a Corrupt Corporate Executive, he is shown holding court like a Mafia don, issuing orders to have inconvenient witnesses killed, and played by Gianni Russo.
  • Adaptation Distillation: The subplot regarding the sugar industry is trimmed down, and several scenes that introduce us to the lawyer Mordecai and his cousin Joyce are removed. Killian also loses a proper introduction, and Darrel lives at the end.
  • Adaptational Villainy:
    • In the novel, Dilbeck is egregiously corrupt, but too stupid to realize that the Rojo brothers are murdering the people trying to blackmail him (and knows better than to ask); in the film, he is fully aware of and complicit in the murders of Killian and Mordecai;
    • Chris Rojo is a spoiled party boy involved in bribing Dilbeck in both versions, but the film makes him a Composite Character with his uncle, so he participates in the debate about whether to murder Mordecai. Chris favors paying the blackmailer and letting him live, but he doesn't stop his father from going through with the murder.
  • Award-Bait Song: "I Live For You" sung in the end credits by Chyna Phillips. Symbolizing the mother-daughter bond between Erin and Angela.
  • Big "SHUT UP!": Moldowsky, to Dilbeck:
    Dilbeck: You see, I just love naked women. It's a character flaw. And God's testing me now...
    Moldowsky: Oh, will you shut up, you idiot?!
  • The Coroner: The morgue attendant who casually exhibits Mordecai's crab-eaten face to Shad and Garcia
    Coroner: Can I interest you in dessert?
    Garcia: No, just the check.
  • Demoted to Extra: Jerry Killian is a very minor character in the book, but his screen time in the movie is still reduced. Joyce Mizner (Paul Guber's fiancée) is reduced to The Ghost, and never appears on screen, but is only mentioned..
  • Fan Disservice: Half-naked and oiled Burt Reynolds.
  • Fanservice: All of it.
  • Film of the Book: Based on Hiaasen's novel of the same name. One concession that the critics allow is that the screenplay is pretty faithful to the book.
  • Flag Bikini: One of the strippers at Eager Beaver wears an American flag bikini and sailor hat as part of her costume.
  • Fluffy Fashion Feathers: At one point, Erin wears a black feather boa scarf as part of one of her routines. Combined with her diamond earrings and necklace, black Opera Gloves and her hair done in a Prim and Proper Bun, she's apparently going for a "classy and glamourous" theme.
  • Grammar Nazi: Moldowsky lunges at Darrell with a fire axe, and Darrell knocks him on his ass with the golf club strapped to his arm as a makeshift splint:
    Darrell: You got my daughter, and now you try and kill me with a axe!
    Moldowsky: I don't have your daughter, you're confused...! And it's "an axe."
  • Hollywood Law: A real judge would never even have given a criminal with a record like Darrell's visitation rights, much less sole custody. The book explains it by saying that the local cops buried his record when he agreed to be an informant (which probably wouldn't have happened in real life either).
  • Ms. Fanservice: Grant. And how!
  • Pre Ass Kicking One Liner: Shad, approaching Moldowsky's two goons:
    Nico: What are you, nuts?!
    Shad: Yeah, psycho. Delusions of invincibility combined with a strong homicidal urge. I have a kick-your-ass fetish.
  • Related Differently in the Adaptation: In the book, Mordecai is a cousin of Paul Gruber's fiancee Joyce, while in the film, he's Paul's uncle.
  • "Risky Business" Dance: Subverted; Erin was actually rehearsing when Lt. Garcia came knocking on her door, and he didn't see anything.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here: Erb Crandall, Congressman Dilbeck's Beleaguered Assistant, finally reaches his limit after being ordered to steal Erin Grant's laundry lint, so Dilbeck can have sex with it.
    Erb: I did not go into politics to pimp for a twisted old fuck like you! I've had it, Davey! (yanks off his campaign pin and drops it into Dilbeck's hat) I quit.
    Dilbeck: You are such a child.
  • Sophisticated as Hell: Shad's self-description: "Delusions of invincibility combined with a strong homicidal urge. I have a kick-your-ass fetish."
  • Spared by the Adaptation:
    • Darrell does not get caught in a sugar milling machine in the movie.
    • Joyce/Melissa isn't involved in blackmailing Dilbeck and isn't killed along with Mordecai.
    • Moldowsky is arrested instead of being beaten to death by Darrell.
    • Crandall dies in the book's Where Are They Now epilogue, which is left out of the movie.
  • Yandere: Dilbeck.

Tropes in both the novel and the film:

  • Alcohol-Induced Idiocy: Congressman David Dilbeck gets hopelessly drunk on champagne at the Eager Beaver Lounge, and, overcome with what he claims is love for one of the dancers, jumps on stage and attacks another patron grabbing her.
    • In the novel, the agricultural subsidies bill that Dilbeck is supposed to pass for the sugar industry is already in trouble because Dilbeck got drunk on the floor of the House and accidentally cast the deciding vote against a pay raise for himself and his fellow Congressmen, all of whom are furious.
  • Armor-Piercing Question:
    • In the novel:
      Congressman David Dilbeck: Stop, goddamn it! Stop making fun and show some goddamn respect!
      Erin Grant: Respect? Aren't you the same gentleman who had sex with my laundry lint?
      Congressman David Dilbeck: ...Let's change the subject.
    • In the film:
      Congressman David Dilbeck: You can't talk to me like that, I'm a United States Congressman!
      Moldowsky: I can't? When you go psycho in a titty bar six weeks before the election, what should I call you? Winston Fucking Churchill?
  • Beleaguered Assistant: Erb Crandall, Congressman David Dilbeck's executive assistant and "longtime bagman", constantly has to chaperone his boss to strip clubs and keep him from being recognized; when Dilbeck becomes obsessed with one particular dancer, Erin Grant, he conscripts Erb to follow her, steal her lint from a public laundromat (for use by Dilbeck as a sex toy) and break into her apartment to steal one of her razors. Fed up, Erb places the sharp blade of a screwdriver to Dilbeck's throat, complaining that "I did not go into politics to pimp and steal for a perverted old f**k like you." In the film, Erb quits Dilbeck's campaign just after delivering this speech.
  • Believing Your Own Lies: As a member of Congress, David Dilbeck has never aspired to do more than "coast along as a well-lubricated lackey" for the sugar industry and other special interests, yet he becomes fiercely defensive and indignant when his title fails to impress Erin Grant:
    Dilbeck: These are important goddamn people! I'm an important person! These are the men who run this nation! The men who control the fate of the world!
    Erin tried not to laugh. The poor schlub truly believed himself to be a pillar of state.
    • Garcia also points out that Dilbeck, a noticeably paunchy man well into his 60's, honestly believes himself to be "God's gift to pussy"; in the film, Dilbeck rhapsodizes about the "ecstasy" Erin is in for, about to make love with an actual United States Congressman.
  • Blackmail Backfire: Jerry Killian, and then Mordecai and Joyce.
  • Con Man: Grant's ex-husband, Darrel, is notable for this; the first scene we see him in has him using his daughter to help steal wheelchairs from a hospital, in order to sell them to a medical supply shop... which will, one assumes, sell them right back to the hospital.
  • Corrupt Bureaucrat: Dilbeck, the Congressman in question, has several business connections who want to make sure he stays in office - no matter what it takes. And he's not shy about trying to use his own power to get what he wants.
  • Corrupt Politician: Dilbeck.
  • Dirty Old Man: Partially averted; there is plenty of implied Squick in Dilbeck's lecherous interest in Erin Grant, but in fending off his advances, Erin never expressly says his age is a problem - if she doesn't find him attractive, it has more to do with the fact that he's egregiously corrupt, dumb as a brick and (indirectly) responsible for the murder of Erin's admiring fan;
    • Erin's exact age is never given in the novel or the film, but given that she has an eight-year-old daughter, she is implied to be in her early 30's (Demi Moore was 34 at the time of the film's release);
    • According to the novel, Dilbeck was 24 years old in 1956, making him 61 at the time of the novel's publication (Burt Reynolds was 60 at the time of the film's release)
  • Dramatically Missing the Point: After one of his drunken nights out touring strip bars, Dilbeck's driver happens to drive through a sugar cane field, where the migrant workers are cutting. Dilbeck remarks on the heat and reflects that he's heard how inhumane the working conditions in the fields are, but it's even worse than he'd imagined. Yet the notion that he is directly responsible for perpetuating these conditions, by constantly pushing through the Rojo brothers' subsidies in Congress, never crosses his mind.
  • Feather Boa Constrictor: One stripper's entire shtick is this. And then she gets an untrained snake...
  • Frivolous Lawsuit: The bouncer keeps trying to set things up so that he can launch one in the hopes that he will be given a big cash settlement to shut up.
  • The Ghost: Dilbeck's wife ("Pamela" in the novel, "Mary Pat" in the film) is rarely mentioned and never appears, even second-hand.
  • He Knows Too Much: This drives much of the main plot as characters discover a Congressman who beat up another patron at a nudie bar. They're hoping for some blackmail, but the Congressman's people have other ideas. A purer example is mostly in the background — three migrant workers are hired to murder one character, sent back to Jamaica afterward, and it's implied that a fatal accident will be arranged for them there.
  • Hypocrite: The Judge awards sole custody to Darrell (a convicted felon in constant violation of his parole) because Erin is a stripper (only because she lost her respectable job as a secretary for the FBI because of Darrel's criminal behavior).
    • In the novel, he then becomes a regular at the strip club just to watch her dance because apparently patronizing a stripper is less sinful than being one.
    • In the film, he suffers a heart attack in the audience of an adult movie theater.
  • I'm a Man; I Can't Help It: Congressman David Dilbeck's go-to excuse for his reckless behavior, including hanging out in strip bars during his reelection campaign, stalking the protagonist, dancer Erin Grant, and sending his aide, Erb Crandall, to steal her laundry lint, safety razor, and shoes so Dilbeck can have sex with them. When Crandall finally snaps and threatens to stab Dilbeck in the throat with a screwdriver, Dilbeck simply says, "Erb, please. This is harmless sport." Likewise, when his handler, Malcolm Moldowsky, confronts him, Dilbeck says he is simply trying to cope with his "animal urges" which he has no control over; in the film:
    Dilbeck: You see, I just love naked women... it's a character flaw.
    • Erin considers it ironic that each of her mother's five wealthy husbands recognized her for a "restless Gold Digger", yet married her anyway;
      It taught Erin one of life's great lessons: an attractive woman could get whatever she wanted, because men were so laughably weak. They would do anything for even the distant promise of sex.'';
    • Likewise, while working as a striptease dancer, she reflects:
      If you knew your stuff, you could work a guy all night and get every last dollar out of his wallet. You didn't have to blow him or screw him or even act like you might. A girlish smile, a sisterly hug, a few minutes of private conversation. Urbana Sprawl said it was the easiest money in the world, if you could get past being naked.
  • Honey Trap: Erin lures Dilbeck to his destruction by pretending to be (somewhat) interested in sleeping with him.
    • In the novel, she barely has to pretend at all: Dilbeck takes it for granted that any woman, especially a stripper, would jump at the chance to sleep with a real U.S. Congressman. Even when she draws a gun, kidnaps him, and orders him to cut sugar cane in a sweltering field, he assumes it's all part of a "game" that ends with her surrendering to him.
  • Indentured Servitude: The Rojo brothers, and Florida's sugar industry as a whole, leave the actual harvesting of their crop to Jamaican and Dominican migrant workers, who are paid "shameful wages" which are further reduced to practically nothing, thus rendering the migrant workers into ''de facto'' slaves;
    Dilbeck: How much you paying 'em?
    Christopher Rojo: Oh, I think they're up to like thirty dollars a day. Hey, but you subtract room and board, booze and smokes - who knows, maybe they pay us, huh? (laughs)
  • Insistent Terminology: Don't call the women working at the Eager Beaver "strippers" where Shad can hear you. Just...don't. They're not strippers; they're dancers.
  • Irony: Erin only became a stripper in the first place because Darrell's crimes got her fired from the FBI. Then the judge awarded sole custody to the criminal because she was a stripper, making her even more dependent upon her income as a stripper to continue the custody battle.
  • Knight in Shining Armor: Jerry Killian wanted to be this to Erin. Pity he had no idea who he was dealing with.
  • Loony Fan: Jerry Killian is very fond of Grant, although he's never quite implied to have gone to the point where he'd cross the line from Loony Fan to Stalker with a Crush - although that may be because Shad is quite open about being willing to inflict harm on anyone who seems to be a danger to the dancers. But he is the one who tries to blackmail Dilbeck, to try and get Grant's custody case judged in her favor. It gets him killed.
  • Lust Makes You Dumb: Although Dilbeck isn't that smart when he's sober or not obsessed with naked women, even his aides say he's lowered his own standards for dumb behavior once he becomes obsessed with "possessing" Erin;
    • He refuses to continue with his re-election campaign until he's made her his "steady mistress"; The fact that he's risking torpedoing his own career by chasing a woman in the middle of said campaign does not cross his mind, until well after he has passed the point of no return;
    • If he knew anything about Erin, beyond the fact that she's physically attractive and works as a stripper, the facts that she used to work for the F.B.I. and is still on very good terms with her old boss (whose job, after all, is to investigate Corrupt Politician|s) might convince him to look elsewhere;
    • In the finale, when Erin kidnaps him at gunpoint, drives him out to the sugar fields, makes him cut raw cane with a machete, and lectures him on the consequences of his corrupt behavior, he still thinks it's all part of a "game" that ends with her having "wild cowboy sex" with him.
  • Mama Bear: After losing custody of her daughter to her felonious ex-husband, Erin Grant will go to almost any lengths to get her back, including becoming an exotic dancer to pay for her attorney's fees.
  • Mood Whiplash: Erin's story, which revolves around becoming a stripper so she can get the custody of her daughter back, is very serious, in contrast to how silly, outlandish and usually Played for Laughs everything else is.
    • Donald Westlake's review of the novel noted, "In among his freaks and obsessives ... the author has dropped a real honest-to-God human being, an appealing young woman named Erin Grant. Her presence... makes the cartoon nastiness around her less cartoony and more nasty than in previous Hiaasen novels."
    • Roger Ebert's review even noted "all of the characters are hilarious except for Demi Moore's."
  • Police Are Useless: the Broward County Sheriff's Office is only too happy to expunge Darrell's criminal record, and arrange for him to be outside the county whenever his presence in the divorce court is required, all in exchange for Darrell ratting out three of his friends and promising to provide them with even more valuable information in the future, which he never does. He spends at least a year coasting on the detectives' goodwill, using Angela as a "prop" in his wheelchair thefts, before they finally wake up to the fact that he's jerking them around.
    • At one point, Erin is so desperate that she pleads with her old boss at the F.B.I. to intercede with the Sheriff's Office, but he says he can't break the rules, because Darrell hasn't committed any federal crimes.
    • During the climactic chase, Shad urges Garcia to call for backup, and Garcia (a veteran detective) ridicules the idea:
      First off, that's Palm Beach County, which is way out of my territory. Second, what do I tell them, chico? "See, guys, there's this stripper, who's been abducted by this Congressman, who's taking her to fucking Belle Glade of all places, in a goddamn stretch Cadillac. Yes, I said congressman. Yes, Belle Glade. Why? Well, we ain't too sure. But we'd appreciate six or seven marked units, if you can spare 'em..."
      "Fuck it," Shad muttered.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Connections!: The simple fact that Dilbeck is a Congressman, and Moldowsky is connected right up to the governor's office, makes Erin and Garcia well aware that trying to bring justice to either of them is an uphill battle. In the novel, Garcia's boss makes this explicit:
    Al, you can't just go out and bust a fucking Congressman... unless you catch him in the act. Preferably on videotape, with the Pope and Mary Tyler Moore as eyewitnesses.
  • Shown Their Work: Hiaasen, a former investigative reporter, does his homework, and nearly every one of his novels features an academically-toned passage educating the reader on a subject which happens to be very pertinent to the plot, including sugar cane farming.
    • In one interview about the film, he was asked how many strip bars he visited as "research" for his novel. He deadpanned, "Not as many as Demi Moore."
  • Single Mom Stripper: Erin Grant becomes a stripper, but only because she has to do something lucrative to pay off her legal fees from trying to get custody of her daughter from her sleazeball ex-husband. She never actually has much of a romance with anybody, let alone being saved by The Power of Love, and she gets the happiest ending of anyone in the book.
  • Small Name, Big Ego: Dilbeck, who "thinks he's adored by the masses" and "God's gift to [women]", not to mention the sugar industry's most favored "fixer". During his second "date" with Erin Grant, his overwhelming lust is (temporarily) eclipsed by his outrage that Erin is so unimpressed by his title or his "achievements."
    • During his "anonymous" visits to strip clubs, he tries to seduce several of the dancers by declaring his title; this would be disastrous for him, except that the women honestly have no clue who he is, and dismiss his claim as a cheap line;
    • Lampshaded with two brutal lines:
      • "Most of the women who slept with him did so mainly because he was a member of the House of Representatives, and therefore he qualified (marginally) as a power fuck."
      • When Dilbeck demands of the F.B.I. agents arresting him for attempted rape, "Don't you know who I am?!"
        The F.B.I. trained its agents in many tasks, but memorizing the faces of all 535 members of Congress was not one of them.
  • Stalker with a Crush: Congressman Dilbeck. He even goes so far as to have Grant's dryer lint stolen, so that he can have sex with it while it's still warm. Grant is incredibly creeped out when she finds out.
    • Inverted in the climax of the novel, when Dilbeck tries to talk his way out of being arrested for attempted rape by claiming to the F.B.I. agents that Erin was stalking him. Since Erin used to work for the Bureau and the arresting agents include her old boss, this story doesn't get much traction.
  • Stupid Crooks: Darrell Grant quit his job as a hospital orderly to devote himself full-time to stealing wheelchairs; when Shad asks Erin why he doesn't steal cars like normal thieves, her response is, "because he couldn't hotwire a goddamn toaster."
  • This Is a Drill: Shad's weapon when intimidating his attorney is a battery-powered hand drill.
  • Trophy Child: Angela Grant: her father, Darrell, is not abusive, but he uses her as a "human prop" in his wheelchair thefts, and his main interest in keeping custody of her is as "the prize" in "a game of keep-away" with his ex-wife.
  • Violence Really Is the Answer: Erin, an exotic dancer, brings the club's bouncer, Shad, along, as backup when she goes to meet with her ex-husband. He offers to get physical with the man, but she says no, asking if she's the sort of woman who brings that out in men.
    Shad: It's what I know—kicking ass. On account of my job... I'm just saying, sometimes violence can be useful. Sometimes it's the best way to make your point with someone.
    • In the film:
      Shad: You know, I'd embrace the opportunity to maim his white ass up.
      Erin: I know you would, and that's really thoughtful, but I don't think it would help me in court if I had him attacked.
  • Women Are Wiser: Erin enters a state of Tranquil Fury towards Dilbeck, because his stalking is a threat to her daughter, and because under normal circumstances he will escape justice for his corrupt politics and his role in Jerry Killian's murder:
    The idea of the arrogant old drooler going scot-free was unacceptable, so Erin had made up her mind to destroy him. Dilbeck wouldn't be harmed, crippled, or killed, just destroyed. It seemed the least she could do, and it had to be done alone. Women's work.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Dilbeck remains blissfully unaware that his irresponsible idiocy has finally become too much for Moldowsky and the Rojo brothers;
    • In the novel, Moldowsky's "dream vision of the future" is to have Dilbeck replaced as chairman of the Congressional agricultural committee the day after the latest subsidies are approved;
    • In the climax of the film, Moldowsky orders both him and Erin killed.


Video Example(s):


Business Suit Strip

Dancing to the song "Money Can't Buy It", Demi Moore's Erin Grant goes from a business suit to a skimpy gold thong bikini.

How well does it match the trope?

4 (8 votes)

Example of:

Main / YouCanLeaveYourHatOn

Media sources: