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Stars: Jennifer Lopez, Constance Wu, Lili Reinhart, Keke Palmer, Julia Stiles, Mercedes Ruehl, Madeline Brewer, Wai Ching Ho, Cardi B, Lizzo

Director: Lorene Scafaria

Despite Lopez's best performance in quite a while, this is a deeply dispiriting film, based on true events, and centred on a group of pole dancers at a 'gentlemens' club who tire of giving up percentages of their earnings to club heavies, and decide to branch out on their own, bearing in mind the club's advice to 'get the customers drunk enough to hand over their credit cards but sober enough to sign a cheque'.

The girls throw in a cocktail of drugs which renders their victims virtually comatose. Their dresser (Ruehl) is the mother hen of the group, while tough veteran stripper Ramona (Lopez) is the leader, taking Eurasian-American Dorothy, later Destiny (Wu) under her wing. Palmer and Reinhart are the other main girls, while such star-billed names as Cardi B and Lizzo are barely (sorry) in it, and Stiles has a rotten role as the reporter documenting it all.

We're supposed to empathise with this unsavoury collection, especially Wu, who does it all for her little daughter and old grandmother, but it just doesn't work. So we're perhaps not sorry (or surprised) that their reprehensible (and barely legal) schemes go pear-shaped in the end.

The diminutive Wu swears up a storm but can be few people's idea of a busty pole dancer. And one shopping expedition for ill-gotten gains or fleecing of the latest drugged victim looks much like another. Through it all, only Lopez contrives to look as she might really belong in this twilight, neon-lit world. But the film, which has no drive to it, gives her an inconsistent character with which to work. Your eyelids may droop, in fact, even as the girls go through the familiar motions of bump and grind.

David Quinlan

USA 2019. UK Distributor: STX International. Colour by deluxe.
107 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 2, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 2, Swearing 3.

Review date: 09 Sep 2019