A mother takes her two daughter to various vaudeville shows with the hope of getting their talents recognised. With no luck, they go to the local strip club, where one of the daughter's becomes a huge success, naming herself Gypsy Rose Lee.
While the original 1962 musical which starred Rosalind Russell and Natalie Wood was just about okay end-of-the-pier stuff, this remake is totally at sea. Midler plays Rose, a monstrous mother desperate to put her daughters on the stage, who drags them round vaudeville year after year, plugging the same act in various guises a joke that wears progressively thinner as the hapless girls get too big for their bloomers in more ways than one. But vaudeville is by this time dying and the troupe end up as the legit act in a strip joint where daughter Gibb finds her true apotheosis as celebrated stripper Gypsy Rose Lee.
Meanwhile, three haggard sisters of the striptease serenade her with You Gotta Have A Gimmick while demonstrating theirs with wonderfully jaded gusto, and the tastelessness of it all momentarily approaches the sublime. Midler bawls and gabbles her way through two-and-a-half hours of sickly sentiment in a performance that swells before your very eyes from deeply unattractive to truly dreadful and beyond, while Gibb is convincing neither as ingenue nor world-famous sex-object.
The numbers are performed with either bellowing or simpering charmlessness depending on the tempo the famous one is Everything's Coming Up Roses and Jerome Robbins' choreography is so dated it creaks. As if all that weren't bad enough, the scenes in between are composed of absurd cliches and the whole rendered with a quite numbing wooden theatricality.
It seems a rather desperate move when studios make a remake of an only fairly successfully while making only the smallest of changes. Sadly the jokes wear thin within the first half hour, the songs remain just as unmemorable and the actresses have been very poorly cast.