- Movie Rating -

Can’t Stop the Music (1980)

| June 20, 1980

By a very strange set of circumstances, The Village People’s semi-autobiographical musical adventure Can’t Stop the Music just happened to open in the U.S. on the exact same day as John Landis’ The Blues Brothers.  Both films feature manufactured musical acts wrapped up in a paper-thin story interrupted by music and an overpopulation of supporting characters.  But, somehow, The Blues Brothers defied the dangers of its genre and overcame normally iron-clad law of over-inflated comedy, which states that the bigger the production, the less the results.  Can’t Stop the Music is not so lucky.

The first problem with this movie was timing.  It went into production on June 23, 1979, just 11 days after the infamous Disco Demolition Night at Cominsky Park in which thousands of Disco records were blown up and released a year later.  The result was more or less indifference from a public that had now turned off disco for good.  Therefore, it was a relic before it was even released.

The second problem is that the movie would have sucked even if disco hadn’t been chucked out the door.  The Village People get mired in a stupid story that is suppose to tell the story of how they came to be a popular singing group but the movie is so far from reality that you wonder if The Blues Brothers aren’t going to drive by.  Steve Guttenberg plays Jack Morell (a caricature of the group’s manager founder Jacques Moreli) who has written some terrific songs but only needs a group to sing them.  So, with the help of his luscious roommate Samantha (Valerie Perrine) and his lawyer Ron (not so luscious Bruce Jenner) they put together the Greenwich Village supergroup who, lucky for them, rocket to stardom.

There is hardly a movie here.  Had The Village People been out front, maybe it could have worked.  The problem is that their act keeps getting interrupted by the plot, which plays like the talky bits of a music video.  But the biggest problem is that the movie can’t decide what to do with the group.  Part of their appeal was that they showed Americans that gay men could have mainstream appeal.  Their act was a surprisingly homoerotic result of the gay liberation movement, and it was quite effective.  Elements of that can be seen in the film, which features musical numbers that take place in gyms and saunas but the movie so wants to “butch up” The Village People that the movie feels phony and misdirected.

Can’t Stop the Music was never really a movie anyway.  It was a crudely hammered together produced designed by Allan Carr in the same fashion that he brought to Grease but there’s nothing here.  So much effort went into financing and promoting and parties that he seems to have forgotten to make a movie.  He spent millions selling a movie that was hardly a movie to begin with.

About the Author:

Jerry Roberts is a film critic and operator of two websites, Armchair Cinema and Armchair Oscars.
(1980) View IMDB Filed in: Uncategorized