- Movie Rating -

Xanadu (1980)

| August 8, 1980

Xanadu is kind of interesting.  Not good, but interesting.  It is a production with a lot of great music – most of it from angelic hit-maker Olivia-Newton John, but it has its catchy tunes grafted onto a story that is lame, unwieldy and at times laughable.

No, wait.  I would even say ‘at times’, it is so constantly and consistently laughable that its almost embarrassing.  It’s the kind of thing where you are simply baffled that a room full of professional filmmakers convinced each other that this was a good idea.  Outside of the soundtrack, I’m trying to think of anything else that might be positive to note.  Let’s see.  Oh yeah . . . it’s better than Can’t Stop the Music.

The story – oy! – deals with Sonny Malone (Michael Beck), an L.A. commercial artist who paints art deco album covers the size of billboards.  In his down-time, Sonny roller skates everywhere and one day he gets in inspiration when he sees an angel on skates named Kira (ONJ, herself) and in an instant she becomes his muse.  That’s largely because, well, she is a muse, right out Greek mythology.  Over a short time, Kira not only inspires Sonny but also Danny (Gene Kelly) to go in together to open – I love this – a roller disco palace nightclub that features a fusion of music from the 40s and the 80s.  WOW!  Just try to explain that to the bank.

The production quality is here but it is all frosting an no cake.  There’s no subtlety, no undercurrent.  There’s nothing really to talk about when its over besides the production design and the music which is not entirely praiseworthy since it moves back and forth between cinematic styles almost at random, such as an animated sequence (provided by Don Bluth), a roller boogie disco sequence that goes on forever, and a weird battle of the bands between a 40s swing band and an 80s rock bank with the dancers converging into a mish-mash of convoluted traffic control.

This movie could have used a traffic cop.  My mind boggles at the ideas that are so displaced.  Everything went into this movie and so little of it connects together.  Maybe the best idea would have been to take out the story and just use a bare framework of characters, as in a music video where the characters are given the barest excuse to get the music in motion.  It needed work, lots of work.  There’s something here, but it lays in front of you still in pieces.

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