Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Movie Review: "Xanadu" (1980)

Director: Robert Greenwald
Year: 1980
Rating: PG
Running Time: 1 hour, 36 minutes

A muse inspires a young artist and an old musician to turn a run-down sports arena into a disco roller club. (at least that's what we think the synopsis of this movie is, we can't really be sure..)

We are utterly baffled at how someone made "Xanadu." Not only did someone make this movie, but they watched it back and said, "yes, I made good choices, I can live with this as my masterpiece's final product." "Xanadu" is directed by Robert Greenwald, who is known for making mostly made-for-TV movies and the occasional poorly reviewed theatrical feature film. It is written by Richard Christian Danus and Marc Reid Rubel, and honestly, we were a little shocked to see that this movie was written by anybody because it feels like it has no script at all. It stars Olivia Newton-John as Kira, a muse of Greek mythology. She is awoken from her painting to inspire a young artist named Sonny Malone (Michael Beck) and a very wealthy retired musician named Danny McGuire (Gene Kelly in his final film role) to open a roller disco...or at least that's what we think this movie is about, we're not entirely sure. Kira also falls in love with Sonny and vice versa, but muses aren't allowed to have such relationships (so says Zeus).

We decided to watch a bunch of old musicals for the month of March and someone suggested that we watch "Xanadu." We're not naming names or pointing fingers, but honestly, we feel a little duped because this is not only an awful movie but an awful musical as well. It barely qualifies as a musical in our book. Most the songs play like they are simply part of a soundtrack that continuously runs over the film while characters dance around...actually, they mostly roller skate around instead of singing the songs themselves like they would in a proper musical. Sure, there are a couple of occasions where characters actually sing, but these instances are few and far between and rarely flow into the narrative. Hell, "Three Amigos!" has more musical performances sung by characters on screen! This movie seems more like a collection of poorly produced promotional music videos for the band ELO and actress Olivia Newton-John than an actual movie. As for the acting, Michael Beck gives one of the most wooden, unnatural performances we have ever seen. It's staggering that Beck went from a  breakout role in "The Warriors" to giving a career-ending level performance in "Xanadu" in just one year's time. Olivia Newton-John pretty much just rolls around on skates smiling and doesn't do much else. She, like Beck, followed her breakthrough role in "Grease" with this misery of a film.

In some aspects, we can see something like "Xanadu" gaining cult status in a "so bad, it's fun" way, similar to movies like "Troll 2," "Sharknado," or "The Room." Staggeringly, all three of these examples are a lot more fun, are better written, and have more coherent narratives than "Xanadu" does. If this counts as a musical, then "Guardians of the Galaxy" and "Baby Driver" would easily fit into this category. What starts out as a dopey-but-promising early 80's extravaganza quickly devolves into an incoherent mess of roller skating and disco music. YIKES.

My Rating: 2/10
BigJ's Rating: 2/10
IMDB's Rating: 5.1/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 38%
Do we recommend this movie: AVOID LIKE THE PLAGUE!!!

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