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CAN’T STOP THE MUSIC

     

For Hicksflicks.com, Friday, June 28, 2019

EDITOR’S NOTE: Hey, a movie starring the Village People and Bruce Jenner can’t be all bad, can it? (Insert your own joke here, folks.) One of 1980’s worst pictures is this song-and-skate extravaganza that was made when Hollywood went through a long period of forgetting how to film musicals. Blame disco, if you like. Anyhow, someone must like it since the Shout! Factory is releasing a new Blu-ray upgrade. My review was published on June 27, 1980, in the Deseret News.

“Can’t Stop the Music” is being advertised as “The Movie Musical Event of the ‘80s.”

If that’s true, the ‘80s are in big trouble.

The advertising is premature, the movie is immature and most of the acting is Victor Mature.

“Can’t Stop the Music” is a film for fans of the Village People — all others beware. The show numbers are pure razzle-dazzle (the screen literally rains glitter) and the elaborately staged songs should please the groupies in the audience. But the thin plot used to fill in the gaping holes between numbers is fragile and desperately needs some humor to bolster it. And it reaches for that humor but gets hypertension instead.

     

The Village People, behind Steve Guttenberg, Valerie Perrine and Bruce Jenner, star in 'Can't Stop the Music.'

Nancy Walker, in her directing debut, has her players interacting at such an intense, high-pitched level that they all look like “before” models in an Alka-Seltzer commercial.

This is, at best, a curious work to mark Walker’s entrance into a new area (following years of performing as TV’s supreme Jewish Mother on “The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” “Rhoda” and Bounty commercials) but it looks as if they spent so much money on the stage numbers there wasn’t any left for Walker to film more than one take per scene.

Consequently we have the stereotype of New York as a pressure cooker coming out through pressure-cooked New Yorkers.

The story is a fictionalization of how the Village People got together, via Valerie Perrine’s asking them to come to a backyard party to perform a friend’s songs (sounds like Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland’s early MGM efforts, right?).

     

There are other cinematic thefts as well — Perrine revealing more than her ankle to get a car to stop for her (From Capra’s “It Happened One Night”), Steven Guttenberg skating down a street to the beat of the opening song (a perversion of John Travolta’s entrance in “Saturday Night Fever”) and so it goes.

Granted, with a script like this there’s not much a director can do to save it, but loud does not equal funny, and a few newer jokes spoken softly might have worked better. Bruce Jenner being mugged by a little old lady and Tammy Grimes getting her finger stuck in the dial of a pay phone just don’t work.

Paul Sand, as a harried record executive, is the only performer to get any real laughs and Jenner (in his film debut) looks like he might have done better if he had rehearsed. As it is he’s up for the Farrah Fawcett scholarship to the Cybill Shepherd School of Acting.

There are a few bright moments (Village biker Glenn Hughes breaking into “Danny Boy”) but if they couldn’t have stopped the music — they could at least have stopped the segues. Whatever the ‘80s offers next has to be better than this.

“Can’t Stop the Music” is rated PG for profanity, sex, nudity.