August 10, 2016

Xanadu

To download, right-click here and choose, "Save file as..."


(Note: This movie was not rated with our patented Clint Howard Scale because there is no conceivable universe where Clint Howard would fit into this movie. Please adjust your records accordingly.)

Remember the halcyon days of 1980? Hair bands were still a few years away, rollerskating still had meaning, photography was not as useful as a petulant artist with a paintbrush, and Greek gods held sway over the parts of California where dudes could hang out on the beach and play their clarinets with impunity. Good times, indeed.

And that's why Derek chose this week's movie, Xanadu, starring Olivia Newton-John, Gene Kelly, and, for some reason, Michael Beck. There are a bunch of other people, but they are of little to no importance, so we'll say no more about them.

Like most of these Tron rejects.
Michael Beck is Sonny, a failed "artist" who, at the beginning of the movie, has come back to work at an unnamed record company where Sonny and a group of nameless, uninteresting people spend upwards of ten minutes a day working on giant paintings of record covers that are made to be hung outside record stores because, it would seem, that photography is not really a thing yet. (Or anymore?)

On his way to work, he is molested in the park by a woman (Olivia Newton-John) on rollerskates who leaves a trail of light as she moves. It's unclear whether Sonny sees these trails, or he is so coked-up that he is used to seeing them everywhere he looks, so he does not react to them. Instead, he immediately falls in love with her and, after a brief two-minute stop at his job to piss off Simpson, gabble at his coworkers, and discover that his next assignment is an album cover on which the woman who touched his Danger Area just happens to appear.

Tell me, are you familiar with sexual harassment?
Believing this is some sort of sign, Sonny heads back out to the beach to find the woman, and instead runs across Danny (Gene Kelly), a former musician who claims to have worked with Duke Ellington and is now a developer who spends most of his time hanging out on the beach and playng his clarinet.

The two of them hit it off, and Sonny unwisely follows Danny to a second location (something even most hobos will tell you is a bad idea)--Danny's mansion--where Sonny is forced to listen to Big Band music and hear stories about "the good old days" from a crusty old man. When Sonny finally makes his excuse to escape, Danny stays and hallucinates for a while.

Dance, old man! Dance until you DIE!
After finally deciding to get some work done, Sonny heads back to work, where he is almost immediately interrupted by the girl, whose name is Kira. Kira, it appears, has no problem with a little breaking-and-entering in order to get what she wants. This suits Sonny just fine, and the two of them break into a studio at the record company, where they rollerskate around and attempt to do romantic things, although it's really just a chance to show off some of the money they got to make this movie.

Thus inspired, Sonny goes to Danny and tells him about his idea to turn an abandoned auditorium (which just happens to be on the same album cover Kira appears on) into a giant roller rink/bar/dance club/concert venue. After some encouragement from Kira, Danny agrees, and promptly throws in the money to renovate the building and promising to get the entire construction crew soused at the end of each work week.

So he can surround himself with juggling mimes.
With everyone sufficiently inspired, Kira tells Sonny she has to go because she was only sent there for that purpose. Unfortunately for her, she fell in love, and that goes against the rules of being a Muse.

That's right...Kira is a Muse.

Once Kira leaves, Sonny is so distraught he almost takes a brief moment to consider not going to the opening of the club, whose construction appears to have taken only about a week. (The timeline of this film is incredibly sketchy.) However, he puts on a brave face, quits his job at the record company (again), and goes rollerskating, where he finds a wall that has a painting of several women, including Kira, standing in front of a stylized Mount Olympus. Risking a possible closed head injury, Sonny races toward the wall, passing through it to another dimension lit by neon and Christmas lights, to confront Kira's parents, Zeus and Hera.

And he must defeat Kira in battle on the Grid!
Will Sonny convince the gods that he needs Kira by his side in order to ever be happy again? Will Danny ever recoup the money he has sunk into a club that will, within a few years, return to the deserted husk it once was? Will Kira sing and sing and sing for what seems like hours to get her point across, whatever it is? (SPOILER: That last one is a definite yes.)

Tune in to find out!

Larry hates this movie with a passion that burns like a thousand suns. It angers him that such a movie was even allowed to be made, and even more so when he realizes just how much it cost to make. His dislike for it is so much that, at one point, he would have even been willing to watch You Can't Stop The Music, starring Bruce Jenner and the Village People! He finds nothing redeeming about any of the characters or story, and he wishes harm on everyone involved. He did, however, think the soundtrack was pretty catchy, for the most part.

Derek likes the movie for its goofiness, although he does have some serious concerns over what Sonny's job is. Does photo enlargement not exist in this movie's reality? There is clearly photography; in one scene, Sonny speaks to the photographer who took the picture used on the album cover, so it has to exist. But it seems that the Greek gods have intervened and not allowed photos to be made, you know...bigger.

Jake is concerned about Danny's mental stability. Not only is the man delusional--the hallucinatory scene where he sings and dances with a ghostly Kira (or a reasonable facsimile) is solid proof that the man's grasp on reality is tenuous at best, as is his willingness to invest in an enormous and expensive venture with a failed artist who cannot maintain enough interest in his own well-being to actually do a job that will put food on his table and a roof over his head--but there is a moment at the end of the hallucination where his face goes completely dead. It's...unnerving.

So put on those rollerskates, crank up some Electric Light Orchestra, and listen to this week's episode!