Wednesday, December 11, 2013


During yesterday’s winter storm, I went in to work early and left work right on time so as to avoid any icy roads and in doing so got home early enough to not only catch up on the last three episodes I was behind on in Once Upon A Time, but also enjoy the cheesetastic spectacular which is Xanadu; the 1980s film musical starring the beautiful Olivia Newton-John, the talented Gene Kelly and Michael Beck. Oh, I just love this movie. It is beyond cheesy, hokey and downright bad, but that's what makes it so great! If you accept and revel in its theatrical mediocrity; from the atrocious acting, paper thin plot, and horrendous choreography (on roller skates no less), you’ll have a blast because the rest, namely the music, is great; with tons of fun still to be had rolling your eyes at the film’s attempts at witty repartee, while singing along with ELOs great soundtrack.

Xanadu tells the tale of Sonny Malone (Beck), a talented yet struggling artist who left his paying position painting enlarged album covers for store windows to try and make it in the art world, only to have to come back with his tail between his legs, hat in hand to ask for his old job back. Demoralized by his predicament, Sonny is headed back into the office when a beautiful stranger, whom we later learn is named Kira (Newton-John), roller skates up to him, plants a kiss on his lips and skates away. Sonny is even more intrigued by his mystery woman when she appears on the new album cover he’s been assigned to paint. Having just been re-hired but no less determined to find his dream girl, Sonny drops everything at work and takes off to find her (I really don’t know how he remained employed because he does this at various times throughout the film). He heads to the beach where he first spotted her and comes across Danny McGuire (Kelly), a former Big Band musician who is now filthy rich and looking to open up a nightclub like the one he had in his heyday.

After leaving Danny, some slapstick humor ensues featuring a bike ride off a pier but Sonny finally tracks Kira down at a rundown abandoned building where she’s roller skating. In between wooing Kira and befriending Danny, Sonny does manage to find his way into the office for like 5 minutes, only to run off again for an impromptu dance number on a special-effects laden soundstage. Ultimately, with some none too subtle pushing from Kira, Sonny and Danny become partners in building Xanadu, the hottest new nightclub in town, and guess what, you’ll never see this coming, but they decide to build it in the building which appeared in the album cover Sonny was painting and where Kira was skating. The two lovebirds are unfortunately due for some rocky seas ahead though when Kira confesses to Sonny that she is actually a muse (she’s the Muse of Dance) sent to earth to bring about Xanadu, and sadly she committed a big muse no-no by falling in love, and now her father Zeus wants her back home and pronto. Sonny is heartbroken about losing his girl but hey, she’s a muse, so he’s ready to move on, but oh so wise Danny steps in and slaps some sense into him, telling him if she’s his dream girl then he can’t just give up; he’s got to fight for her love no matter what, and so the search is on.

Hmmm…you’re intrigued aren’t you? I know you’re just dying to know now if true love wins the day or not. Alas, you’ll have to hit Red Box or OnDemand to find out. Seriously, like I said above, this is really a fun movie if a bit (alright, maybe more than a bit) silly, but by the end I think you’ll love its camp as much as I do. The choreography is one scene short of atrocious, redeemed only by a wonderful “dream” sequence song and dance number between Kelly and Newton-John. Beck was by far the weakest in the cast as far as acting, though he was probably hired more as eye candy than for his thespian talents.

Onto the good stuff, the music; every song in the film is pure magic. My favorites are ELO’s featured songs, including “I’m Alive”, “Don’t Walk Away” which plays during an adorable animated sequence ala the film Enchanted, and “All Over the World;” though I’ll also throw some love to Olivia’s titular song “Xanadu.”

While some may say Xana-don’t to this cult classic, I say Xana-do rent Xanadu for a couple hours of campy fun that will take you on a musical trip down memory lane and leave you humming for hours.