Over the weekend, TM and I catered to one of his whims and watched Xanadu on Watch Instantly. Neither of us had ever seen it before. I was skeptical.
Holy cow, that's some crazy business. The '70s and '80s collide in a horrifying rollerskating pile-up. Why was everyone on rollerskates? Why did Gene Kelly stoop so low?
Sometimes the movie seemed like little more than a flimsy showcase for bad fashion. I mean, you've got legwarmers, short shorts, orange jumpsuits (my favorite line: when Sonny Malone has a vision of a club with a "great rock band" which he describes as, "Six guys in electric orange suits!"), extraneous straps and zippers, off-the-shoulder peasant blouses--a panoply of ugly clothing, none of which seemed to have anything to do with any of the other ugly clothing. And, oh yes, rollerskates.
The plot, which lacked all narrative tension, goes something like this:
Sonny Malone is a whiny would-be artist. He's a commercial artist who believes that he is meant for Higher Things, but the Man (= his boss) tries to dissuade him by saying, literally: "I used to be into Art. But I gave up Art for Money. You should do the same thing." It's subtle!
Anyway, Sonny mopes, and somehow his moping causes a really bad painting of eight or so women to become animated, and the muses descend upon LA. Apparently, see, Zeus really wants a roller rink called Xanadu to be built, so he sends the muse Kira (the muse of disco?) to inspire him. He sees her and becomes obsessed, but his pursuit only lasts about three minutes, because then she turns up and they start hanging out. Meanwhile he meets Gene Kelly, who used to play the clarinet but doesn't any more. For some reason, they decide to open a disco/nightclub/roller rink (because, the movie tells us, They Need A Dream To Care About. Why be more specific than that?). Everything goes exactly according to plan!
However, Sonny then tells Kira that he loves her. For some reason. I mean, he knows seriously nothing about her--like, she won't even tell him her last name. But whatever. She says that she loves him, then immediately reveals that she's a muse and disappears. Sonny mopes some more--he almost refuses to go to Xanadu's opening!--but then, for some reason, he jumps headlong into the aforementioned bad painting and finds himself in a crazy electric Tron-like space. There, he rails ineffectually against Zeus and is then dumped back on earth. Kira sings an incredibly boring song, and Zeus and Hera decide that she can go back to earth.
The club opens. There is a bizarre and spectacular club-opening dance sequence. Kira serves Sonny a drink. All is well.
So the movie would, in fact, be pretty dull, but for all the fashion hilarity (which is totally worth it). It does, however, have this fucking insane sequence.
Watch it! Gene Kelly dancing with punk rock oompah loompahs, and Spiderman! Take a break from grading and watch it!
(In other news, I'm almost done with EVERYTHING. More bad movies in store, perhaps?)