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DVD Review: Can't Stop The Music (1980)

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I've viewed some weird Euro horrors, mad Asian flicks and creepy Brit cult classics in my time, but I have to say that America has come up trumps with something that just might out-bizarre them all - Can't Stop The Music.

Name ring a bell? Yes, it's a Village People tune and this is the fictionalised account of how said group came into being. Of course, it's all a load of nonsense with absolutely no basis of fact, but who cares? This a film, not Wikipedia.

Anyway, here's the story. New York City DJ/songwriter Jack Morell (Steve Guttenberg) needs just a big break to get his music heard and land a record deal. Thing is, he's a rubbish singer, but a great songwriter. So what does he do? Well, with the help of his retired supermodel roommate (Valerie Perrine) and an uptight tax attorney who happens to stumble into the apartment (Bruce Jenner), they go about finding a group of men who can sing.

Coincidentally, they have a man dressed as a native Indian next door who can do just that, not to mention a cowboy at the local nightclub and a man who dresses as a construction worker, who happens to be a friend of a friend. After an audition, they also pick up (so to speak) a leather-clad biker, with another friend pointing the band in the direction of a passing policeman and soldier, both of whom can hold a tune and dance too. Just the name needed. They live in 'the village' and they are 'people'. What do you know? A band is born!

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Of course, that's just half the story - with a mix of charm, comedy and various quirky characters (overbearing mother, sex-mad friend, eccentric old boss etc etc), they work on getting the band a deal, specifically with Marrakesh Records, the biggest of them all (and nothing to do with Casablanca Records obviously. Oh no). Do they succeed? Well, I'm guessing you might have worked that out already.

Camp? It's off the scale. Although the people behind it seemed very careful to not label anyone or anything gay (maybe mainstream 80s cinema go-ers weren't ready for that), the message is pretty much loud and clear on the screen. Especially when the band head to the - you guessed it - Y.M.C.A for a practice session amongst a large bunch of scantily-clad males. Citizen Kane this is not and you can see why this got a battering by the critics 'back in the day'.

But time has been just a little kind to Can't Stop The Music since. Yes, the music is dreadful (unless you're a fan - and if you are, go buy it!), the acting shaky, the plot ridiculously simplistic and there are stereotypes in abundance. I ask you, did everyone in New York really rollerskate everywhere? I'd love to think so, but I'm guessing not. I don't remember Kojak doing it for a start.

Yet Can't Stop The Music does kinda capture an era long gone, a band at their peak of popularity and in a very silly way, does manage to entertain for the best part of two hours.

If Jean-Luc Godard floats your boat, this is unlikely to be on your radar. But if you want something trashy to watch after a few drinks on a Saturday night, you might want to hire this. You'll probably enjoy it, but not in the way the makers intended.

Find out more about the DVD at Amazon.co.uk

Comments

Howard Berry

And don't forget who directed it - none other than Ida Morgenstern, mother to "Rhoda", Nancy Walker!

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