From The Grindhouse Cinema Database

< Xanadu

Recently, Musicals have become a genre that everyone is talking about again thanks to the new hit film La La Land. It's not only a potential nominee for almost every major movie award out there, it's also one of the most popular films in recent memory. Everyday you see at last one Facebook post that either praises the film or includes a heart-touching quote from it. As you might guess, I haven't seen this movie yet. Mostly because I'm not really into Musical movies (the ones I like so far is the original Wizard of Oz and The Apple, which I already reviewed on GCDb) and I think it's too over-exposed. Suddenly, I can understand the feelings that those who saw the overhype of Armageddon back when I was a little kid. You couldn't escape the TV commercials, the poster, or even that popular Aerosmith song. They were EVERYWHERE. So I decided to do something completely different here. Instead of talking about a Musical that's considered the best, I'm going to review the one that's regarded as one of the worst movies of all time. Yep, I'm going to talk about Xanadu. Does the film deserves the reputation it has? Let's find out!


Considered by critics and movie-goers as just a starring vehicle for Olivia Newton-John, the film is a combination of Fantasy and a good-old-fashion kind of Musical. The story follows Sonny (The Warriors' Michael Beck), an ambitious painter who believes he deserves something more than a job at a record company, and his crush with Kira (Olivia Newton-John), a daughter of Zeus and Hera who rollerskates across the town. Meanwhile, Sonny meets an ex-big band musician named Danny (played by Gene Kelly) who wants to reopen a nightclub since he misses the times when he was a musician. Then, these three characters meet each other and fulfill their dreams by turning an old auditorium into a rollerskating paradise. Things can't go any better...until Kira has to leave Sonny since she has violated the rule of falling in love with someone from Earth. Of course, it has a happy ending as always. So, Ladies and gentlemen, this is the whole plot of the movie. I mean, I know that it's a Musical so it's supposed to be about the singing and dancing not the intense storyline, but even the plot itself isn't strong enough to convince me at all.


Let's take a look at each character. Our hero, Sonny, falls somewhere between an aspiring artist and a douchebag. In the beginning, he decides to return to his old job because he needs money. But look at his car! It's a four-door car from the 30's or 40's. I'm not sure whether he's that poor because his job as afreelance artist doesn't pay or the fact that he wants to repair this classic car (which could be expensive even in 1980). Anyway, his behavior gets worse and worse after he meets Kira. He decides to skip his daytime job just to skate around town and ask nearby pedestrians about the blond haired chick that just kisses him. Even his boss and co-workers are annoyed by this behavior! At this point, the audience realizes that Olivia's character is sent to Earth to inspire dreamers out there, but she spends most of her time fooling around with Sonny (sometimes it makes him looks like an idiot) and then just leaves him. And it happens again and again. At this point, I'm not sure which character is more annoying. With these annoying elements and Michael Beck's awful acting I expected this to be awful movie....but I realized I was wrong when ONJ's Magical kicks in.


The soundtrack plays a huge role not only in the musical sequences, but in saving me from getting mad from such unlikely characters. I'm surprised that there are such good songs here, such as "Magic", "Suddenly", and "You Made Me Love You". They fit into the scenes perfectly and, combined with nice cinematography and choreography, they are astonishingly gorgeous. Speaking of the musical scenes, there are two sequences that people remember most. The first one is when Sonny and Kira rollerskate in what's supposed to be recording studio, but it looks more like a series of sets from 50's musical movies. All of this happens while ONJ and Cliff Richard's Suddenly plays in the background. It's a really memorable scene and probably my favorite scene from Xanadu. Another scene that people remember is when Sonny and Danny argue about whether they should turn the old auditorium into a 50's big band concert hall or an 80's rock arena. Then, all of sudden, we see this over-the-top performance of the band of dancers set to old time music vs. glamourous choreographers and bad (I mean, BAD) Rock music playing against each other...until they play along together. That scene alone sums up the goofiness of Xanadu quite well.

To sum up, Xanadu is really only worth watching for the fun musical scenes, but other than that you should hit the fast-forward button. So, it's not the worst film of all time, but I'm not sure whether I should've spent my time watching La La Land instead of this.

Nuttawut Permpithak is a Thai student who's spending his final year in university studying marketing. In his free time he watches exploitation films...or any films from the past, writing articles, taking photos and reviewing films for the GCDb.