July 2, 2017 at 7:54 pm (6 Heads, Xanadu) (, , , , , , , , )

Xanadu – 1980 – United States

Sonny is a painter who paints enlarged copies of album covers to be used as advertisements. He’s too talented for his job and lets everyone know by complaining constantly. One day, he meets Kira—a mythological Greek muse who has been sent from Olympus to help him escape his rut. It turns out that Sonny and Kira both love rollerskating. Romance blooms. Meanwhile, Sonny befriends a rich jazz clarinetist named Danny who dreams of opening a nightclub. Sonny and Danny, inspired by Kira, open a roller disco nightclub called Xanadu. Everything works out.

Xanadu blends music, fantasy, romance, 1980s new wave aesthetics, and roller disco. Unsurprisingly, it is reviled by most people. The main character is uncool. His romantic interest is vapid. The plot is corny and nostalgic. And for a film with such a weird premise, Xanadu somehow manages to seem unoriginal.

Thankfully, Xanadu’s many excesses keep it from being boring. Throughout the film, glowing rainbow special effects are constant. Kira and the other muses ride beams of prismatic light and vanish into bursts of sparkles. A scene on Mount Olympus looks like something from Tron (1982). The film’s soundtrack by Electric Light Orchestra is good, and the musical numbers are delightfully strange. Sonny and Danny dispute whether Xanadu should have a 1940s or 1980s motif. The musical numbers contain themes from both eras. One sequence takes place on a giant pinball table, and another sequence is entirely animated in a Disney-esque style.

Xanadu’s finale is its most remarkable part. On the club’s opening night, rollerskaters, juggling mimes, tightrope walkers, aerialists, and tap dancers all join in a musical extravaganza to Xanadu’s epic theme song. Some country music is thrown in for good measure.

Xanadu stars Michael Beck (fresh from The Warriors, 1979), Olivia Newton John (fresh from Grease, 1978), and Gene Kelly (not-so-fresh from a bunch of 1940s musicals).

Rating: 6/10 Shrunken Heads. At one point, Xanadu’s protagonist goes skitching.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: