Xanadu: Directed by Robert Greenwald. With Olivia Newton-John, Gene Kelly, Michael Beck, James Sloyan. A struggling artist living in Los Angeles meets a girl who may hold the key to his happiness.
opening universal logo thing had an airplane, another airplane, a ufo
Opens with an artist doing art while the beginning credits happen, he rips up his art and throws it out his window, and it hits a wall, bringing wall art to life, it’s our first song! I’m alife! ONJ is there to dance for us! Then they turn into color beams that fly around Hollywood, one of them turns back to a human, (it’s ONJ) and she’s roller skating, runs into a guy (it’s the artist!, then kisses him. he stares at her in erotic shock, then she leaves him.
Turns out the artist is a down on his luck artist who quit his job to do his art as a professional artist, but his art isn’t popular enough, so he’s back to working for The Man. He is not happy about this fact. But then he’s given a job to enlarge an album cover and wouldn’t you know it, it’s the girl! Turns out that no one knows who she is and he’s on the hunt to find her. The album producer has no clue, the photographer has no clue, so now he’s just wandering the streets asking random people who she is.
As he’s wandering, he runs into an old buddy playing the clarinet on the beach, it’s Gene Kelly! There’s several more transitional scenes, and we get back to the buddy’s house, which is a damn mansion, where the artist and his buddy listen to a single track on a record, then the artist out, and the buddy is listening to the next track, where he dreams he’s dancing with ONJ.
Turns out that buddy’s looking for a new venue for a club, and the artist mentions it to his muse, who suggests they use the warehouse / auditorium that she lives in. The artist and buddy go check it out and start having some dreams about what they’re going to do with the property which involve another musical bit with a “rock band” and a 50’s style band, all with an appropriate amount of body jiggling and bondage. When the dream sequence ends, buddy declares that he’s going to do it, and with ONJ’s help, they name it “Xanadu”. Buddy then tells the artist that he’s going to be his partner!
They’re planning what to do in the building, and the artist and his lady friend leave for the night, he confesses his love for her and she says “yeah, I love you too, which is super weird, that’s not supposed to happen, because I’m a Muse”. I called her that earlier just because it seemed a witty thing to say, but here we are, with her actually being a muse, like a real fantasy creature that’s only on the Earth to inspire men to do great things. All that being said, she’s done her job and Xanadu is being built, so she’s on her way back to her side of the universe, sorry guy! He, of course, doesn’t take this lying down, and with some motivational efforts from his buddy, the artist runs head first into a wall, transporting himself to where ever it is that the Muse lives, convinces her father to let her come back, and she’s there for the opening night of Xanadu!
We then get at least seven different songs, depending on how you split them, all with roller skating and dancing, and some absolutely trippy choreography. This obviously includes a wardrobe change for ONJ in every change!
Now the important question: why do I now own this movie? Why did I buy this? It was literally on a whim, as I dislike purchases odd number of movies when I get them through Vudu, so this got me to $10 even, just because the cover art looked interesting and when I checked on the synopsis it sounded crazy, then I watched the trailer and I noticed that Gene Kelly of all people was in a roller skating musical with Oliva Newton John. Insanity.
My opinion of the film? It’s an insane movie with a bonkers concept that I absolutely love. Everything about this film does it for me, from the acting to the story to the music to the dancing. According to wikipedia, this was Gene Kelly’s last film role, and it absolutely flopped at the theater. The soundtrack did pretty well though with at least 5 of the tracks getting popular attention. Reportedly this film was one of the inspirations for the Razzies, if you could believe that.
If they ever do a 4k/hdr transfer, this is going to go in my physical collection and I’m going to keep an eye open for the vinyl of the soundtrack.