Thursday, March 5, 2009

Margarita Movies: Xanadu

Perhaps the cream of the crop when it comes to "Bad Movies We Love" would be 1980's musical extravaganza, "Xanadu." Improbably starring Olivia Newton-John as a heavenly muse sent to Earth to help open a roller-derby disco, this movie has it all: atrocious acting, bad special effects, a rocking soundtrack featuring ELO, Gene Kelly (in his last screen appearance) on roller skates... Hell, it even has an animated sequence for no reason! And if that doesn't tempt you, ask yourself this: where else are you going to see a bird in leg warmers? Uh huh, I thought so!

The "story" centers around frustrated painter Sonny Malone, laughably portrayed by Michael Beck. You may remember him from his future appearances on "Murder She Wrote," "Diagnosis Murder" and "Walker, Texas Ranger"... no? ... oh, OK. Anyhow, his job re-painting album covers in large format doesn't "inspire" him anymore. Enter Olivia - because what better use of a daughter of Zeus than to inspire a frustrated painter to open a roller disco palace? Makes sense to me! Unfortunately, poor Sonny doesn't have any money, either. Enter Gene. Poor Gene is a washed up, but still wealthy, jazz musician whom Olivia had helped "inspire" 40 years earlier. He's lost his vision since Olivia left him, so what better way to get it back than enter into a shady deal renovating an abandoned warehouse with a shiftless artist who you met hours earlier on the beach? Makes perfect sense to me!

The film just continues to spiral into a cocaine fueled train wreck from there. Despite past encounters with Da Vinci and Michelangelo, Olivia's muse somehow falls in love with the vest-wearing Mr. Malone, and he must take on Zeus himself to win her. Wacky shenanigans, bad montages of trying on outfits (a staple of any 80s film), and much, much rollerskating follows. Needless to say, all ends well for love. Wish we could say the same for the viewer. So next time you're in the modd to get really drunk, watch a screen icon shed all his dignity and credibility for one last paycheck, and get impossibly catchy, late-era disco songs stuck in your head for weeks, this little beauty will be there.
They call it Xanadu.

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