Cast: Ryan Phillippe, Salma Hayek, Mike Myers,   

Director: Mark Christopher

Previews: Ronin, Rounders, A Civil Action

The late 70's and early 80s was a period of decadence.   Also, the end of innocence as we now know it.  It was our last dance, our chance to be wild, crazy, uninhibited, before the specter of AIDS unknowingly came down upon us.  I was a child of this decade, I lived through the hostage crisis, fuel shortages, and yes...even disco.  Recently, Hollywood has grasped to relive this era, via the movies.  Films like Boogie Nights, The Wedding Singer and The Last Days of Disco have tried to recreate the attitude and essence, of a time that some don't want to remember.  Some people are not proud of their actions then, responding to questions with the response of..."Yeah, I lived through it" and nothing more. In the annals of these dark decadent days, lies the legend of Studio 54.  Steve Rubell's non-stop party, the place where the rich, and average, stripped away their social titles, and just had fun, ignorant of the consequences.

This was a legend that was ripe for a good retelling, it had sex, scandal, reckless abandon, stars, drugs, and a complete and total lack of basic morality.  Why then, is this telling of the story so boring.  You would think that a movie about the one place on earth where nothing was taboo,   and the people who inhabited it, would be a story of never-ending energy.  But alas, this movie falls flat, very flat.  The reason..the characters, and the script.  I didn't care what happened to the characters, because I didn't care about them.  The director tried to cram so many stories down your throat, that he never bothered to develop any of them, so that we could care.

Also, the music, the one thing that most people of that era remember, is the music.  The lemming-like infectiousness of such songs as YMCA, Hot Stuff, and Don't Leave Me This Way, made disco memorable, if not despised, by most back then.  But 54 fails miserably to cash in on the current retro trend.  The Wedding Singer, Grosse Pointe Blank, and Romy and Michelle's HS Reunion succeeded in this facet.

It is hard to judge the performances, because the script is do devoid of any cohesiveness.  Ryan Phillippe, (I Know What You Did Last Summer's pretty blond stud-o-the-moment) has nowhere near the acting ability to carry this film (He should contact Mark Wahlberg, for "80s Movie-Acting Lessons 101"), my son, are definitely no John Travolta. He seems more concerned with flexing his ab's, and grooming his blond locks, then actually acting. Salma Hayek is radiant, and oozes sexuality, but she, along with husband Breckin Meyer are given too many stories, and not enough smart dialog to make us care. The biggest waste in this movie is Neve Campbell, not because of her performance, as much as her purpose in the movie.   She has about 15 minutes of screen time, and seems to serve only two purposes really.  One, to draw hormonal teens, Scream fans, and Party-of-Fivers in, and Two, to be the obligatory love interest.  Short of those, I fail to see the relevance of he character here at all.  Also, an underplayed, undeveloped appearance, by the very talented Heather Matarazzo (Welcome To The Dollhouse), who steals every scene with Phillippe, and maybe, if more of the focus was here, we would've cared more.

The true star, and shining moment of this movie, is Myers. He played his part perfect, made you forget you were watching Wayne, or Austin Powers.  It made me wish he was given a better script or story to flex his dramatic muscle with.  His portrayal of Rubell, in his pallid, sickly, yet relaxed exuberance, was very well done, and for those who knew, or met Rubell, may bring back some haunting images. His presence onscreen, is the only time the movie is even mildly interesting.

Boogie Nights set the standard for movies aiming to show the decadence of this era, and succeeded because it never tried to be too much, and made us care, and empathize with each character.  That is this movie's greatest failure.   A pointed analogy occurs near the climax of this movie, which was a bit cheesy, but did make it's point.  Indeed, the party is truly over, wait for cable, and hustle, bump and busstop, in the privacy of your own home.($1/2 of $$$$)

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