Miss Olivia Newton-John plays the ancient Greek muse, Terpsichore, reincarnated as a white-gowned Australian roller skater living near the beach in Southern California. Gene Kelly appears as an aging big-band clarinetist who had once been inspired by the muse, and so, for old times’ sake, now learns roller skating and constructs the world’s gaudiest roller-disco palace as a monument to his former love (and current bad taste). Along the way we encounter animated cartoon sequences, prepubescent rock ‘n’ roll fantasies, and nostalgic, thoroughly embarrassing tributes to dancer Kelly’s own past triumphs — including an excruciating rendition of “Singin’ in the Rain” on skates. All the overblown musical numbers seem to go on forever and succeed in making the comparable moments in Can’t Stop the Music (the 1970s Village People classic) look like models of mature and well-balanced restraint. This $20 million modern-day Xanadu, in short, is no stately pleasure dome, and in view of its relentless stupidity, it deserved an even more hostile response from the public than the one it actually received. In the final tally, it grossed $11 million, while grossing out nearly every moviegoer who ventured anywhere near it.
The press book exulted: “Olivia Newton-John, in her role as a goddess, is totally hot! Dressed in black leather boots and a tiger skin vest, she sizzles, steams, and sets the screen ablaze!” The producers, meanwhile, set nearly $10 million ablaze—turned to ash by the well-deserved failure of this insufferable movie.
© 1984 Harry and Michael Medved. All rights reserved. For more recent movie reviews, check out the official website: MichaelMedved.com