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Can’t Stop the Music (1980) – DVD Review

Can't Stop the Music DVD cover art


Written by Allan Carr and Bronte Woodard
Directed by Nancy Walker
Starring Valerie Perrine, Steve Guttenberg, Bruce Jenner, and the Village People


  • Photo gallery
  • The Village People Story
  • Theatrical Trailer

Released by: Anchor Bay.
Rating: PG
Region: 1
Anamorphic: Yes.

My Advice: Rent Xanadu or Chicago instead.

Jack Morell (Guttenberg) is a highly excitable composer and wants to write music for the world to boogie to. Unfortunately he has a singing voice that makes horny cats jealous. Fortunately, he is sharing a house with ex-model and free spirit Samantha Simpson (Perrine). Unfortunately…she can’t sing worth a lick either. Fortunately and by an amazing coincidence, she knows several macho men who love to sing and dance and they hook up to perform Jack’s songs. Unfortunately for everyone involved, the music industry is very hard to break into. Fortunately…she knows a music producer who still has the hots for her. Unfortunately he thinks the group, now known as The Village People, is too “out there.” Fortunately, while all this drama is going on, Samantha finds herself with Ron White (Jenner), a handsome tax attorney. Unfortunately, his square ways are dying hard and this is crimping Samantha’s style. Fortunately, his mother is hosting a fabulous event in San Francisco that The Village People can perform at and blow the world away. Unfortunately…(last one, I promise) they made a terrible movie about all this called Can’t Stop the Music.

[ad#longpost]Why was this movie made? No, that’s not entirely rhetorical. I know The Village People had a good gimmick, had several catchy songs to their name, and were part of the pop culture landscape. Admit it: at one time or another you did the YMCA dance. You know you did, don’t lie. But was a movie loosely based on their creation really necessary? Especially a movie as bad as this? The Village People were somehow convinced that being musicians, they could automatically act as well. While a few singers have succeeded at this, these are the exception not the rule. Unfortunately (crap, I lied–not the last one), there are no exceptions when it comes to bad acting in this movie.

Valerie Perrine gives it a good shot, but her role was clearly intended to lure in straight audiences. And Bruce Jenner as an actor makes a good athlete. And what can be said about Steve Guttenberg’s improbable career that hasn’t already been said? Still, his choice to play a songwriter as an overly happy and excited man-child is just wrong. The decision to employ Nancy Walker, mostly known for her television and commercial acting, as a director is probably the final nail in this coffin. For example, during the “Milk Shake” number, we are constantly jumping from one set of dancers to another. They dance a couple of quick steps, then cut to another group. The whole point of a dance number is to see dancing, but we’re never given enough time to see anything. All the musical numbers are bad knock-offs from Busby Berkeley movies. She doesn’t even try to make the many product placements subtle. With inexperienced actors, inexperienced screenwriters, and an inexperienced director, you have a recipe for cinematic disaster.

Along with the standard movie trailer, the disc has a still gallery. However it shows only a few shots from the film itself. Instead we get publicity shots (some of them somewhat racy), trading cards, album covers, and performances. They even show several pages from the movie’s photonovel. I was surprised at this completeness in what is usually a slapped together feature. The other featurette details the history of The Village People and the movie itself. This was actually informative and interesting to read. And it is honest with itself, especially concerning the film.

Pic from Can't Stop the Music

It seems that Nancy Walker was made director because screenwriter and producer Allen Carr of Grease fame was her personal manager. And Bruce Jenner learned his acting technique from watching Burt Reynolds movies. With all this and the fact that the movie was “straightened up” for the mainstream audience, it’s no wonder that it was a twenty million dollar bomb (big money back then). This movie inspired the creation of the Razzie Awards that spotlights the worst achievements in film. It actually “won” for Worst Film in 1980. So unless you have a serious…and I mean serious…bad movie jones, don’t stop when you pass by Can’t Stop the Music.

Pic from Can't Stop the Music

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