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USA 1980
Directed by
Nancy Walker
118 minutes
Rated PG

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
0.5 stars

Can't Stop The Music

Can’t Stop The Music?  If only you could. Opening with one of the lamest songs you are ever likely to hear over the worst credits that you are ever likely to see, producer Allan Carr’s too late attempt to cash in on the disco craze is a jaw-droppingly awful concatenation of abysmal acting, out-to-lunch directing and cringe-worthy fashion all tossed together in a narrative peppered with worst songs this side of Ishtar.  To call this a musical is an insult to the genre. In fact it is barely describable as a film.

Steve Guttenberg plays Jack Morell, an aspiring composer (the god-awful music is credited to Jacques Morali) who works in a record store and rooms in the pad of his friend, former model Samantha (Valerie Perrine) in New York’s Greenwich Village. He needs someone to sing on his demo tape and before long he’s put together The Village People and he’s a show-biz sensation. That, stretched out for nearly two hours is the storyline.

Everything about this movie is wrong. It was the only movie directed by Walker who was 58 years old at the time and whose apparent qualification was that she had acted on TV.  Go figure!. From the mess on screen it seems that she had barely been on a film set. One could disparage the writing, the editing and so on but what would be the point? And why for some reason the dialogue is not only entirely lip-synched but done so out-of whack is anyone’s guess.

Can’t Stop The Music has a few sizeable production numbers with “Y.M.C.A”. a marvel of gay clichés but going on for so long that they have to recycle some of the footage; a lavishly costume rendition of “Milkshake”, a song whose lyric banality even outdoes that of the film’s script; an odd number seemingly inspired by Elvis’s “Jailhouse Rock” in which the Construction Worker sings a song called "I Love You To Death" as vampish women in red sequined dresses writhe around him and, of course, there is the glittering title song grand finale. And a one point three black women perform a song called "Give Me A Break", which could well have been the film's sub-title.

Bad, but not in a good way, it is hard to imagine anyone sitting through Can’t Stop The Music voluntarily. Few people did in its day and it has in no way improved with age. It would, however, make a brilliant instrument of torture.




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