I’m willing to give my left nut if they do. Academy Award nominee Valerie Perrine, Bruce Jenner and Steve Guttenberg star in Can’t Stop the Music.
Cast of Characters:
Samantha Simpson – Valerie Perrine
Ron White – Bruce Jenner
Jack Morell – Steve Guttenberg
Steve Waits – Paul Sand
Alex – Alex Briley
David – David Hodo
Glenn – Glenn Hughes
Randy – Randy Jones
Felipe – Felipe Rose
Ray – Ray Simpson
Sydney Channing – Tammy Grimes
Helen Morell – June Havoc
Norma White – Barbara Rush
Alicia Edwards – Altovise Davis
Lulu Brecht – Marilyn Sokol
Director – Nancy Walker
Screenplay – Bronte Woodard & Allan Carr
Producer – Allan Carr, Jacques Morali & Henri Belolo
Aspiring songwriter Jack Morell (Steve Guttenberg) has had it with his dead-end job and, with the help of his supermodel friend Samantha Simpson (Valerie Perrine), is finally pursuing his dream of getting a record deal.
Feeling that Jack’s voice isn’t fit to sing, Samantha ventures out into Greenwich Village to recruit the Indian-dressing go-go boy Felipe (Felipe Rose), construction worker model David (David Hodo), singing cop Ray (Ray Simpson), leather fanatic Glenn (Glenn Hughes), G.I. Alex (Alex Briley) and cowboy Randy (Randy Jones) as singers.
So this is essentially a biopic of the Village People… and a ghastly one at that.
Can’t Stop the Music, which plays out like a threat more than an inability to stop the music, is notoriously awful; in fact, its stench of failure was strong enough to convince American copywriter and publicist John J. B. Wilson to form the Golden Raspberry Awards, aka the Razzies. But first, that poor, poor man had to endure a double feature of this film and Xanadu.
Not even Dante’s journey through hell was as cruel and twisted a fate.
This film is brought to us by Allan Carr, the man who gave us the 1978 hit musical Grease. It would never get any better for him as his career would eventually hit rock bottom somewhere around verse two of Rob Lowe and Snow White’s duet of “Proud Mary” during his production of the 1989 Academy Awards.
That tacky son of a bitch was also responsible for doing away with “And the winner is…” and replacing it with “And the Oscar goes to…” I bet he’d dish out 8th place Oscar ribbons if he could. It’s a change that has now become the norm for award shows ’cause I guess “everyone’s a winner”.
Well, that is everyone except those involved in this film. They are definitely losers here.
Let’s put Can’t Stop the Music’s crap-tasticness into perspective.
It’s so bad Grease 2 could actually be considered a return to form for Allan Carr.
It’s so bad, God punished Steve Guttenberg with great vengeance and furious anger by sentencing him to do four Police Academy movies.
It’s so bad it scarred Bruce Jenner into getting a sex change 35 years later just to hide from the shame of starring in this film.
It’s so bad, even as one of the few non R-rated films to feature full-frontal male nudity, parents have found themselves more concerned that they’ve been subjecting their kids to a shitty excuse for a musical than exposing them to hairy, naked adult men.
At its core, this film is another one of the “follow your dreams” films that unfortunately will ’cause every viewer that suffers through it to give up theirs. Guttenberg’s Jack Morell (not so subtly named after producer Jacques Morali) dreams of becoming big music star, and for being as shitty of a songwriter as he is a singer and dancer (though Stevie boogying it up in NYC on roller skates is tragically the film’s high point), I say his chances are quite strong.
And following that gaudy intro, this shameless affront to cinema slams on the gas and goes from worse to holy shit in six seconds. Gaudy’s not even the right word. Allan Carr shitting out glitter and disco lights all over the screen is a more fitting description. And even with the gay identity completely removed from the Village People, Helen Keller herself could sense the homoerotic subtext. Wait, did I say subtext? I meant to say the homoeroticism is at such a stratospheric level it could disconcert even the snazziest, rainbow flag waving, Dorothy Gale costuming, “Two snaps, a twist and a kiss!” homosexual in the entire universe.
The most glaring problem in this film is that it’s a musical with no format consistency. In The Wizard of Oz and The Sound of Music, we can accept that everyone randomly breaks out into song whenever they like ’cause that’s how those movies roll and they stick with it. Clint Eastwood’s Jersey Girl may not be worth being mentioned in the same sentence as those two classics, but it stayed true to its jukebox musical format through the film’s concert or song recording scenes. Can’t Stop the Music’s convention is somewhat similar to Jersey Girl, or at least it’s supposed to be, in that the song numbers are played by way of a band performing or someone playing a tape recording, etc. The one exception that can be given a pass is when the construction worker daydreams to “I Love You to Death”.
What doesn’t get a pass is breaking convention by having everyone break out into choreographed dancing while singing “YMCA”. Not even the artist formerly known as the dude that fucked the Kardashian matriarch dunking a ball or a shot of Valerie Perrine baring her fun bags for all the world to see can excuse such sloppy, uneven craftsmanship from director Nancy Walker.
That’s right, Superman fans. That there’s “Miss Tess-MACHEEEER!!!!” gallivanting it up with the Village People. Meanwhile, in Hackensack, New Jersey, her mother is unable to go cavorting around herself ’cause she’s been blown to bits by another one of Lex’s nuclear missiles.
Once the film was over, I was left with so many questions, the first being how this film ever got green-lit. If Samantha is as famous of a model as the film says she is, why the hell is she hanging out with a schmuck like Jack? That would be like Michael Jordan hanging out with the water boy for the Fort Wayne Mad Ants of the NBA D-League. Why is Bruce Jenner in this film? His character serves no real purpose. Is it so he can make Guttenberg’s performance look respectable? I mean, for Jenner’s sake, that would explain why the Village People show up. And speaking of the Village People, is there a reason they dress up like their stage personas all the time as if it’s their daily wear? I have a feeling I’d get a few more raised eyebrows than just Jenner questioning my outfit choice if I decided to walk around all day with an Indian headdress the size of a wedding train.
Never mind, everyone. I think I just found Jenner’s purpose.
Also puzzling, this disco-themed film was done no favors being released in 1980. Saturday Night Fever, released in 1977, benefited from a release that came at the height of the disco craze. Can’t Stop the Music inexplicably came a year after the infamous Disco Demolition Night at Comiskey Park in Chicago, a day that would become known as “the day Disco died”. Either strike while the iron’s hot, or wait at least 15-20 years to capitalize on the nostalgia factor. Coming out right in the thick of “Disco Sucks” isn’t exactly the brightest marketing strategy.
Although who are we kidding? Hold off another 50 years for all I care; I doubt anyone would give a frog’s fat ass about a Village People biopic.
Laughably inept from start to finish, Can’t Stop the Music fails as a rags-to-riches tale, fails as a comedy (well, intentionally at least), fails as a biopic, fails as a musical – hell, this couldn’t even pass as a cheap, 2 AM Pure Disco CD commercial. This atrocity may not have killed disco, but it certainly did a hell of a good job in making sure it the era remained dead and buried.