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The “Official Film of the Village People.” We’d expect nothing less and accept no imitations. Can’t Stop the Music (as much as we’d like to try) is a trailblazer of sorts: it won the first ever Razzie.
A fictionalized account of the gimmicky West Village disco act, it also features Bruce Jenner, of all people, as a square partner in a tax law firm that branches out into the entertainment space to sign the young upstarts (who at this point, weren’t particularly young and whose career was backsliding a bit after knocking it out of the park with hits like “Macho Man” and the second most ubiquitous stadium singalong in the world, “YMCA”).
Steve Guttenberg is Jack, the roller skating principal songwriter and creative force behind the new group (a phrase that conjures up insult king Jeff Ross’ hilarious put-down of Gene Simmons* during the latter’s roast, “why’d you guys break up, un-creative differences?”)
Jack is in a platonic relationship with roommate and ex-model Samantha, who has connections in the music business that eventually lead to a new group being formed in a Greenwich backward. How they got their name is a decidedly underwhelming set piece and pretty far removed from, say, a John Lennon dream about putting a beat behind a beetle.
Goes without saying that Can’t Stop the Music is pretty darn wacky stuff.
In the book, Party Animals: A Hollywood Tale of Sex, Drugs, and Rock ‘n’ Roll Starring the Fabulous Allan Carr**, author Robert Hofler describes the reception the film received: “audiences were respectfully quiet, but in San Francisco they guffawed at the movie’s strong current of homoerotica…”
The Washington Post asked, “Does anyone believe that the Village People is a singing group with staying power or lasting appeal?” And Yahoo! called it “an absolute trainwreck of a movie,” which is just the way we like ’em.
Not as charmingly cool as Xanadu, nor as criminally misguided and bordering on the offensive as The Apple, it’s still worth a look.
**1/2 (out of 5)
*We both dig KISS regardless and speaking of the group, they were also signed to the Village People’s record label, Casablanca].
**Carr managed Tony Curtis and Peter Selllers among others, and produced Can’t Stop the Music