Reviewed By

Christopher Armstead
I'm a little kid in the late 70's sitting in my grandma's kitchen, listening to my little portable tape deck... you know, the kind you had to press the two buttons down to record something... and rocking some 'Macho Man'. My uncle walks in, hears the song and in his special, neo-intellectual style, informs nine-year old me something along the lines that "You do realize that the Village People are the manifestation and the pure representation of the homosexual culture of the San Francisco gay counter revolution?" Or something like that. So I'm staring at this whackjob of an uncle of mine, who is supposed to be the 'smart one' in the family, and simply nodded because I didn't want to call him out in front of everybody, thus crushing him with my nine year old intellect in front of the entire clan, despite his uppity law degrees and PhD's. I knew with some certainty there is clearly no way that an Indian Chief, a cop, a soldier, a cowboy, a construction worker, and a hardcore biker dude… a group that ONLY sings about manly stuff... could ever be the 'manifestation' of anything gay. Idiot uncle. Of course maybe in retrospect the Village People might've been a little bit gay. Just a little. Or, just a lot, if one happened to see the Classic for All the Wrong Reasons, 'Can't Stop the Music' made way back in 1980, which I just saw yesterday, for the first time, in this year of 2015. And it is absolutely terrible.

Our film has an interesting beginning. Jack Morell (Steve Guttenberg) quits his job at a record store and then proceeds to rollerskate through New York City, for the entirety of the extra long opening credits. These never ending credits have a few things to note. One, watching The Gutes excitedly skate throughout this scene will prep you for the CRAZY amount of energy this cat will project throughout this ENTIRE movie. My man had to be hyped up on the most awesome cocaine bender ever as he was so pumped for this movie that were times I thought his head was going to explode. Then you will notice that while all bad music is not good, bad disco has got to be the worst. Bad disco is terrible, grating, repetitive and never ending. I did not realize this before this day because
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Bad Disco rarely saw the radio light of day. Good disco, say like Good Times by Chic or Boogie Wonderland by EWF or even the afore mentioned Macho Man is also repetitive, but it's catchy and enjoyable in its repetitiveness. Then, as these credits come to its merciful end, you will see the name of the director… Nancy Walker. Wait… Rhoda's mom Nancy Walker? The Quicker Picker Upper Nancy Walker? Yep, that Nancy Walker. Amazing.

Anyway, Jack just wants to be a super DJ and song writer, his platonic house mate, retired supermodel Samantha (Valerie Perrine) wants to help so she actively becomes Jack's manager. What Jack needs is some singers, Samantha knows a few manly guys, say like her other house mate Felipe (Felipe Rose) who dresses like an Indian chief and wears a pair of short jean cut-offs that Daisy Duke would be embarrassed to wear. And he likes to bend over in them. Samantha invites these manly dudes she happens to know to her house for a dinner and a jam session to work out on some of Jack's compositions, her good friend Alicia (Altovise Davis) is Black so she brings the black people in, like the cop and the soldier, and since they are from the village, the Village People are born! Yay.

Oh! And Bruce Jenner shows up at this dinner. Why this corporate tax attorney who never met any of these people is there is super stupid, so we won't worry about it, but there he is. Bruce Freaking Jenner. And while this movie is terrible, Bruce Jenner is not terrible in this movie. Hardly. I am somewhat surprised that he didn't do more athletic stuff, like early in the movie when he was robbed at gunpoint by an old lady on a moped. I figured, since this guys was a world class athlete and all, he was gonna run that old biddy down and beat her to death, but no… Rhoda's mom made him act it out. A lot of other stuff happens in this movie, mostly a lot of singing and dancing, until the Village People are born and History is made.

True enough, 'Can't Stop the Music' is a hot mess. It's scatterbrained, erratic, mostly poorly acted and directed, dumbfounding, bizarre, shocking, uncomfortable… and probably one of the stranger offerings for a family friendly film you will ever want to see. The YMCA scene, despite the awesomeness of the song, with all of its naked men… junk flopping for all to see… glistening men, hurdling men, diving men, Greco-Roman wrestling men, the gayest boxing match you will ever want to witness, and a topless Valerie Perrine splashing in a hot tub surrounded by more glistening, naked men… what the hell was that? I think watching the entirety of that scene actually made me a little bit gay. At least until we got to the staged scene featuring the Ritchie Family performing which kind of reset my heterosexuality back to normal. Those sisters sure are fine, plus with the odd and semi-inappropriate camera angles that Rhoda's Mom was choosing to film the scene, to catch every pelvic thrust, squat and bent over row… Good job Nancy Walker… good job.

But at the heart of this film is Steve Guttenberg. And the music. Man, Guttenberg was on FIRE! He yelled most of his lines, he was always in constant motion, he was so giddy and excitable that in a better movie this manic energy might've been infectious, as opposed to the way it turned out, which was super annoying. But fortunately for Gutes, never far behind his manic behavior was one of the Jaques Morali composed disco songs. Full songs. Full sets. Almost all terrible. Construction dudes song 'I Love you to Death' where he pretended to like girls? Terrible. Valerie Perrine's ode called Samantha? Terrible, repetitive, endless. The Milkshake song, a corporate commercial where our Village heroes pelvic thrusted behind bent over scantily clad women in an effort to sell milk… terrible, endless, repetitive, deeply disturbing. Even the title song to close out the show was fairly awful.

'Can't Stop the Music' was an experience, that much we will admit to. Not the most positive experience, especially considering by the time this movie came out Disco was all but dead, but an experience none the less. Rhoda's mom. Who knew?
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