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Holy Xanadu!! March 23, 2009

Posted by ronannarbor in Movies.
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Recently saw the Broadway tour of Xanadu in Chicago — and it brought back this bizarre sweep of nostalgia for the original movie, which I hadn’t seen since 1980…So ABC Family comes to my rescue again this weekend with the movie version of Xanadu….and what a suprise…

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First — let’s not get carried away — this is one of the WORST movie musicals ever made — and it has nothing to do with the sometimes excellent music and performances, and completely has to do with the terrible script.

But there is some brilliant in this terrible movie as well. First is Olivia Newton John in an amazing musical performance that includes tap dancing (she’s good!), roller-disco, and hip hop (okay, let’s call it what it was, there was no Hip Hop back then, it was all plain old DISCO)…but she is good….and I mean good. She matches other musical theatre singers/dancers for strong song and dance, and stage presence.

Then there is the wonderful art design — granted, it doesn’t get off to a good start with the purple-aura muses coming to life….but it gets better — the studio work looks great, and the sequence in which the Swing Band and the ELO Band slide together is sheer musical theatre brilliance.

The final sequence, as aweful as it is, features some terrific footwork and tap — when was the last time you saw Tap in a movie musical?…and these folks tap dance on roller skates!….

Give it a look — it’s aged well, and it’s a highly entertaining 90 minutes. It’s a great filler for your Netflix list — and if your old enough to remember, it’s a blast of 1980’s nostalgia that reminds you how terrible our clothes were, how awful our hair was, and the bizarre taste we had in colors. It’s all there, and it’s all more genuine than movies like Grease, because this movie wasn’t designed to be nostalgic — it was real-life living, breathing musical culture circa 1980. And it’s hilarious.

Now where is my shirt with the buttons that closed on a diagonal across my chest?….I know it’s in some closet somewhere…although this time, what goes around is NOT going to come back around…

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