Instant Finds: Can’t Stop The Music

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I saw the Village People live at a free concert once. While I went to the show to poke fun at them and their ridiculousness, I actually ended up having a lot of fun. The Village People, to this day, are great performers. They know how to work a crowd, and their music, while silly and simple, is still a lot of fun to dance to, especially in a crowd of a few thousand.

But while I enjoyed the concert, at no point afterward did I think to myself, “I’m going to go out and buy some Village People records!” I can’t imagine why anyone ever wanted to. Their music is made to be enjoyed live, or at the very least in a disco.

So the idea that someone could see the Village People live and not only think, “these guys are a musical tour de force, I need to buy all their albums” but also “and someone needs to make a movie about them too!” blows my fucking mind.

Because that totally happened.

Can’t Stop The Music is the Village People movie.

That’s almost all I have to say. What review or commentary is necessary?  Either you’re going to read that and think that this is something you have to see at all costs, or something you need to avoid no matter what. And honestly, both sentiments have merit. But is the film really that bad? Or does the story of the Village People work as a big screen motion picture?

Okay, no. No it does not.

Actually, I don’t know if it does or not, because for all its billing as “The Village People Movie,” the Village People themselves are barely in the flick. Instead the movie is actually the story of Jack Morell (Steve Guttenberg!!!), a struggling composer looking to make it big in the world of disco. After he convinces his supermodel roommate Samantha (Valeria Perrine) to check out a show he’s DJing, she falls in love with his music instantaneously and decides to put up all her money and use all her connections to get him a recording contract. Unfortunately for Jack, he can’t sing for shit, so Samantha decides that the best route for Jack to get his music out there would be to form a group to perform it

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Our hero, ladies and gentlemen.

And that’s where the Village People come in. Some, like Felipe (the Indian), Randy (the Cowboy) and David (the Construction Worker) are from Jack and Sam’s eccentric stable of personal friends. Others, like Glenn (the Biker) and Alex (the GI) they find via ridiculous auditions that feature them competing with fire eaters, stilt-walkers, and Blackie Lawless from W.A.S.P. (really, he’s in this movie).  Once they manage to come together, most of the movie is them trying to convince record executives, ad agencies and concert promoters that the Village People are the act for the future, despite everyone dismissing the group as a gimmicky one-trick pony.

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Honestly? This movie needed more Felipe.

That’s irony, right?

Humor from hindsight aside, the movie does at least have a certain level of charm. For a bit it feels like a 1940s musical, with its incredibly innocent “c’mon guys lets put on a show!” mentality. And that’s probably its greatest asset. It has such a manic, happy nature to it that for at least the first third of the film it’s kind of impossible to hate. Everyone is obviously having so much fun. It’s hard not to get swept up in it. And when the Village People are on screen they have so much charisma and enthusiasm that you just have to root for them at least a little bit.

But then the movie keeps going.

And going.

And going.

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The look on your face when you find out how long this movie is.

Can’t Stop The Music is over two hours long. That is insane. There is barely enough story (and worthwhile music) here to fill maybe 85 minutes, tops. This movie needed to get in, dazzle the audience with fabulous glitter, deliver a legendary rendition of Y.M.C.A. (which it does) and get out before anyone watching it could figure out what the hell was going on. Things like drama, side-plots, and a horribly shoe-horned romance do nothing but add unneeded minutes to its bloated running time.

Oh, did I neglect to mention the romance? That’s right, in addition to Sam trying to convince her old lover into giving the group a record contract; Jack struggling with getting the group together; the band’s difficulties in getting gigs; and Sam fighting with her old modeling agent to help get the group exposure, there’s also a love story between Sam and the band’s makeshift lawyer Ron, played by Bruce Jenner.

Yup. That Bruce Jenner.

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Kardashian joke.

In a film full of half-realized ideas and lazy writing, that’s just one bad idea too many and it all just eventually collapses the weight of its own idiocy, leaving the film only enjoyable for camp value.

Thankfully, however there is a of ton that. There’s a reason why this film lives on as a cult classic. I mean, look at this.

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And this.

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And  this.

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Bang. Bang.

And oh god this.

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Oh. Oh my.

You just can’t look away.

Is Can’t Stop The Music so bad it’s good?

Maybe. It’s definitely so fabulous it’s amazing.

Can’t Stop The Music is currently available on Netflix Watch Instantly and Amazon Prime. Because shit, why not?

2 Responses to Instant Finds: Can’t Stop The Music

  • Bonedwarf says:

    I tweeted you about the fact that I actually saw this at the time! Though not on the big screen, but the BBC aired it in the early 80’s on some random Saturday near Christmas if I recall (I have a memory for such things) and probably 11-12 year old me sat and watched the WHOLE DAMN MOVIE.

    And now I’ve just added it to my Netflix queue… Damn you…

  • Steve says:

    Ha ha – thanks for this review! Our very camp music teacher insisted we see this in year 8, so we didn’t care how long it went for frankly . . .He must have liked it a lot, because he then set a multiple choice exam on it for assessment that term. First time I ever got 100% on anything! I watched it the other day in a Xanadu/You Can’t Stop The Music double . . . wow, head spinners. Loved the “milk” campaign, shake the milk – lordy.

    (Maybe you can do Xandu and the whole Jeff Lynne/ELO/Olivia Newton-John ouvre one day in the future too). Keep up the good work. 🙂

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