“Have you ever heard the expression "kissed by a muse"? Well, that's what I am. I'm a muse.”
Before you even have time to make a reaction and say to yourself how awful this movie is let me just defend myself and say yes, I know this movie is God awful but it is hysterically bad. Xanadu is just so bad that it is so much fun to watch. I did not choose to watch this movie initially. Many years ago when VHS was still around my mother –excuse me Santa- gave it to me for Christmas. I remember opening the VHS and looking at her like “what the hell is this” and all she said was “trust me you’ll like it.” Looking back on that Christmas morning I think my mom just bought it because she liked it and remembered seeing Xanadu in the theaters with her friends back in 1980.
So the plot of Xanadu is… well there seems to really not be a plot. Alright well if I had to say there was a plot to Xanadu it’s about this guy Sonny Malone (Michael Beck) who paints enlarged record covers to put on the side of record stores. He is a starving artist who wants more out of life. As he says “dreams don’t come true anyway” a group of muses from a mural on a wall come to life, dance around a bit, and fly off outlined by colored light to inspire people. Kira (Olivia Newton-John) gets left behind to take care of Sonny. She “bumps” into him as she is roller skating and he cannot get her off of his mind. She comes up on an album cover he is supposed to paint. As Sonny goes looking for Kira he comes into contact with an old clarinet player named Danny McGuire (Gene Kelly). This meeting, made possible by Kira, sets Sonny and Danny on a path to a new friendship and partnership.
Along the way to Sonny and Danny’s dream of wanting something more and setting up a new nightclub Kira and Sonny fall in love. Her father Zeus is not having any of it and will not allow her to go to the club opening until after she sings “Suspend Me in Time.” At the opening of Xanadu Kira and the other muses put on a nice show with plenty of roller skating.
Xanadu is ‘80s craptastic cheese at its best. I will admit and not shamefully that I love the musical numbers. The soundtrack is awesome I say the movie was made as an excuse to put great music to. ELO wrote the theme and many of the songs except for three. “All Over the World” and “I’m Alive” are really good numbers. There is one big number that is pretty interesting: it starts off with Danny and Sonny looking over the building where the club will be and each one thinks of it differently- Sonny sees a big rock n’ roll band and stage, Danny sees it as a big band stage with big band music. Each of these comes together for the number “Dancin” which is a good mash up of rock and big band styles of music. Olivia Newton- John sings the big band part and a band called The Tubes sings the rock part. One number “Don’t Walk Away” gets turned into a cartoon scene which really makes the laughter come because it cannot be taken seriously in the slightest (apparently the cartoon was made to save time and not film another scene with the actors).
The acting is really awful by everyone. Olivia Newton- John is a singer first and foremost she may have been fabulous in Grease but in Xanadu and her next film Two of Kind (which my friend said after I made her watch it she felt like she had been violated) are horrendous. She was not a good actress. Poor Gene Kelly this was his last movie he made. He was still awesome he’s Gene Kelly one of the best dancers/actors ever but his acting was not the greatest it is sad to watch him here knowing Xanadu was his last movie especially after he made movies like Singin in the Rain, An American in Paris, and Summer Stock. Even in his old age he was still up and dancing and even on roller skates.
Xanadu is a roller skating ‘80s nightmare. The acting is terrible and the plot seems to be non-existent or if it is there you cannot concentrate on it because all you are thinking about is how corny the whole thing is. But if you can look past all the corniness and cheese and have a good sense of humor Xanadu is pretty fun to watch. Xanadu is my ultimate guilty pleasure and it is one that I enjoy every time.