Weekend Movie – Can’t Stop the Music

Can’t Stop the Music is an 80’s dance film about New York City as well as the Village People on their way to success and sparkles from the very first scene. It opens with Jack Morell (Steve Guttenberg) who is desperately trying to get a night off but his boss (Dick Patterson) insists on the scheduled inventory. The youngster just cannot take this kind of treatment any longer and quits his job. He knows, he belongs in show business.

Jack: But Sir, I’ve got an opportunity.

Boss: No inventory, no job.

Jack: (Over microphone of record store) Okay Chelsey, have it your way. Next time you take inventory you’ll be counting the albums of Jack Morell. Because, I am a composer, not a schlepper salesman.

(With clenched fists and a big smile he rolls off on his roller skates.) My time is now!

When the montage starts rolling, you really wish they had picked a different lead.

It takes more than a pretty face to make it in this town

Jack is not just dreaming of becoming a DJ. Together with his roommate Samantha “Sam” Simpson (Valerie Perrine) they decide to make Jack’s music a success. Sam has recently retired as a supermodel and has lots of time up her sleeve. The group is slowly assembled and all band members dress rather unique, so there’s no need for branding. One Native American + one construction worker + one cowboy + one policeman + one leathery biker + one soldier = lots of mo’s and one sextet. They soon find the perfect place to rehearse and the non-rated nudity is proof; it’s fun to stay at the YMCA! It must have been a hot summer in New York, as the boys don’t seem to wear too many clothes.

In the meantime, Sam’s love affair with Ron White (Caitlyn Jenner) suffers because he is struggling to accept her tolerant lifestyle.

Ron: Let’s put it this way; you’re friends are a little far out for me. I don’t understand why a good looking girl like you is down here in in the Village with a bunch of … I don’t know what!

Sam: You know something? I don’t judge people, I accept them. There isn’t a person who breathes that doesn’t have certain peculiarities. As long as it doesn’t hurt anybody, it’s alright with me.

Ron: But where do you draw the line?

Sam: With uptight squares like you.

This is the message of Can’t Stop the Music in a nutshell.

Ron’s wealthy mum on the other hand, isn’t all that square and finds the concept rather charming. The socialite calls the queer bunch Village People and with a name, band and composer, they are unstoppable. They fail to impress a producer and their milk commercial (which is by far the best scene of this movie) turns out too controversial for the American family audience but after these minor hiccups, they are on their way to fame and what could be a better place for the showdown than San Francisco?

I really don’t get why it’s so bad

Alright, there’s no spoilers this week, as there is not much plot in the first place. Allan Carr went for pure entertainment in the old MGM style but failed to live up to his success with Grease. Needless to say Can’t Stop the Music resembles little of the story of the Village People. It was a box office catastrophe. One could argue that the representation of gay culture remains stereotypical but at least it does get presented. Once the Wall Street crowd, Jack and his mum, get to know the Village People, they are perfectly capable of simply accepting them for the people they are.

Working title for this dance film was Discoland: Where the Music Never Ends, which makes you think of Xanadu right away. Olivia Newton-John was offered the lead but signed up for Xanadu instead. Muse of Dance ‘Kira’ and retired supermodel Sam are magical fairy like creatures, beautiful, smart, calm, patient and in any other way perfect. Both dance flicks wanted to welcome the 80s. Not to forget, both, a 99 Cent double-feature of them to be correct, inspired John J. B. Wilson to host the Golden Raspberry Awards. Can’t Stop the Music was the first to be awarded the Golden Raspberry for Worst Film of the Year.

Why we love it: For every single sparkle and its call for more tolerance. Can’t Stop the Music is one of 100 Most Enjoyably Bad Movies Ever Made (according John Wilson and his book The Official Razzie® Movie Guide). It is therefore part of the canon of bad movies and a must view for any kitsch fan.

Recommended for: anyone who really appreciates a good bad movie or loves a magical time.

1980, Musical comedy (EMI) Directed: Nancy Walker Written: Allan Carr
Steve Guttenberg (Jack Morell)
Valerie Perrine (Samantha “Sam” Simpson)
Caitlyn Jenner  (Ron White)
The Village People (as themselves):
Alex Briley (Alex)
David Hodo (David)
Glenn Hughes (Glenn)
Randy Jones (Randy)
Felipe Rose (Felipe)
Ray Simpson (Ray)