Xanadu

Weekly Alibi

DIRECTED BY: Robert Greenwald

REVIEWED: 06-06-97

Yikes! What the hell were they thinking when they made this one? Michael Beck ("who you loved in The Warriors!") stars as a "tortured artist" who, in the throes of an artistic rage, rips up what looks like a drawing of O.J. Simpson and hurls it out the window. The shredded masterpiece, carried aloft by the winds of fate, lands at the base of a mural depicting the Muses (all of whom are clad in the finest '80s fashions). Brought to life by Beck's "art," the Muses dance around to an Electric Light Orchestra song before zipping away to inspire creative-types the world over. One of the muses (stunningly portrayed by Olivia Newton-John) rollerskates into Beck on the boardwalk and gives him a big smooch. Romance is in the offing, and Beck's not about to let it get away. As he pursues Olivia, he stumbles across Gene Kelly, former Big Band clarinetist (?) and current rich guy. The two become pals and are inspired by Olivia to open the greatest nightclub in the world--Xanadu. This is one screwed-up flick, I'm here to tell you. Songs by ELO, Olivia, Cliff Richard and other frightening performers accompany bizarre dance numbers, the dialogue all sounds like it was translated from Italian, Beck and Newton-John turn into fish and birds during a strange animated sequence, and the final dance routine during opening night at Xanadu goes so completely nuts, I almost busted a gasket--trapeze artists, jugglers, zoot-suiters, cowboys, roller-boogiesters, it's got it all! And to top it off, poor Gene Kelly (who's been directed by the likes of Vincente Minnelli and performed the songs of George and Ira Gershwin, among others) is forced to do his thing (still rather remarkably, I have to say) alongside Michael Beck, for God's sake! Without doubt, a nightmare--but quite possibly the best movie ever. (MCA)

--Scott Phillips

Other Films by Robert Greenwald
Breaking Up

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