One of the reasons I’ve been so excited to jump on this season of Hit Me With Your Best Shot was the opportunity (read: excuse) to revisit some amazing movies. Study the impeccable visual compositions of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and L.A. Confidential? Yes, please! In fact, the hardest part of both of those entries was having to pick just one out of so many shots to call my favorite.
But that Nathaniel is not one to make us cinephiles too comfortable in a series that has in past seasons covered the gamut of classics, avant-garde oddities, so-bad-they’re-great cheesefests, animated films and relatively recent releases in past seasons. And why should he? It’s easy for someone to lovingly describe the glorious visuals produced by Dante Spinotti (I look forward to the day when he assigns The Insider!), but what about a less reputable work? Well, on April Fool’s Day he gave us Can’t Stop the Music, the 1980 musical tribute to Village People best known today as the first recipient of the Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Picture.
And the movie is amazing. It’s the kind of joyous, “ZOMG out of ★★★★” masterpiece that I would place in the same company as Battlefield Earth and Showgirls. What separates those minor miracles from genuinely awful movies or the faux-“ironic” cult status pretenders is sincerity. From the opening scene where Steve Guttenberg boogies down through the streets of New York with the look of a child at Disneyland, practically assaulted by glittery credits (including such gems as “Milk Shake and Galleria Ensembles for Village People Designed By Theoni V. Aldredge”) and kaleidoscopic split-screen effects, I could tell that director Nancy Walker was not going into this thing half-assed or with any hint of cynicism. Whether she secretly knew that disco was in its death throes and wanted the genre to go out with a bang or was blissfully unaware, the results were hilarious either way.
There are so many potential shots that could sum up why I was howling the entire time, from the aforementioned opening sequence to Felipe Rose’s OUT OF NOWHERE intro in full Indian getup to the entire YMCA sequence. But in the end I just had to go with a shot from my favorite scene:
This shot, from the “I Love You to Death” musical interlude, contains in one image virtually everything that makes Can’t Stop the Music so fun to watch: adorably tacky production values, a member of Village People striking one of several super-gay poses in a male stripper costume (this is definitely one of the most homoerotic movies I have ever seen), the forced and complete lack of actual sexual chemistry displayed between the two dancers. And glitter. Dear sweet baby Jesus they must have blown half the budget on the mountain of glitter that smothers this movie, and bless them for it.
Happy April Fools Day, everyone, and as always be sure to visit The Film Experience at 9:00 PM Eastern for more favorite shots from Can’t Stop the Music!