Cinemalphabet: X is for Xanadu
A place where nobody dared to go…
In Roger Ebert’s review of Xanadu – a film he described as, “so insubstantial it keeps evaporating before our eyes.” – he spends a few moments ticking off the few reasons why a person might actually want to go out and see the film:
There are, however, a few – a very few reasons to see “Xanadu,” which I list herewith: (1) Olivia Newton-John is a great-looking woman, brimming with high spirits, (2) Gene Kelly has a few good moments, (3) the sound track includes “Magic,” if you haven’t heard it enough already on the radio, and (4) it’s not as bad as “Can’t Stop the Music.”
The remainder of the review is spent raking the campy mess over the coals, which feels a bit rich considering Roger Ebert is the dude responsible for unleashing Beyond the Valley of the Dolls onto an unsuspecting film populace who while hardly perfect certainly hadn’t committed an act egregious enough to deserve that film. Then again, we should probably defer to Ebert’s wisdom when it comes to schlocky hot messes since – to paraphrase my tagline – he’s certainly done the legwork. It’s worth noting that I absolutely LOVE Beyond the Valley of the Dolls and love Ebert even more for penning the line, “It’s my happening and it freaks me out!”
Xanadu – or as it’s known around my house – “mutherfucking Xanadon’t” that’s really is unsubstantial, but it’s unsubstantial in a manner similar cotton candy. It’s lights, fluffy, yet remarkably memorable, mostly for reasons that are less than positive. I didn’t think it was possible that John’s performance could be worse than it was in Grease, but it is. Yet, her work in Xanadu is still light years away from the stinkiness on display three years later in the dreadful romantic comedy Two of a Kind. That said, as Kira – the dreamy rollerskating muse – Olivia Newton John is the best thing about the film! That’s pretty damning considering Xanadu also features screen legend Gene Kelly.
But who actually watches Xanadu with an expectation of top notch acting, writing or directions? Nobody with any goddamn sense! No, Xanadu is a film whose strengths lie in its mighty Electric Light Orchestra soundtrack which boasts impressive cuts such as:
And the killer duet with Cliff Richards
And c’mon, if loving a cheesetastic rollerskating love story set to ELO is wrong, I just don’t want to be right.