"musical comedy" movie, starring Steve Guttenberg
, Bruce Jenner
, and The Village People
. "Can't Stop the Music"? Thanks to the "mute" button, you certainly can, and you'll be glad you did!
Oh, it sucks like hard vacuum! How did the director (Nancy Walker) of such popular TV shows as The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Rhoda, and Alice turn out such wretched drivel? The writers are no slouches, either; Allan Carr and Bronte Woodard had previously collaborated on the Grease screenplay. (Woodard died in 1980, presumably of self-loathing.)
The fatal flaw of this movie lies in the "unstoppable" music of the title. There's a reason The Village People are remembered for the song YMCA and little else... namely, the TERRIBLE VAST SUCKAGE of their sound, as exemplified in this film's soundtrack. To further exonerate Ms. Walker, consider the MTV-video-style scenes showcasing the individual Village Persons: if you turn the sound way down, the visual appeal comes to the fore. Slick, sparkly, even sexy in a cheesy disco-death-rattle way.
The story is an overworked juvenile fantasy, tritely realized: Struggling Artist (Guttenberg as "Jack Morrell", depicting Village People founder Jacques Morali) gets The Big Break and they all live Happily Ever After. The comedy is of the cheapest brand, the sort of innuendo and sight gags that would propel Guttenberg's career through numerous absurd comedies. The Indian Chief appears early on, and it's hard not to turn the phrase "monkey boy" over in one's mind as his antics unfold. Jack's housemate, Samantha, pulls together the rest of the band, apparently by stopping random tradesmen on the street and discovering their musical sidelines. The "romance" aspects are almost as heartwarming as porno, and the crowning irony of the story is Jack's confidence in the appeal of his music.
If Saturday Night Fever captured the spirit of an era, Can't Stop the Music got lost in the chase and fell in a punji pit. If you are somehow forced to watch this abysmal harbinger of disco's demise, I recommend puncturing your eardrums or biting the cyanide capsule. If these are not possible, you may console yourself with the knowledge that you have a good Geneva Convention case.