Xanadu (1980)

xanadu poster 1980 movie
2.0 Overall Score
Story: 1/10
Acting: 3/10
Visuals: 2/10

Gene Kelly brings class, a couple of catchy pop songs

Awful story, cheesy looking, bad chemistry

Movie Info

Movie Name:  Xanadu

Studio:  Universal Studios

Genre(s):  Musical/Romance/Sci-Fi/Fantasy

Release Date(s):  August 8, 1980

MPAA Rating:  G

xanadu muse mural long beach the fall sonny michael beck

I love you, painting

Sonny Malone (Michael Beck) is an artist that dreams of more than a hum-drum job at making record covers.  When he meets Danny McGuire (Gene Kelly) who also wants a change in his life, Sonny begins thinking about his life.  The introduction of a beautiful girl named Kira (Olivia Newton-John) could be the muse that Sonny needs…literally.  Kira is actually Terpsichore and one of the actual muses.  As Danny and Sonny work to make their dreams come true, Kira could be in trouble because she could be falling in love.

Directed by Robert Grenwald, Xanadu is rock musical.  The film takes story aspects from the 1947 movie Down to Earth.  The movie was released to negative reviews but the soundtrack was a best seller.  The movie won a Razzie for Worst Director with nominations for Worst Picture, Worst Actor (Beck), Worst Actress (Newton-John), Worst Screenplay, and Worst Original Song (“Suspended in Time”).  The movie was awarded a legacy Razzie of Worst Musical of Our First 25 Years in 2005.  The movie has gained a cult following over the years.

xanadu don bluth animation dont walk away

…because everyone wanted an animation sequence to slow the movie down more

Xanadu is bad.  There is no getting around it.  The acting and the story are bad.  The question becomes if you can tolerate Xanadu enough for it to make “so-bad-it-is-good” status.

Not only is the movie bad, but even the movie by description is bad.  Two guys and a girl make a roller disco in 1980…in which disco was already dead.  The movie trudges along and forces song after song…and an animated sequence by Don Bluth when they wanted to fit another song in the movie.  The reason is that there isn’t much of a story.  It is a letdown until the end…no fireworks.

The acting is also poor.  It is Gene Kelly’s swan song (which is unfortunate), and he’s ok despite the script.  His acting style is an older acting style, and it doesn’t mesh well with the other two leads but his few dancing scenes proves he still has the moves…even if he’s put on roller skates.  Both Michael Beck and Olivia Newton-John are cardboard with their performances.  The movie in general comes of uninspired…partially due to the performances.

xanadu gene kelly rollerskating

Kelly still has the moves…even on skates

The music is the only high point for Xanadu and even that is a stretch.  Olivia-Newton John’s hits “Magic”, “Xanadu”, and even “Suddenly” are decent sugary disco pop songs, but the other songs in the movie are forgettable if not bad.  The look and style of the movie tries to be very sci-fi and futuristic at points and I can’t imagine that even in 1980 it looked good.

Xanadu tries to capitalize on the Grease success of Olivia Newton-John, the gimmick of roller skates, and the popularity of disco…and fails on all fronts.  It can be seen as so-bad-it-is-good, but most will see it as just bad.  The movie oozes cheese factor with a story so bland that there is barely any tension.  Despite this, Xanadu was adapted into a stage musical in 2007 with mostly positive reviews.  Apparently, there might be a little piece of roller-disco in us all.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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