|Guilty Pleasures: XANADU
By Brian M. Raferty for Entertainment Weekly #530 March
|The following is a small extract from EW's cover story of guilty pleasures (Pam
Anderson's breasts, progressive rock and Shaquill O'Neil being a few examples). This
one was on 'Xanadu' were it was rated a 7 in the 'Guilt-O-Meter'.
Who can resist a film that spectacularly combines Greek mythology, roller-skating and Olivia
Newton-John? Ostensibly a remake of Rita Hayworth's 1947 comedy 'Down To Earth', 'Xanadu' features
Newton-John as a muse sent from the heavens by Zeus, apparently to kick-start the leg warmer
revolution. She winds up uniting a struggling artist (Michael Beck) and a washed-up dancer (Gene Kelly)
in their dream to launch a gaudy, neon-washed music hall-slash-roller rink. (No, really.) The
choreographed-to-the-extreme dance numbers that follow (courtesy of ELO mastermind Jeff Lynne) are
just as memorizing as the eerie, ethereal glow that Newton-John delivers much of her dialogue bathed in.
Released in 1980, Xanadu straddles two decades of outlandish taste, though not even that can explain
it's eye-popping disco-meets-deco aesthetic. But unlike early-80's attempts to reinvigorate the musical
(e.g., Popeye), Xanadu actually has some hummible tunes (the title song makes for killer karaoke) and a
refreshingly naive sincerity that can't be duplicated in this post-ironic age.
(c) 2000 Entertainment Weekly, Inc.