It’s April Fool’s Day, and for this week’s edition of Hit Me with Your Best Shot, Nathaniel at the Film Experience has given into the spirit of the day by picking one of the iconic Good Bad Movies: 1980’s Can’t Stop the Music, winner of the very first Razzie for Worst Picture, and the first of that year’s three magnificently awful disco musicals (the others are Xanadu and The Apple). I had never seen it before, but it’s been on my radar for years, and I am very happy to report that it full lives up to all of my expectations for it. It’s a wholly fictitious “how the band was formed” biopic of the Village People, casting them as the background characters in the story of how a limp noodle played by Steve Guttenberg becomes a successful song writer. It is quite possibly the un-gayest Village People movie with onscreen penises that could imaginably exist, with all of its campiness – and it is campy enough to affect the orbit of a small planet – of the wholly accidental sort that comes when people think they’re doing something fun and playful, when it is actually insane and beyond incompetent.
It’s obviously too much to expect Nancy Walker, an actress who dabbled in TV directing and made no other features besides this one, and cinematographer Bill Butler to indulge in actual, legitimate good image-making in what amounts to a deranged commercial for one of disco’s tackiest sideshows at the exact moment that mainstream disco was about to die of consumption, so I changed my usual strategy for picking a favorite shot. I wanted to find, in one image, something that summed up everything magnificent about this gloriously awful musical: its ugly visuals, its inability to ever be anything else than a rinky-dink B-movie, its tasteless excess, its massively ineffective attempt to split the difference between the look and mood of the 1970s versus the 1980s, ending up in a place where it just ends up feeling manic, unhinged, and blitzed on cocaine.
It proved to be shockingly easy to find such an image.
I believe that I have nothing to add to that, though it’s a real pity that it’s not moving, so you can’t get the full majesty of the glitter effect on the text. I will, however, share my second choice, which I might have even gone with if I’d been able to scrounge up a widescreen copy of the film:
The Village People can walk on water, y’all. The Village People are the resurrected Christ.