Sunday, November 22, 2015

Friday Night Fever

I was a teenager/young adult when Thank God It's Friday (1978) came out. I am a veteran of the Disco Wars - an eager foot-soldier in the Disco Sux Army. I was a rocker and a hippie, and when I first saw a crowd of people, once individuals, now all robotically doing the Electric Slide in close formation - well, it chilled me to my core. Dancing was for getting crazy, not following steps!

But that's all behind us. Disco lost as a movement, but survives as a sound. It's in funk, in techno, hip-hop, pop. And now that it no longer threatens world domination, I have to admit, it's pretty catchy. I'm discovering what my frat brothers, Dapper Dan, Pork Chop, and G-More, were trying to tell me. So when I found out that Donna Summer starred in a disco movie, I queued it up for a Friday night.

This is one of those many-characters/one-night movies. The characters are pretty tropey:
  • The underaged girls trying to sneak in (One of them is Terri Nunn, of Berlin - "Take My Breath Away")
  • The good girl (Debra Winger) and her wilder friend, looking for love
  • The nice guy and his nerdy friend, ditto
  • The couple from the suburbs on their anniversary, getting more excitement than they planned
  • The singer who needs to be discovered (Summer)
  • The DJ with a mouth that writes checks his ass might not be able to cover
The locale is "The Zoo" on Sunset Strip (based on the real disco Osko's). You get some nice period West Hollywood night location shots to start. It's DJ Ray Vitte's (Car Wash) first night and he has promised that the Commodores are coming at midnight to perform live for the dance contest. The club owner, Jeff Goldblum at his greasiest, bets the DJ that he can score with the wife of the anniversary couple. That's sort of the plot.

But really, we follow this character and that: Young men and women trying to find a partner. The husband meeting the kooky chick who feeds him funny pills. The girls trying to sneak in being helped out by Marv Gomez (Chick Venerra), the Leather Man. He's a good example of why I liked this movie. He's a kind of stock character, the Mexican who loves to dance. But he isn't just that, he's that and more. He even gets a dance/monologue to explain it all to the nice guy.

OK, honestly, this isn't that deep. It's pretty much what you would expect, except it's pretty well written and performed. Most of the actors weren't familiar, but they all knew what to do. I got the feeling they were all lesser known improv or other kinds of talent.

The music, I'm afraid, was only fair - there was some decent Cameo on the soundtrack, but the Commodores "Too Hot to Trot" was not one of their best. Donna Summer's "Last Dance" was pretty special, and deserved the Oscar it won.

Oh, yes, did I mention this film is an Oscar winner?

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