After the massive success of Grease, I guess producer Allan Carr thought he could turn absolutely anything into box office gold. I mean, why else would he think Can’t Stop the Music was a good idea? That’s not exactly true. These days, The Village People are a relic of the disco era, remembered by many for their onstage personas–Policeman, Cowboy, Indian, Biker, Construction Worker, and a Fancy-Dress Sailor–and catchy (ahem), repetitive songs. There was a time though, for a couple of years in the late 19 70’s, these guys were the hottest thing going. They were even featured on the cover of the April 19, 1979 issue of Rolling Stone. But timing is everything. Can’t Stop the Music was released in June of 1980. By then, the “disco sucks” movement was in full gear and the film opened to savage reviews and bombed at the box office.
The basic concept of the film–a semi-autobiographical story about how The Village People were formed–doesn’t sound too bad. However, when a young Steve Guttenberg (Cocoon) enthusiastically roller skates through Times Square, it’s immediately clear that this is no ordinary musical biopic. As for Guttenberg, he plays Jack Morell, an aspiring songwriter who writes songs to dance to. Unfortunately, he’s broke, making it hard to get his tunes heard by the masses. He enlists the help of his pal Samantha (Valerie Perrine, Lenny) a wealthy former model and a lawyer with a wild streak named Ron (Bruce Jenner, now Caitlyn) to put together a demo. Of course, they recruit some singers, Glenn the Leatherman (Glenn Hughes), Alex the G.I. (Alex Briley), David the Construction Worker (David Hodo), Randy the Cowboy (Randy Jones), Felipe the Indian (Felipe Rose), and Ray the Policeman (Ray Simpson). Once the men develop their musical chemistry, the Village People set out to conquer the world.
Cleary influenced by Busby Berkeley musicals of the 1930’s, Allan Carr brought lots of spirit to Can’t Stop the Music. The production number about the guys’ love for milkshakes is camptastic! It features The Village People slurping frosty shakes while decked out in white leather bondage gear and chanting “Do the Shake, Do the Shake, Do the Milkshake!” For fans of the group, the real highlight comes when the guys go to a gym and work out to the Village People massive hit, “YMCA.” Surprisingly, this is a PG rated film, yet there are brief glances of full-frontal male nudity and during a hot scene, it’s obvious Valerie Perrine isn’t wearing a top.
Stranger still, is how far the producers went to make the Village People seem straight. You could chock it up to box office concerns, if there weren’t gay undertones in nearly every scene. It’s a bit strange. Can’t Stop the Music is harmless, if ridiculous, fun. The problem is, at 124-minutes, it feels like a chore to watch. Some scenes play much longer than necessary. Cutting 25 minutes of physical comedy, would have created a tighter, more music centered experience. As it is, Can’t Stop the Music is a must-see for any fan of camp cinema.
Presented in the 2.35:1 aspect ratio, Shout Factory’s 1080p transfer has some slight softness, but is otherwise impressive. Detail is quite good throughout, showing obvious differences between the costumes of the Village People and fashion of the day. City views reveal a nice amount of depth. Colors look appropriate, whether it’s the hot lights in clubs, or the primaries in clothing. Faces look natural. The grain is film-like. The image is free of dust or other debris. Viewers should be quite pleased with this transfer.
The front heavy 5.1 DTS-HD MA soundtrack offers a nice low-end beat with appropriate power. The music sounds sharp, and dialogue is clear throughout. Surrounds won’t blow you away, but there’s noted involvement during the musical numbers.
English SDH subtitles are included.
The following extras are available.
- Audio Commentary with Writer Bruce Vilanch and Filmmaker Jeffrey Schwarz
- A Wink, A Wiggle, And A Wave (HD, 25:15) Randy Jones recounts how he became the Cowboy in the Village People.
- Can’t Stop the Cowboy (HD, 40:59) Randy Jones returns to discuss the specifics of making Can’t Stop the Music. He comes across as the kind of you would like to get a burger with!
- Image Gallery (2:10) Includes publicity shots and lobby cards.
- Poster and Press Materials Gallery (8:57) International poster art, press kits and more.
- Vintage Photo Gallery (4:24) Various promo items from the Village People.
- TV Spots (SD, 0:59) Two TV spots for the film.
- Theatrical Trailer (SD, 2:57)
Can't Stop the Music (1980)
Movie title: Can"t Stop the Music
Director(s): Nancy Wallker
Actor(s): Steve Guttenberg, Caitlyn Jenner, Valerie Perrine, Paul Sand, Tammy Grimes , June Havoc
Genre: Musical, Melodrama, Surreal, Comedy, Fantasy