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So here's this movie "Flashdance" which has been staring me in the face
years, both in pop culture for over half of my life and on the video
store shelves, and yet I've never gotten around to checking it out until
I was fifteen when this movie was first out and popular. I heard the soundtrack, of course, and loved it to pieces... but I had never been able to watch the movie because it was rated R.
I had grown up having it be, in an odd sort of way, both a part of my life and at the same time *not* a part of my life. I was familiar with its music, images, and even its basic plot outline, but had never seen the movie.
And as an adult, I felt extremely dubious about checking it out. Over the years, I had heard that people either loved it to pieces or hated it. I've heard critics both call it uplifting and fun while others called it nothing more than a string of glittering little music videos strung together on an extremely thin strand of plot (a creation device for a LOT of MTV-era movies such as "Top Gun", "Footloose" and "Purple Rain").
To add to my confusion about whether or not I should give it a try, I had had the same experience with "Saturday Night Fever": I grew up loving the soundtrack to pieces but having never seen the movie... and when I finally did I felt utter disappointment at first, discovering the film to be far darker than expected. Oh sure, I later liked "Fever" okay (actually, I should use the term "appreciated") but still preferred the gorgeous soundtrack to the actual film that was the basis for its existance.
Would I have the same experience with "Flashdance"?
Tonight, I finally decided to, as one character in the film puts it, "hold my breath and take the plunge".
As it turns out, I found it to be a surprisingly charming, entertaining and uplifting film. I was fearing it to be something raunchy, but at it turns out it has a very special, starry-eyed sweet innocence that is difficult to define.
The performance of the equally starry-eyed and innocent Jennifer Beals helps, of course. She brings a wide-eyed sparkle and hopefulness to her role, plus a determination to keep her life on the right track precisely as she feels it ought to go without any major morality screwups, and this adds a wonderful flavour of hope and childlike wonder to her character Alex that just simply grows on you.
Now, it IS true that there are a few flaws here and there, and a couple of editing flaws as well. Plus, the other characters aren't really as developed as hers (but they are developed just enough to demonstrate to her personally the various dos and don'ts regarding attitudes to have while pursuing a dream, voices for her to observe and learn from representing both directions). But none of that matters because the film has a charm all its own. Looking at it today, I can easily see why so many out there loved it: its a beautiful and very encouraging little film. It has a heroine whom anybody could relate with and like; it has wonderful music in it; it has a delicate and lighthearted touch to it which, language and a couple of scenes aside (such as the film's most heartbreaking scene in which Alex saves a desperate friend from throwing life away in a strip joint (a sequence which only lasts about two minutes long--but it's sad and disturbing, not "Oooh, let's put this in to grab male members of the audience!"--which is most likely the only ingredient to earn the film its R rating)), is nevertheless still so pure and true that it could have come straight out of a '70s-made Walt Disney Productions movie (!!!); it's touching and moving... and, of course, it has dance sequences which are fun to watch.
In other words, it was a comforting and uplifting movie released during a time when people, youngsters with career goals in particular, needed one. And if anything, folks still need movies like that out today. It's a happy little film with a happy ending which isn't overdone or unconvincing, and precisely the sort of flick which should be perscribed to those suffering severe depression. Heaven knows that I myself certainly felt encouraged about my own career and life in particular after watching it!
It might not be for everybody, but if the above description I've written voices the sort of movie you personally enjoy then do yourself a big favour and give it a try. Chances are that if you are as naturally starry-eyed and hopeful as Alex is--and believe me, *I* certainly am--then you will easily relate to this delightful little fable.
Sometimes, it just helps to review the narrative, it really clarifies things. Go out into the world and find: a welder by day, dreams of being a ballet dancer, has a dinosaur as a mentor, lives in a warehouse that must rent for $10,000 per month, dances at the local bar that appears to have a multimillion dollar lighting and sound system? Does this sound real to you? I wish I could explain the plot to you; it does not have one. Basically, Beals and the ugliest dog on earth, hang out either at the dance bar or the warehouse. She does set the template for Baby in DIRTY DANCING by watching out for the world's worst ice skater and exotic dancer. This was later ripped off in the aforementioned stink bomb. The movie has one good song, WHAT A FEELING, that they play twice for a reason. The indigenous score is so awful: Bette Davis' Eyes, Maniac, that they ripped off Gloria by Laura Brannigan to make the soundtrack not stink quite so bad. Oh, I forgot hamburger boy, the world's worst stand up comic. Take it from me, unless it is FATAL ATTRACTION, if it says directed by Adrian Lynne, put the movie back. Do not believe me watch: 9 1/2 Weeks, Jacob's Ladder: his movies suck.
Show of hands, who thought the movie ends with her failing and jumping off a bridge? Please, we all know how it will end even the death of Jurassic woman. The acting is awful; only Triassic woman can even act and she is rarely on screen. Beals and Nouri may be attractive people but their reading of their lines is painful. The movie is slow, boring and badly acted. The music is dreadful. We know the ending before it happens. The climax is awful. If you are going to use a body double for Beals try not to pick someone five inches taller with a more muscular body and lighter skin tone. They have her throw her hair over her face; hey, I could hardly tell. Why does she fly through the air? Did she have the chili? Did the earth stop rotating? Is she from Krypton? Young people, in my theater people were laughing at this scene; it is not moving, it is hilarious. The movie is one of the worst pieces of poop you will ever sit through, don't, get up and turn it off. ABYSMAL MOVIE
In recent years there have been a number of British films based on the
of working-class people who find fulfilment through their cultural
activities; examples being Educating Rita (the first and most
distinguished), Brassed Off, The Full Monty and Billy Elliott. Such films
are frequently described as `quintessentially British' or `something that
can do and Hollywood can't', whereas the truth is that twenty years ago
Hollywood was indeed making very similar films, mostly centred upon
such as Saturday Night Fever, Dirty Dancing or Flashdance. Whereas these
American films may not have had the covert (or, in the case of Brassed
highly overt) political message of their British counterparts, they
nevertheless concentrated on differences in social class far more than
Hollywood movies usually do.
The heroine of Flashdance, Alex, is a young woman who works as a welder and whose main joy in life is dancing. She moonlights as a dancer in a local nightclub, but her great ambition in life is to become a ballet dancer. The film tells the story of how she achieves that ambition, as well as the story of her romance with a wealthy middle-class divorcee, set against frequent dance sequences as Alex and her ice-skating friend Jeanie go through their paces. The climax comes with a scene in which she auditions for a place at a prestigious ballet academy and treats the judging committee to a bravura display of breakdancing. (Would a ballet school really be prepared to offer a place to a candidate whose dance skills owe more to the disco than to Swan Lake and who seems completely ignorant of balletic idiom?)
The film has its weak points. Although the plot is not as non-existent as some reviewers have felt, it nevertheless tends to take second place to the showpiece dance numbers; at times, it felt as if I were watching an extended series of pop videos. Potentially interesting themes are ignored; for example, Alex is a practising Catholic, but this seems to be a plot device to enable scenes set in the confessional to be used as soliloquies in which she can air her emotional problems. No attempt is made to explore the possible conflict between the demands of her religion and her sexually provocative dancing or her love for a divorcee.
The acting is undistinguished; Jennifer Beals makes an attractive and personable heroine, but it is clear why, despite the success of this film, she did not go on to become a major star. Her acting is too weak to enable her to carry a film; certainly I felt that she would be out of her depth in one that depends more upon plot and less upon song and dance. The other characters are little more than ciphers, with the exception of Hanna, the old lady who acts as Alex's mentor. I could certainly have done without the tasteless ethnic jokes told by Alex's comedian friend.
Yet, despite its faults, I enjoyed this film. Its redeeming feature is the zest and energy of its dance sequences, set to some well-chosen music such as Laura Branigan's Gloria or Irene Cara's title song. It may not be deep or significant, but it is an enjoyable, well-made piece of popular entertainment. 6/10.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I was a sophomore in college when this movie came out and I had never
actually seen it until last night. I finally decided to watch it
because I like good dancing and because the movie had such cultural
impact. After seeing the movie I am completely baffled by how it had
any effect other than putting people to sleep.
The story is pretty preposterous when you think about it. Does anyone actually buy the idea that that beer joint full of gnarly old steel-workers and teamsters could keep their clientèle with the high concept dances that those girls were doing? They would have all been over to Zanzibar faster than you can say "performance art". Can you imagine the reaction of the real life versions of that audience to that bizarre TV watching No theater dance thing that she did? Please.
It seems plausible to me that there could be a woman that worked in a steel yard and was also a dancer--after all both are physically demanding jobs. But I didn't buy for a second that THAT girl worked in a steel yard. And I didn't buy for a second that I was looking at a real steel yard. Steel work is dangerous. You don't keep your work area looking like a junk yard and not end up loosing a limb. I love some of the inane shots like when two welders are sitting in the big corrugated tubes welding. What the hell are they doing in there? Or when she is cutting six inches off of a rusty steel bar with a cutting torch. She was obviously board and just started cutting random things up.
But story holes like that can be overlooked if the movie is fun or at least stimulating in some way. Flashdance doesn't offer anything to balance it, however.
The dancing horrible. It is the spastic twitch-and-pose style that ruined American musicals until...well are we really over it yet? The sensuality that the movie tries for is ruined by Jennifer Beal's complete lack of personality. I mean I am a 42 year old male and when she was supposed to be eating lobster my only reaction was to think that she should get a lobster bib.
You can't really get behind Alex and her dreams because her character is so stupid and shallow. The dog had more going on than she did.
The love affair is flat. It comes across as nothing more than a boss with the hots for one of his workers. Zero passion.
Even the final scene where she dances for Orville Redenbacher and some other stiffs is unsatisfying because the panels reaction is so unbelievable. What serious dancers wouldn't roll their eyes at Alex's lame cheerleader routine? In short the movie had nothing but leg-warmers and large sweatshirts. Oh, yeah, there is a good chunk of nudity when Alex "rescues" her friend from being a useless erotic dancer (a laughable bit of hypocrisy). Other than that the movie is a waste of time. I wish that the MST3K crew were still in business. This would make good fodder for them.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I'm a dance teacher and was looking forward to some good dance routines
in this film. How sad to have been subjected to such a painful
I had major problems with Jennifer Beals and her character. I found Alex extremely repellent. Beals' face is so young, sweet and innocent, and this very incongruous with Alex's very disturbing lewdness, especially in that disgusting restaurant scene. She also has the temper tantrums of a toddler. It is very difficult to believe that Nick would keep coming back to such a moody teenager after her frequent rantings and ravings, especially after she opens the door of a moving car and chucks a stiletto at him, opting rather to walk home - in the middle of the road - with only one shoe!!!. And what about after her idiotic behaviour after the night at the ballet. In fact, the whole romance was very disturbing - the 30 something year old man going after a girl who looks about 16. Yuck.
As for the dancing, I'm afraid this 80s style is totally dated. What on earth was that TV dance sequence about in the club? Who was supposed to be dancing? I wasn't even sure if it was a woman or a man in drag! And even that famous final sequence is pretty disappointing, especially given the context of an audition for a ballet company. The camera shots of her leap actually ruin it's effect because you can't see what she's doing. And what on earth was she doing when she went past each of the panel pointing at them? And as many other comments have pointed out, she would NEVER get into a ballet company on the strength of that audition - perhaps that's why they don't actually say at the end whether she was successful or not, the closure is the fact that she overcame her fear in the end. Of the 'Flashdancers', I actually thought the best sequence belonged to Cynthia Rhodes (Penny in Dirty Dancing). You could see that she was a real dancer, and her acrobatics were very impressive. This is of course if you can get past her appalling costume and makeup.
There were two good bits in this film - the ballet dancers stretching when Alex goes for the first time to apply for an audition - they look so lovely and classy, and at least this helps to underline the difference between her current dance career and the one she aspires to. The other good scene was the break dancing in the street. I also liked the ice skater's parents, they were funny.
Some other random points - who was Hanna and how did Alex get to know her? What was an 18 year old doing living in a converted warehouse all alone? How did she afford that lovely barre and all the furniture?Where were her family? Was that scene in the 'nude' club really necessary? The person who wrote in their comment that it was something like a Disney film needs their head examined. And anyway, what happened to the ice skater?
Many people said the film was poor but they liked the message - don't give up hope, keep on trying, and your dreams will come true. Watch "The Little Mermaid" instead.
There are already many comments on this film in the IMDb database, and I had no intention of writing another until to my surprise I noticed that it was frequently being replayed on several different local TV channels. Flashdance is a very outdated movie that has never appealed to most film critics, so I felt this was sufficiently unusual to justify an attempted explanation.
Since the DVD of Flashdance was released, it has appeared for hire in many small local convenience stores and service stations that only maintain a very small rack of films for hire Clearly although it is now very much of a period movie, it continues to retain an enormous appeal for many of those who have seen it before. Personally I have watched our tape of Flashdance more often than most of the other tapes we have at home. This is not because it would be my first choice, but because it is a film that my wife loves to watch again and again; whilst I find I can view it repeatedly more readily than many of her other favorite tapes, so when we are discussing what to view and have rejected a number of other possibilities we tend to turn back to Flashdance. This reinforces the comments already made in your database about Flashdance being a "feel good" movie for which most people seem able to ignore the faults and just enjoy the music, the dancing and the romance. (It also features "Grunt", a very appealing dog, who remains one of the reasons why my wife is always ready to rewatch this film.) As a film Flashdance is therefore something of a paradox. Originally the final product was not very highly regarded by the studio and only received a limited release. This was severely panned by most of the critics, and not surprisingly the film initially received very little support from the public. The reviews and the low attendance led to plans to withdraw it from circulation early, but before these were implemented the audiences started to grow and continued to increase until cinemas showing the film were mostly packed out. Clearly those few who saw the film at an early showing started telling their friends to ignore the critics and see it. This escalated exponentially until the film finished up as a major hit. In commenting on this film it would be equally invalid to ignore the very real concerns of the critics or the equally real appeal it had, and still seems to have, for most of the public.
The story is trite - a female welder in a steelworks dreams of being a ballet dancer and practices her dancing in one of the local bars at night. Here she meets and starts to fall in love with her fairly young divorced boss. With his support she is able obtain an audition with a major dance company who are essentially only interested in her dance training, and lose any interest they may have had when she says she has never attended a dance school. However she proceeds to audition for the very bored selection committee and gives an electrifying free dance performance that in true fairy story tradition brings the committee to its feet. Some critics have complained that doubles replaced the star Jennifer Beals for this sequence, but this is surely not important - the real question is how effectively the film plays, and this sequence has rightly been very widely admired. About the time the film was released, modern dance companies were being formed alongside traditional ballet companies in many major cities in North America and this sequence certainly added to the appeal of the film at the time, but it is decidedly not the only reason for watching it.
I could spend pages criticizing the screenplay in several different respects, but other comments in your database have already done this, and these criticisms are ultimately not damming. The important thing is that the film maintains an ongoing flow which sweeps most viewers along and earns it a place as one of the finer musical comedies to have been released in the past quarter century. The object of a film is to entertain the public and in ranking Flashdance I feel I must base my rating on its undeniable success in doing just this. So 7 out of 10.
Flashdance is one of my Top Ten Films. I don't care that it has no twisting
plot. I don't care that Jennifer Beals used a body double. I REALLY don't
care that it's a chick flick. I love this movie!!
Some people, after seeing Flashdance, choose to see a movie about exotic
dancing. For one reason or another, I see a movie about chasing dreams,
taking chances, and maximizing life.
Jennifer Beals' character Alex Owens's dream of attending a formal dance school and becoming a ballerina is the central theme of the film. Her friends Jeanie and Richie are aspiring figure skaters and stand-up comedians, respectively. However, Alex is the only dreamer receiving any encouragement. Her senior citizen friend Hannah, a former ballerina herself, gives Alex practical advice and unconditional faith. Jeanie's father openly criticizes Jeanie's dream as well as her beau, Richie. Richie, a cook at Mawby's Bar, is put down by his boss for wanting to go to Hollywood and being a comedian; "You're too short. They don't let short people into Hollywood."
The sub-plots facilitate Alex's dream to create a captivating story. To support herself (and possibly, to keep life interesting), Alex holds 2 jobs: a welder by day and a dancer at aforementioned Mawby's Bar during the night. Her welding boss Nick takes a liking to her and pursues her. Alex resists his charms but gives in eventually. Johnny C., the sleazy strip bar owner continually tries to lure Alex into dancing for him. As mentioned before, Alex's friends Jeanie and Richie have dreams of their own, and we see where their dreams take them.
The factor that made Flashdance a hit was the music, of course. "What a Feeling" took away an Oscar for Best Song. "I'll Be Here Where the Heart Is", sung by Kim Carnes ("Bette Davis Eyes") fits Alex's personal-crisis scene perfectly.
The first time I watched Flashdance was 4 years ago; I bought the video knowing I'd like it. After 20+ viewings, I still love it. Flashdance is for anyone who has a dream but not the courage to pursue it.
Although I've long known, generally speaking, what this movie is about, I
never saw it when it came out in 1983 or 1984, because I was too busy
"living" the 80's (yeah, right, whatever that means!). But I just saw it
recently, in its entirety, the other night on TV.
I don't know, maybe it's the current sorry state of affairs of the world today that made me want to watch this film, just so I could revisit the "happy days(?)" of the eighties, when, although the world was also in a sorry state of affairs, at least there was an underlying pretense of hope and glory, a pervasive (albeit childlike) adherence to the belief that wishes DO sometimes come true, miracles CAN happen, and for every ugly frog there IS a beautiful princess waiting to kiss him...
This movie sucks, bigtime... but it also rocks! And that, people, is the honest to God truth. This movie is so bad it reeks of the stench of the very phoney-baloney on which it is based (and we all know how awful THAT is). BUT, it also rocks you to your very soul, and hey, how can you possibly fault a movie that dares to offer people (and not just young people, but ALL people) that little thing called HOPE???
I hope you don't take my "critique" the wrong way... Honestly, I don't think the movie is really all that good, but the message, and the feeling, and the spirit of this movie, are all very wonderful and infectious indeed and should NOT be discounted. It makes it a wonderful movie. Strange, isn't it? If those of you reading this are parents with up-and-coming kids, make them sit through this film!! Make them watch it!! I guarantee you, at least there is not a single scene in it where some teenager just HAS to have sex with a baked pastry object!!
Finally, let me comment on the fact that many in filmdom have dissed Jennifer Beals over the fact that a stand-in dancer performed various or several of her dance segments. Well let me just mention, that at the very end of the film, in the credit roll, there is a disclaimer that states: "The people and events in this film are fictional. Any similarity to actual people or events is unintentional." So, with this in mind a stunt double performed some of the dance steps!?? I was shocked, shocked to find that stunt doubles are used in Hollywood!!
I just watched "Flashdance" for the first time since it came out and my
opinion has not mellowed over time. I dubbed it "Flashdunce" then and it
remains "Flashdunce" now, a film so lame, inconsequential and annoyingly
dumb that it actually made the comparably silly "Footloose" look like
"Singing in the Rain" by comparison. Actually, I'm being too hard on
"Footloose," since it actually had a plot, some interesting characters,
a point-of-view (to say nothing of a POINT), as opposed to the pointless
But then why should I be surprised? "Flashdance" was co-written by notorious flop-meister Joe Eszterhaus, who followed this up with the intelligent "Jagged Edge," then dropped such neutron bombs as "Basic Instinct," "Showgirls," and "An Allen Smithee Film: Burn Hollywood Burn" on an unsuspecting public. At least "Flashdance"'s seemingly untalented director Adrian Lyne went on to redeem himself with the "Play Misty for Me" rip-off "Fatal Attraction," to say nothing of "Lolita" and the superior Richard Gere-Diane Lane starrer "Unfaithful." Here he directs the nonexistent story as a serious of brain-numbing music videos, in which the lead actress (Jennifer Beals, who followed this up with an incredibly forgettable film career) is replaced by an obvious double in the dance sequences and then the audience treated like a bunch of idiots when the filmmakers denied a double was used and refused to give her credit for her obvious hard work. I have long contended that the incredible success of films like "Flashdance," which were written in crayon and cynically slapped together without a thought as to whether the plot makes sense or not, have led to the increasingly abysmal state of Hollywood films which are terribly written and forcefed to a braindead audience of Pavlovian dogs who are trained to drool and devour garbage like this.
Okay the plot: Beals is Alex, who dreams of a career as a serious dancer. She's only 18, yet she works as a welder by day and an exotic dancer by night. And by exotic dancer, I mean one that doesn't remove her clothes and gets no more dirty than dousing herself with water and shaking her fully-dressed booty at the audience. She ends up romancing her wealthy boss, helping out her loser collection of friends whenever she can, and visiting a little-old-lady friend who acts as a defacto grandmother to her. Can you see where this is going? Will Alex get an audition to the prestigious Pittsburgh Conservatory of Dance? Will she fall in love with the boss? Will he help her get an audition? Will she get mad at her meddling boyfriend/boss, even though she meddles in everyone else's life? Will she see him with his sister and jealously break up with him without even asking who he's with? Will "Grandma" die? Will she pass her audition? Do we care?
Incidentally, not once does the film answer the most obvious question: just what the hell is a flashdance anyway? And why did audiences care so much about so little? Even at 94 minutes the film seems padded. As for nightmare double features, imagine this: this film was eventually paired with another megabomb from 1983, the Sylvester Stallone-directed "Saturday Night Fever" sequel "Staying Alive," which was rightfully considered the worst film of 1983 ("Flashdance" being runner-up). Pity poor Cynthia Rhodes, the beautiful and talented ingenue who is best known for co-starring in the infinitely better "Dirty Dancing." She appeared in both "Flashdance" and "Staying Alive." Now, that's what I call a bad year. (no stars)
OK. Let's face it, folks - If you actually took away Flashdance's
"Giorgio Moroder"-driven soundtrack, as well as the impressive dance
sequences where the uncredited Marine Jahan doubled for Jennifer Beals
(who couldn't dance her way out of a wet, paper bag) - Then (Yes.
Indeed) this dull-edged story about an 18-year-old welder-cum-dancer
(Can you believe such a preposterous scenario as that?) would have been
a major flop-eroo like no other.
Released in 1983 to great fanfare - Flashdance was produced on a relatively modest budget of just $7 million. Yet. In its first year, alone, it actually grossed over $200 million, worldwide, at the box-office.
And, speaking about anyone seriously thinking about taking up welding as a means of employment - Believe me - It's definitely one of those super-unhealthy trades where one is up close and inhaling all sorts of noxious fumes and gases, non-stop. Yep. Being a welder will fry your brain in not time flat.
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