5.2/10
11,720
323 user 57 critic

Xanadu (1980)

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1:56 | Trailer
A struggling artist living in Los Angeles meets a girl who may hold the key to his happiness.

Director:

Robert Greenwald
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Popularity
4,251 ( 126)
1 win & 10 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Olivia Newton-John ... Kira
Gene Kelly ... Danny McGuire
Michael Beck ... Sonny Malone
James Sloyan ... Simpson
Dimitra Arliss ... Helen
Katie Hanley Katie Hanley ... Sandra
Fred McCarren ... Richie
Renn Woods ... Jo (as Ren Woods)
Sandahl Bergman ... Muse #1
Lynn Latham Lynn Latham ... Muse #2
Melinda Phelps Melinda Phelps ... Muse #3
Cherise Bates Cherise Bates ... Muse #4 (as Cherise Bate)
Juliette Marshall Juliette Marshall ... Muse #5
Marilyn Tokuda Marilyn Tokuda ... Muse #6
Yvette Van Voorhees Yvette Van Voorhees ... Muse #7
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Storyline

In Los Angeles, artist Sonny Malone reluctantly returns to his job at Airflow Records--doing poster-sized exact-as-possible renderings of album covers for on-site promotions--as he could not make a living as a freelance artist, where he could truly use his artistic vision. On his first day back at Airflow, he gets sidetracked by thoughts of a young woman who literally rollerskates into him. He's unaware that their initial encounter and subsequent encounters are not accident: she is Kira, a muse who was awakened by his lamentations about his art and sent to help him achieve his artistic vision. Later that day he meets aging Danny McGuire, a former big-band musician turned construction-company owner who wants to return to his roots by owning a live music venue. This meeting too is no accident; Sonny soon discovers that Kira was part of Danny's past. Sonny and Danny achieving their dreams is threatened by Kira knowingly breaking the rules. Written by Huggo

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Where time stops and the magic never ends. See more »


Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Famously received the one sentence review: "In a word, Xana-don't". See more »

Goofs

In the opening shots of the "All Over the World" sequence, outside the entrance to the clothing boutique, the mannequin furthest from the camera shouts out counts to keep the dancers together. The only audio heard at that point is the prerecorded song, but his lips are very clearly moving. See more »

Quotes

Kira: I'm not as I appear to you.
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Crazy Credits

The spaceship shown in the Universal Logo was also used on the Quinn Martin Series, The Invaders. See more »

Alternate Versions

The original theatrical release uses the 1963 Universal logo at the end and then shows the PG rating slide. The 1994 VHS release (while retaining the Universal logo at the end), strangely replaces the PG rating slide with a GP rating slide (the original name for the PG rating from 1969 to 1972). The 1999 DVD restores the proper PG rating slide, however the 1963 Universal logo is removed. The 2008 DVD restores both the 1963 Universal logo and the original PG rating slide, making it a more accurate representation of the original theatrical release. See more »


Soundtracks

Whenever You're Away From Me
Performed by Olivia Newton-John and Gene Kelly
Words and Music by John Farrar
Whistling by Lou Halmy (uncredited)
Arranged by Richard Hewson (uncredited)
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User Reviews

 
I hope you like your musicals extra-cheesy
26 April 2005 | by mentalcriticSee all my reviews

Xanadu, which has received some scathing one-sentence reviews, flopped in a big way at the box office, and even helped inspire the creation of the Razzies, is underrated. Not as underrated as that statement would normally imply, but enough. The reason why it is underrated is similar to the reason why it stinks. Xanadu consists of two parts, each of which can be divided into two parts depending on how successful each scene making up those two parts are.

The first part is all dialogue, in which Michael Beck, Gene Kelly, Olivia Newton-John, or combinations thereof, spend a lot of screen time talking about the importance of following one's dreams. The success of this part of the film depends largely on how tightly integrated it is with the musical part. When the male leads discuss music in particular, it starts to fall flat as the artistic sentiment of a bygone era tries unsuccessfully to gel with the lowest-common-denominator mentality of what was then the present. The music sequences that fit in with this rule tend to suffer a lot, too. The attempt to blend a 1940s jazz band with Electric Light Orchestra, who were never really that representative of any culture, even those of the 1980s, is especially embarrassing. It dates the whole film beyond return.

On the other hand, when the musical and dialogue sequences are not connected to one another, they work so well. Michael Beck's dialogues with the supporting cast about how his dreams of artistic freedom failed are brilliantly executed. The dialogue between Beck and Kelly in which the latter basically tells the former that quitting now will leave him with a lifetime of regret is pure gold. The conversation in which Beck's and Newton-John's characters argue with the voices of the gods, performed by Wilfrid Hyde-White and Coral Browne, works wonderfully in spite of the ludicrous costume on Beck. But the real gem in this flick is the climactic rollerdisco scene. I don't know how long it took them to coordinate and stage this myriad of sequences, but the result was worth every bit of effort.

Unfortunately, the film is not without its problems. Many sequences are either boring or outright ludicrous. The animated part in particular fails to fit in with the rest of the film. Major rewrites began close to production as the producers tried to distinguish the production from other rollerskating-themed films of the time. According to Olivia Newton-John, the film was literally being written as it was shot, and nowhere does this show more than in the final musical sequences of the aforementioned rollerdisco scene. It was as if the makers decided to put in as many shots of Olivia singing and dancing in as many costumes as they could. Perhaps the problem was in the editing, as the aforementioned on-the-spot writing would have caused a problem with knowing exactly when to call it over. Truth be told, it does stretch a little past its welcome, if only by a few minutes. But then, show me a film that is not guilty of the same offense, and I will show you a masterpiece.

Truth be told, this film is nowhere near as bad as the IMDb rating would have you believe. It is not all that good, either, but it gets a little bit more right than wrong. Compared to excruciatingly bad musicals that take themselves far too seriously, such as the recent Chicago adaptation, this is pure gold. Hence, in spite of a lot of problems, I rated Xanadu a seven out of ten. It is a real guilty pleasure of a film, and really needed more time in pre-production, but it is entertaining for more than half of its running time, which is more than I can say for a lot of other films. Especially of this genre.


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Frequently Asked Questions

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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

8 August 1980 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Xanadu See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$20,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$1,471,595, 10 August 1980

Gross USA:

$22,762,571

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$22,762,571
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Universal Pictures See more »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

4-Track Stereo (London premiere Print)| Dolby

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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