5.2/10
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296 user 46 critic

Xanadu (1980)

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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
4,761 ( 452)
1 win & 9 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 - his job to do poster-sized exact renderings of album covers for on-site promotions, the renderings to be as close to the originals as possible - 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 the thoughts of a young woman who literally roller skates into him. What he is unaware of is that their initial encounter and subsequent encounters are not by accident as she, Kira, a muse, was awakened by his lamentations about his art, she sent to help him achieve his artistic vision. This day, Sonny also meets aging Danny McGuire, a former big band musician turned construction company owner, he who wants to return to his roots by owning a live music venue. Danny initially and Sonny also do not know that their meeting is not by accident as Sonny will soon discover that Kira was part of his past. Sonny... Written by Huggo

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

In Xanadu a golden goddess did decree... Welcome to your own musical fantasy. See more »


Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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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, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$22,762,571
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Universal Pictures See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

4-Track Stereo (London premiere Print)| Dolby

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Olivia Newton-John met Matt Lattanzi, who had a minor role, during filming. Afterward Lattanzi accompanied her to Australia on a promotional visit for the film and met her parents. Lattanzi and John married in 1984, had one child, Chloe Lattanzi, and divorced in 1995. See more »

Goofs

When Sonny quits his job, the shadow of the boom mic is bobbing in the top left of the screen. See more »

Quotes

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

"THE END" comes up on the screen, in big old fashioned letters, before the end credits. See more »

Alternate Versions

The 1994 VHS release shows the MPAA rating as "GP," but all other releases show the rating as "PG." See more »

Connections

Referenced in Saturday Night Live: Olivia Newton-John (1982) See more »

Soundtracks

Magic
Performed by Olivia Newton-John
Words and Music by John Farrar
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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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