I loves 80s movies. Some of my faves include the Rocky series number 3 and 4. Not only are the storylines in those films solid and applicable to so many areas of my life, but they contain some great writing, acting, and some of my favorite people (Mr. T stands out). I also love Ghostbusters, Predator I, Star Wars: Return Of The Jedi, ET, Raiders of the Lost Ark, The Princess Bride, Back To The Future, Chariots of Fire, and a slew of others. But there are some 80’s hit movies that I’ve never seen. Feris Bueller’s Day Off is one I’ve never seen all the way through. I should remedy that. I have seen Dirty Dancing, my wife loves it. It’s just alright for me. I prefer Roadhouse, which is awesome and proof that Patrick Swayze is a bad dude. Until a few days ago, I’d never seen Flashdance. So this post is all about that experience.
It came down to a choice as my wife and I sat on our couch to decide upon a night-time film: Invictus or Flashdance. I’ve really wanted to see Invictus for a long time and it was finally available at the library. Morgan Freeman is one of my all-time favorite actors and seeing his portrayal of Nelson Mandela is something I’ve wanted to see for a while. But we ended up checking out Flashdance, the 80’s hit dance film. My wife told me that a few months ago there was some sort of reunion with the stars of Flashdace, namely Jennifer Beals, on some daytime talk show and the people in attendance (excuse me, the women in attendance), were freaking out. This has been hailed as one of the best dance movies ever. I didn’t really know what to expect. I wasn’t thinking it would be a riveting drama built on a great storyline. And for the most part that was right. Was it an outstanding film? To me, not at all. Dirty Dancing was a much better dance film, better acting, better story, and much better writing. But what Flashdance did provide was over an hour of solid laughs.
This is one of those films that Mystery Science Theater 3000, or now Riff-Tracks should do. It’s so unintentionally humorous that you could rate it in the top 100 funny movies of all time, if you were so inclined. I’ll do what I can to remember the unintentional funny parts or aspects. First, the opening of the film follows a girl riding a bike, then moves straight to a construction site. There are tons of workers welding stuff, crews moving around, and finally stopping on one welder, who takes after removing the helmet reveals the lead actress. All the while there’s an unending amount of credits running and the title song of “What A Feeling.” The lead in was way too much welding stuff. Then the movie jump-cuts to a dance club, or exotic club. The club made no sense to me. I didn’t grow up in Pittsburgh in the 1980s, but you have this burger restaurant that also has a stage where attractive women dance provacatively to 80s rock, doing amazing routines and some over-the-top stuff. It was the mix of two types of venues that threw me off. Anyhow, Beals rides around the entire movie on her bicycle, never uses a lock to tie it up when she gets to her destination, and runs around by her self in some dangerous places. “Is this Pittsburgh?” I kept asking my wife. We’d laugh because Pittsburgh has never been a really safe place, and especially in the crowds where Beals’ character is frequenting, she’d need a bit more protection. That was never addressed.
Beals ends up getting romantically involved with her boss at the welding firm (played by Michael Nouri), who just so happens to have connections in the high-arts dancing circle which helps her out later. But he acts more like her father through most of their relationship, which was another source for us to make up lines for him. He sucks at trying to ask her out, as well as just get from point A to B. It was a ton of laughs in those scenes. The writing for his conversations with Beals is the polar opposite of what I wrote about last week with the dialogue writing in Michael Clayton. Beals and Nouri have a little pow-wow towards the end after Nouri pulls some strings to get Beals an audition at a dance university. She’d been promising this older woman she would apply but hadn’t because she was insecure about her lack of dance schooling. So Nouri provides her with something she couldn’t have on her own and she gets offended, they have a verbal arguement on the worksite in front of the other welders. It was a very comical exchange, and that’s totally the fault of the writers. Here’s why.
We watch all movies with subtitles, regardless of whether the spoken dialogue is English or not. This is something I got from my friend Larry. This way you never miss what someone says. There are times in all movies where either an actor will mumble their lines, speak so softly you can’t hear, or will say something that doesn’t make sense. Instead of trying to rewind the film and re-listen to what you miss, you never miss something this way. It also is an easter-egg you get without special features because it essentially puts the screenplay on the screen for you. You see the way the lines are written and when the actor adds something to the words up there, you can see the actor’s ability or talent in inserting more of the character into the scene. So when the lines are on the screen and you see the actors trying to say them with meaning or realism, and it fails, you can see why. This verbal exchange with Beals and Nouri was funnier than hell, because it was so poorly written and the actors couldn’t do anything about it. Add to the fact that my wife and I have been adding dialogue to their characters in a MST3000 fashion for the past hour, it was just so much better. The film jumps from scene to scene with horrible transition. Scratch that, no transitions. We end up calling the movie “Jump Cut” for this reason.
I would not encourage viewing this movie if you want to see an actual drama with a great story that moves you in any emotional way. The film is full of tons of 80s hit rock songs that were one-hit wonders. It’s one positive element I did like. But it builds up the stories for the supporting cast and then leaves them before you find our how their story will end. The cook at the restaurant who is striving to be a comedian leaves PA to go to LA and comes back, and wants to hook up with a dancer at the club. But she’s been bought by this sleezy guy running a strip joint. The girl escapes the strip joint gig thanks to Beals, but what happens to her? We don’t get to see. Beals is a great dancer, but is a pretty loose girl, as she showcases in her dialogue and behavior. She’s not a great actress, but the cameraman director seem to only want to showcase the lower half of her body most of the film. Don’t know why that is. Suffice to say that if you want a funny film and would enjoy making fun of a “classic” film, this is not a bad pick. If you want something more, you might want to go with something else.