Pass the Popcorn: Xanadu

Nice leg-warmers

Bad movie, but nice leg-warmers

(Guest Post by Matthew Ladner)

So all the movies I’ve seen lately have been in the fair to mediocre or worse categories, so let’s try something different with the greatest they’re so bad that they are great films. Holding down the number one seed in the Eastern bracket: Xanadu.

Where does one even start in describing the horrible greatness of Xanadu? Perhaps with the plot, such as it is? Okay, why not?

So there is this frustrated album cover artist who tears up a sketch and throws it out the window. The wind takes the pieces across town to a mural of the Twelve Muses, who magically come to life to the sounds of the Electric Light Orchestra!

After dancing around a bit, the Olivia Newton John muse roller-skates off to help her frustrated artist find love and set up a roller disco with the help of Gene Kelly. Along the way there are a few dream sequences, random incidences of characters bursting into song and transforming into animated characters, and a confrontation with the gods of the ancient Greek pantheon.

Totally inexplicable animation sequence complete with ELO tune!

Totally inexplicable animation sequence complete with ELO tune!

Okay, so this is my guess on how this movie got made. Grease had just made a fortune, but John Travolta was off making another contender for this category Urban Cowboy. The Hollywood guys said, “okay, get ONJ, make up a plot involving roller-disco, don’t sweat the details. That guy from The Warriors can be the lead. No not the ‘Warrrriors!!! Come out to play-ay!’ guy, the strong silent type lead guy! He’s perrrfect for a musical!”

“Oh, and call Gene Kelly and get him out of retirement! Someone in this movie has to be able to dance!”

Words cannot describe what happened next, but in their place, I offer the super-duper unbelievably something final scene from Xanadu. Enjoy if you dare:

6 Responses to Pass the Popcorn: Xanadu

  1. Brian Kisida says:

    Awesome. The Jeff Lynne influence really makes these songs work.

  2. matthewladner says:


    There is no doubt that ELO were the unsung heroes of Xanadu. I’d be curious to know whether Jeff Lynne prefers it to be that way now. 🙂

  3. Why isn’t Olivia Neutron Bomb, er, I mean Newton John, on roller skates for the finale? Everything’s better on roller skates. Maybe we should have education conferences on rollerskates. Even better, how about having schools where everyone is on roller skates?

  4. Rob O. says:

    This is one of those guilty pleasures that you keep tucked away in the deep, dark corner of your guy brain, never to be admitted in front of any of your buds, lest you sacrifice nearly every last shred of man-cred you ever had. You’d be hard-pressed to salvage your rep by saying that you only watch it because ONJ was hot – and she was! But maybe, just maybe, it’d help to mention that one of the muses was Sandahl Bergman, who went on to play the hottie warrior chick “Valeria” in Conan the Barbarian a coupla years later…

    But that danged infectious ELO music just roots right into your lower monkey brain and you can’t help but tap your toes. Hard to believe Jeff Lynne hasn’t cranked much of anything out since the Willburys.

    Thank goodness Michael Beck stopped trying to do movies after this!

  5. Rob-

    I’m going with the ironic distance technique in order to keep my man-card. I hope that all of you are buying it 🙂

  6. Awesome. makes these songs work….

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