Oh my. Where do I begin? There’s nothing redeeming in watching this over-expensive piece of fluff. Except perhaps to chuckle at the many scatterbrained moments involving The Village People. Along with Valerie Perrine, Steve Guttenberg—and yes, the Kardashian dad himself: a young and quite dashing Bruce Jenner—the group sole venture into films is nothing to shout about. But boy, what a way to go. That is, if you can stand two hours of overexposed bonbons shaking. On the heels of making it big with GREASE, producer Allan Carr decided to bring to the forefront this celebrated disco sextet who’s popularity was already waning before the musical comedy even got released. That, along with its overall awfulness didn’t help at the box office. Indeed, the film tanked so much that it is still considered to be one of the biggest bombs to ever grace our screens, and with good reasons. Starting with the director of choice: Nancy Walker.
If you recall, this short lady used to be a celebrated comedienne, playing, among other things, Rhoda’s mom in the self-titled classic sitcom. People can also remember her later on as Sophia’s feisty sister in NBC’s The Golden Girls. Why did Carr choose her to be at the helm of this flick? Who knows? But one thing’s for sure: she’s either a lousy director or is the greatest thing to ever happen since Orson Wells, depending to whom you talk. I personally think she was on the verge of senility. There is no other explanation for what we’re seeing. Grant you, after catching Carr’s remake of WHERE THE BOYS ARE a few years later, I’m starting to wonder who’s really to blame. I mean, have you seen that one too? Talk about horrible. I nominate it for a full blown blog entry as well. But back to our topic at hand. I sure didn’t expect it to be this bad, but it was. And not really fun bad. Just plain bad bad. And there’s a limit to my loving this type of shit, really.
The plot—if you can call it that—centers around the making of the Village People. Guttenberg plays this wet behind the ears songwriter who, besides having an impressive bulge, just can’t stand still when it comes to his career. He wants to make it big, and along with curvy roommate Perrine, who’s a former fashion model turned partner with connections, eventually gets there. And that includes kneeling on the floor while taking Jenner’s pants off (don’t ask). Contrary to that last part, it takes time for Guttenberg to assemble our six spotlighted gentlemen but when he does we are treated (?) with plenty of gay-oriented moments such as the YMCA music clip involving many boys in different states of undress. When male bodies aren’t the sole focus, you can actually taste other avenues such as awful dialogues and situations and a slew of dumber characters after the next (sorry, demure Barbara Rush who plays Jenner’s mom). Yes, all should be taken with a grain of salt but the slapstick here is just as awful and embarrassing as the off-pitched solo performance of the construction worker who, seconds before, claimed to have had talent.
Am I too hard on this flick? Absolutely not. You really have to see it to believe it. It seems to have become a cult favorite over the years. Perhaps, but this then-15 year old in the closet gay boy who had first seen and enjoyed the flick back in the day can honestly tell you that, contrary to him, it has not aged well. I suggest that you lower your expectations or be high as a kite before ever putting the film into your DVD slot. Otherwise you’ll be left with your mouth agape the whole time wondering why you couldn’t make better use of it.
Until next time—Martin