“This is the 80s,” says Valerie Perrine to someone over the phone. “Things are different now.” Right she was and one of the very first things that the new decade did to prove its independence was to toss that glittery emblem of the cocaine and free love 70s—DISCO—right on the trash heap. And this movie was one of the first casualties, grossing an anemic 3 million dollars at the box office only 36 months after Saturday Night Fever raked in $240 million. You gotta strike while the iron’s hot.
Still, 30+ years later this movie is a cult favorite. What can you say about a flick whose most accomplished actor is Bruce Jenner? Hell, his cut-off jeans shorts alone deserve a place in the Smithsonian. He exudes a genuine decency and likability throughout, and although the “love scene” between him and Perrine seems to be documenting the naive fumbling and nervous joking of two 14 year olds rather than the unleashed passions of full-grown adults, it fits in with the upbeat, child-like sweetness of the movie as a whole. Steve Guttenberg, on the other hand, only manages to shoot off beams of anti-charisma like some Studio 54 laser show run amok.
The Village People themselves seem like pretty cool guys, though, and although none of them really get to do much that is blatantly gay beyond prancing around in outrageous costumes, there’s no denying that Glenn Hughes’s Leatherman makes a great role model.
The script is one of the worst ever written, full of frivolous exchanges that push the narrative forward in ways most scriptwriters would never have the guts to think of. Some examples:
Jack: I don’t have anything to write my lyrics on, we ran out of paper.
Samantha: Use a paper napkin
Jack: Oh, right, good idea.
Samantha: Felipe, could you bring the rainbow wheel out back for me?
Felipe: Ok see you later, I gotta go shower and get ready to go to the club.
Jack: Ok, I’ll see you there.
In its defense, the movie does drag itself out of its morass of general incompetence for 4 brilliant musical minutes when the band perform their hit “YMCA” inside that very building itself. C’mon, name me one other PG-rated movie where you can see a bunch of soaped-up ding-dongs and Valerie Perrine’s cross-eyed floppies in rapid succession? Groundbreaking!