Xanadu (1980) (part 6 of 7)


So, apparently, that dance sequence must’ve have taken up the whole night, because it’s dawn when Sonny and Kira go outside. They make mushy love talk, with Sonny laying the L-word on her (no, not that L-word, come on, now), and they kiss. Again. My foot’s about to go through the screen, I tell you. But then Kira breaks away, saying, “We can’t go on pretending this is for real!” Sonny is baffled—and so am I. She’s a muse! She can make up any reality she wants, as we’ve already seen in graphic detail. Come on, Kira. Does turning into a cartoon bird ring any bells with you?

But Kira goes on to say that she “can’t have these kind of feelings.” Sonny doesn’t understand. Oh, but I do. It’s quite simple.

You see, in order to make a movie out of a plot this paper-thin, some artificial conflict needs to be inserted somewhere. That supposed drama with Sonny hating his job? That was nothing. It got resolved too quickly. So the filmmakers, having satisfied their need to become music video directors, are just now realizing they have a movie without any conflict whatsoever. So they better come up with something, fast!

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And so, Kira, who so far has been emanating all the personality of a rainbow-laden oil slick, suddenly has the burning need to tell Sonny all about herself. And Sonny, who was previously digging into her private life, and not more than three scenes ago was griping, “No questions, no truth,” does a complete 180. He says, “I know all I need to know.” Say what?

Kira insists that she needs to tell him, and then, in a very abrupt cut, they’re at Sonny’s place. The shutter wipe machine must be still twitching from epileptic shock. No longer her “cheerful” self, Kira tells Sonny that she was only sent to make Xanadu happen. She finally reveals that she’s a muse. Sonny deadpans, “I’m glad somebody’s having a good time.” No, Sonny. None of us are having a good time.

Kira goes on to tell him her history: “I come from Mount Helicon. I’m the daughter of Zeus. I have eight sisters. My real name is Ter—” and that’s as far as she gets before Sonny shuts her up by kissing her. Personally, I believe the writers did this intentionally. If they really did invoke the name “Terpsichore”, all of Mount Helicon would have materialized and delivered savage beatdowns to both of them.

Sonny pulls back to ask if that kiss was real. Kira says, “I’m trying to tell you the truth. Why don’t you believe me?” Gee, I don’t know, could it be because you’ve been so very forthcoming for the entire movie?

She then hands him a dictionary and tells him to look up the word “muse”. Oh, come on. Surely even Sonny knows what a muse is. He can’t be that dumb. Then again, this is the guy who rode a scooter off a pier at two miles an hour. Sonny humors her by reading the definition out loud, and it ends with the phrase, “And do you believe me now, Sonny?” Muses can insert words into books? This gives a whole new meaning to revisionist history! Put this girl to work for Joseph Stalin!

Caption contributed by LaShawn

moron (noun) see: Sonny Malone.

In an utterly unsurprised voice, Sonny asks how she did that. Kira then points to the TV and it turns on by itself. So now we’re down to cheap parlor tricks? Guess the special effects budget got cleaned out by the “shopping for glitz” musical montage. On the TV, a tuxedoed guy named Nick is being held at gunpoint by another guy in a fedora. Suddenly, Nick starts talking to Sonny directly. Sonny moves closer. “How can you be talking to me? You’re a movie!” Oh please. Earlier you turned into a cartoon fish. It’s way too late to start questioning this movie’s logic now.

Seeing that Sonny still doesn’t get it, Kira magically inserts herself into the movie, and waves at him. Sonny falls back, stunned. Nick goes, “I think he needs a drink.” Way ahead of you, Nick. The real Kira says she’ll take care of it, and if there were any living cells left in my brain, they would wonder how Kira can be both inside and outside of the TV in the same shot. Nick wishes Sonny good luck on the opening of Xanadu, and Kira shuts the TV off.

Caption contributed by LaShawn

You just can’t have too many Olivia Newton-Johns.

Kira consoles a shell-shocked Sonny. “We’re not supposed to feel emotion or show any feelings [bang-up job so far, Kira]. Muses are just supposed to inspire.” Yuh-huh. You certainly had no problems playing with Danny’s feelings, and he has a zillion times more talent than Sonny.

Sonny shoots back with a well-earned, “Well, what do you think happened to me?” She replies, “It was a mistake. I broke the rules.” Oh, okay, then. That makes it all better. Luckily for Kira, I’m far too polite to call her a certain word. That, and a lot of my brain cells have died, so I can’t really remember the word in the first place.

However, that very word must be going through Sonny’s mind, because he pulls away from her. “Well, what the hell do we do now? Answer that, muse!” Kira attempts to apologize, while Sonny stands by the window in a huff. Or maybe he’s checking on his car. It’s kind of hard to tell by his tone of voice.

Kira sadly goes to the stairs, and it dawns on Sonny she’s leaving. She gives him one final “I love you forever”, and whoosh! Up she goes in a glowing special effect! Leaving Sonny standing there with a dumbstruck… uh, lovelorn… er… oh, who am I kidding? It’s his usual, blank, slightly bewildered look that he’s been wearing for the whole movie.

Caption contributed by LaShawn

“You want me to do what with that pointed stick?”

Oh look, the shutter wipe machine is working again. What a relief. We’re back on the beach, and Danny casually strolls over to the rocks where he and Sonny first met. Sonny is sitting there, being his normal, grumpy, whiny, moody self. But you know what? I prefer this Sonny over the lovey-dovey, moony, kissy-face one. How sad is that?

Danny says that everyone will miss him tonight at the grand opening. Sonny grumbles, “I told you, I can’t go. Xanadu doesn’t matter anymore!”

He whines, “There’s no Xanadu, ’cause there’s no Kira. She made it real.” And this would be the perfect spot to end the movie. Really. I’d have no problems with the credits rolling over Sonny sitting on the beach, growing older, and moping about a lost love. Unfortunately, Danny tells Sonny to find Kira and bring her back. Sadly, this means the movie must contain more scenes where… stuff happens. And not very interesting stuff, either.

Then comes an exchange of dialogue that’s supposed to be pivotal, but just sounds idiotic, even coming from Gene Kelly:

Sonny: Dreams die.
Danny: No. No, no, no. Not by themselves. We—we kill them. Now if you give up, you’ll be sitting on that rock thirty years from now just like I was. I know how you feel, kid. I felt the same way once. I did. I didn’t know how important love is. But let me tell you something. Somehow, somewhere, there’s a way to get her! If she got here, there’s a way to get there! Believe me, kid, it’s up to you. It’s—it’s up to you.

So, let me get this straight. Instead of telling Sonny to snap out of it, and be a man, and go to the damn opening of his own club, he instead tells Sonny to go chase after a woman? The same woman who ditched him thirty years ago? And if that’s not enough, the whole “if she got here, there’s a way to get there” crap very intentionally sets up Sonny’s actions in the next scene, which are even more idiotic.

Caption contributed by LaShawn

“If you love her/need her/want to, got to, have her, child/ Great God in heaven, you gotta get her!”

Fade to Sonny skating down a busy street while ELO’s “The Fall” pulses in the background. I actually like this song here—it sets the mood pretty well. And this street looks like any ordinary street, with real people walking along, minding their own business. No freaks with purple or blue spiked hair, or girls in insanely short shorts, or weird spidermen, for a change. Just Sonny, skating down the sidewalk and brooding. Or going over a grocery list in his head, who knows. He passes by an alley, and stops and squints. The camera changes to show what he’s looking at and—hey, what do you know? It’s the Nine Muses Mural from the beginning of the movie! Who’d have thought he’d come to this mural at this point in time, huh?

Caption contributed by LaShawn

It must suck when bums are peeing on your girlfriend.

Sonny skates up to the mural and traces his hands around what’s presumably Kira. Oddly, the once realistic painting of Olivia Newton-John now looks just as indistinct as the other women in the mural. So don’t ask me how he recognizes her. He skates away a good distance, then turns to stare at the mural. Yep, still there.

He makes as if to leave, then looks back again. The mural says, “Yes, I’m still here. Go away.” But there’s a close up of his squinting eyes. Uh-oh. I think there’s at least one itty-bitty gear starting to turn at the very back of his head…

Caption contributed by LaShawn

“There’s just one question I gotta ask ya—Do you feel stupid, punk?”

Cut to the mural, focusing on Kira’s blurred shape. Then Sonny takes off, skating towards the mural at maximum speed, and at the very last second, he… flies right into it?

This is so wrong, so stupendously wrongity-wrong, I can’t think of any decent words to describe it. What kind of crack did Sonny take to come up with “mural + speed skating = gateway to Mount Helicon”? How did he know Kira came out of this very mural? For that matter, how did Sonny recognize that woman on the mural as being Kira in the first place? He’s never even seen this mural before! Unless… wait. Was he the one who painted it in the first place? That would make his earlier line, about painting “somebody else’s mural” as a freelancer, almost make some kind of… sense. Or something.

But if that’s the case, then why didn’t he recognize Kira right off the bat? Did he conveniently forget about the mural until now? Did Kira pull some sort of Jedi mind trick on him? And don’t tell me it’s just a “musical fantasy”—I’ve seen paint-by-number fantasies that are more believable than this.

Well, you know what? I can make up stuff, too. Here’s my theory: Sonny didn’t really enter the mural at all. Instead, he flew headfirst into the wall, knocked himself silly, and is now having an out-of-body experience while he bleeds all over the pavement. See? Logical and hilarious! Suck on that, “musical fantasy”!

LaShawn Wanak

When not burying her face in a book or wiping snot off her preschooler, LaShawn can often be found hunched over her laptop, churning out short stories and cackling madly. She likens bad movies to fried twinkies--greasy, fattening, full of empty calories, and very, very addictive.

Multi-Part Article: Xanadu (1980)

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