By the time this movie came out, the Village People bubble was almost over. Many critics blamed Can’t Stop The Music for hastening the death of disco but that seems a little unfair. Although it was without doubt one of the worst films of its time, you may have left the cinema shaking your head at the memory but you also left with a smile on your face.
The Village People were really just cartoon characters dressed up in human form… and perhaps that is the real failing of this epic musical, it should have been done by Walt Disney… or Hanna Barbera. The human cast made a hash of the dubious script (even the professional actors, of which there were few) seemed out of their depth and with a mish mash style of influences from TV, film and theatre by director Nancy Walker, the end result is a colourful splurge on the big screen. Indeed, it was this film that “won” the very first RAZZIE award for Worst Picture and is listed among the 100 Most Enjoyably Bad Movies Ever Made in Golden Raspberry Award founder John Wilson’s book The Official Razzie® Movie Guide. This alone makes CSTM a must for all movie buffs or those who just can’t get the rhythm of YMCA out of their heads.
The Village People were created for a gay audience but found that their music and style appealed to everyone. Making a movie that would appeal across the board was, back in 80s America, a tall order… perhaps this is the reason it failed on most fronts. However, the film did have its high points: Besides the often unintentional humour of the script there is a visual feast in the reworking of perhaps the VP’s most influential number ‘YMCA’. There’s also the epic ode to milk, with a chorus line and production for the song ‘Milkshake’ that probably took most of the movie’s budget.
With 30 years separating us from this musical ‘classic’ we can now revisit it and enjoy it for what it is – the best bit of over-the-top campery ever filmed. Grab a bottle or two (you might need them) and settle down in front of the TV for a fun night of almost sexless Village People music and dance. I doubt if it will make you feel hot under the collar but it should bring a smile to your face and who knows… perhaps it’s time for this Milkshake to bring all the boys to the yard!