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Film / Can't Stop the Music

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Can't Stop the Music is a 1980 American musical comedy film that is a pseudo-biography of the Village People, which bears only a vague resemblance to the actual story of the group's formation. It was directed by Nancy Walker and written by Bronte Woodard and Allan Carr.

Samantha "Sam" Simpson (Valerie Perrine), a supermodel newly retired at the peak of her success, sees the response to a song her roommate, songwriter Jack Morell (Steve Guttenberg) wrote for her and agrees to use her connections to get him a record deal. Her connection is her ex-boyfriend Steve Waits (Paul Sand), president of Marrakech Records, who is more interested in rekindling their romantic relationship than in Jack's music (and more interested in taking business calls than in wooing Samantha), but agrees to listen to a demo. Sam decides Jack's vocals are not adequate, so she recruits members of what would eventually become the Village People. Meanwhile, she meets Ron White (Caitlyn Jenner), a lawyer from St. Louis who agrees to help her with the enterprise.

Can't Stop the Music is notorious for being the first winner of the Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Picture, for it was a double feature of this and Xanadu that inspired its founder John "J. B." Wilson to start the Razzies.

This film contains examples of:

  • The '80s: The movie stands at the nexus between '70s cheese and '80s cheese.
  • Adapted Out: The group's actual original lead singer, Victor Willis, had left and is thus ignored by the plot... and yet his vocals are still heard in some tracks, specially "Y.M.C.A."
  • Adaptational Nationality: Jack Morrell is a stand-in for French producer Jacques Morali.
  • Big Applesauce: The Village People are from Greenwich Village, so of course the film is set in New York, and opens with an ode to the town, "The Sound of the City".
  • But Not Too Gay: Perhaps the earliest form of "queerbaiting" in that the movie can't have more than five seconds of homoerotic titillation without reminding the audience that the Village People are most certainly attracted to women.
  • Camp: This being an early '80s musical makes it a given, then add to that that it's a fictionalized account of the origins of the Village People.
  • Celebrity Paradox: Steve Waits, the fictional record producer who reluctantly gives the Village People a record deal at one point angrily screams "Who ya think I am?! Neil Bogart?!" In real life, Bogart became a success by popularizing disco by signing acts like The Village People and Donna Summer.
  • Dull Surprise: Ron seems rather unfazed by anything, which looks to be less because of a character trait and more because of the usual lack of expression former athletes (like his actor Caitlyn Jenner) have when they attempt to act.
  • Foot Popping: An odd example: In the photo-novelization of the movie, there is a picture of Sam foot-popping while she kisses Ron. In the actual movie, Sam and Ron are shown only from the waist up.
  • Jewish Mother: Jack eventually resorts to bring his own mother to negotiate a contract with Steve. She eventually wins him with her kreplach!
  • Mr. Fanservice: Ron is clearly in the film as masculine fanservice, what with the T-shirts several sizes too small for him, the hotpants, losing his pants after spilling lasagna on them, actually having Shirtless Scenes...
  • Ms. Fanservice: For a Village People-inspired movie that features the fanservice described above with Ron, Valerie Perrine also appears in lingerie, and even nude at the YMCA's locker room. Who knew that a Village People-inspired musical would also follow modern day rom-coms' rule of "throw a bone to guys taken to this by their girlfriends"?
  • The Musical
  • Non-Actor Vehicle: For the Village People and Olympic gold medalist Caitlyn Jenner; the former also overlaps with Autobiographical Role.
  • One-Book Author: This was the only film directed by Nancy Walker. She'd been a theater, film, and television star since The '40s and had been nominated for two Tonys, four Golden Globes and eight Emmys.
  • Roman Clef: Some elements of the Village People's background get only slightly tweaked in the film. Songwriter Jack Morell is a reference to Village People creator Jacques Morali, and Marrakech Records, the record label they sign on with, is a sendoff to their label Casablanca Records.
  • Titled After the Song: "Can't Stop the Music" is the song performed during the final scene.