The film details the story of Alphie and Bibi, a pair of musicians in the far off future of 1994 who compete in an international music competition. Despite being the most talented group there, the Boogalow International Music Group (known as BIM) rig the contest to ensure their own band featuring Pandi and Dandi succeeds instead. In spite of their loss, Mr. Boogalow tries to sign the two of them to his label anyway, enticing Bibi into a life of sinful rock and roll that is also slowly corrupting all of humanity. Bibi's popularity allows BIM to eventually take over the entire planet as Alphie struggles to get her away from Mr. Boogalow's diabolical control.
One of Cannon Films' first English-language efforts, in trying to capitalize on the success of Saturday Night Fever and Grease its outlandish premise winds up having more in common with Brave New World, Nineteen Eighty-Four, All That Jazz and Xanadu, with a little Godspell thrown in hastily at the last minute. In addition to having a very complicated and troubled production, it proved a major financial and critical flop, concurrent with the sharp decline of Disco.
Despite some rather heart-pumping music and dance numbers, the prosaic lyrics, trippy aesthetic and off-the-wall script place it squarely in Camp territory. However, starting with its DVD release in 2004, it began to gather a small but dedicated cult following and started appearing on the midnight circuit, especially thanks to regular showings by the Alamo Drafthouse. It was also released in 2012 as a Rifftrax video-on-demand download with their hilarious riffing commentary added.
This film contains examples of:
- 20 Minutes into the Future: Made in 1979-80, set in the future dystopia of 1994. Originally to be set in 1984 for obvious reasons, but Golan decided that such a date was far too close by to feel futuristic enough and pushed it ahead by ten more years.
- Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence: The fate of the hippies in the end. See The Ending Changes Everything below.
- Badass Boast: The last line of the film, when Boogalow insists that no world can exist without him:Mr. Topps: Let's give it a try.
- Big Bad: Mr. Boogalow, the least subtle analog to Satan ever.
- Big Good: Mr. Topps who reveals himself in the closing moments of the film to be the obvious God counterpart.
- Camp: It's hard to classify this film as anyone else given its outrageous fashion, insane dance numbers, and everyone in the film giving the most ridiculously over-the-top performances committed to celluloid.
- Canada, Eh?: Downplayed with Alphie and Bibi, who are revealed to be originally from Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, but you wouldn't tell from them, as there isn't anything that looks stereotypically Canadian from them.
- Canned Orders over Loudspeaker: The setup for the Dark Reprise of "BIM (BIM's on the Way)". "It is now one minute to four o'clock. Time to stop ordinary activities and prepare for the National BIM Hour. (...) The National Fitness Program is watching you. Five, four, three, two, BIM."note
- Corrupt the Cutie: BIM's efforts to control Bibi.
- Depraved Bisexual: Shakes and, implicitly, Mr. Boogalow as well.
- Deus ex Machina: A-near literal example with Mr. Topps, who is not only a seemingly all-powerful Messianic Archetype, but is never mentioned until moments before he arrives to rescue the heroes.
- Driven to Suicide: Alphie almost gives fully into this trope according to his landlord after his first attempt to convince Bibi to stop working for Boogalow fails. Of course whether he actually intended to do so or not is, like so many things in this film, unclear.
- The Dragon: An almost literal example with Shakes to Mr. Boogalow, who even appears at several points in a flamboyant snake costume to hammer into your head what Biblical allegory he is.
- The Ending Changes Everything: In the climax, Mr. Topps - never mentioned until minutes before his arrival - appears in a Rolls Royce and takes all hippies to heaven or a new planet (or both). This means: 1.) Up to this point, you could interpret this film as anti-commerce message when Bibi is corrupted by Boogalow's business but is not necessarily a stand-in for hippy culture. With this ending, it completely takes sides in favor of the hippies and portrays them and their love/peace-cause as unambiguously good. 2.) All of Alphie's visions are to be taken literally (Boogalow is not metaphorically that devil but literally, Bibi does not take the forbidden fruit metaphorically but literally etc.) 3.) Alphie and Bibi are no longer the main characters but the hippies - not introduced until the third act and receiving next to no character development or being spotlighted on their culture - are and get an eschatological meaning. A sequence where Mr. Topps creates the world and Boogalow falls from grace as a prologue was planned, but abandoned due to production troubles (according to The Other Wiki, involving a tiger escaping from the set.)
- Evil Brit: Bibi's bodyguards/captors are the thuggish, Cockney-esque type, right down to being played by British actors.
- Fire and Brimstone Hell: An entire (imagined) musical number takes place there. Compared to the hippy commune of Paradise, it seems quite pleasant.
- God Was My Copilot: Alternate versions have the hippie patriarch transform into Mr. Topps, instead of the grand entrance from the golden flying car. Makes sense, considering that they were played by the same actor.
- High-HeelFace Turn: Pandi at the end of the film.
- Intercourse with You: Pandi's "Coming for You" manages to make "Love to Love You Baby" seem subtle, even without the bed-based choreography.
- Jewish Mother: Alphie's landlady.
- Louis Cypher: Mr. Boogalow again as a human identity of Satan.
- Lyrical Shoehorn: "Meet an actual actual actual vampire!"
- Mark of the Beast: The BIM mark, which is a holographic sticker of the company's logo that Mr. Boogalow mandates all people wear on their face, to the point that violators will be threatened with fines or arrest.
- Mega-Corp: BIM. Eventually they become so powerful, the government requires everyone to wear their logo (referred to as "the BIM Mark") and stop all activity to listen and dance to their music for an hour each day.
- Mind Screw: The entire film is a bizarre trip where dance numbers and fantasies come out of nowhere and it's very difficult to tell what is meant to be part of the narrative and what isn't.
- New-Age Retro Hippie: The only people who try to live free of BIM. Most of them are old enough that they may very well be first wave hippies.
- Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: Scottish George Gilmour cannot maintain a Canadian accent as Alphie. This is especially noticeable given that co-star Catherine Mary Stewart is an actual Canadian.
- Product Placement: A box of Cheerios is visible, as well a factory distributing Coca-Cola.
- Rape Portrayed as Redemption: Bizarrely inverted. At one of the party scenes Pandi orders two (presumably drugged) drinks for her and Alphie, but he drinks down both of them while she smiles sheepishly. Later she has sex with him while he's under the influence. The next day, she, the rapist, is the one who is redeemed, and finally decides to help Bibi escape. Thus at the end of the film, Mr. Topps allows her to join the hippies in the Rapture.
- Serious Business: The BIM Hour, where everyone, regardless of whatever they're doing, breaks into choreographed dance numbers by force of law. Even in the middle of surgery.
- Sissy Villain: A huge portion of Shake / Boogalow's inner circle fits one overblown Camp Gay stereotype or another.
- Slipping a Mickey: Dandi drugs Bibi early in the film, and later Pandi does the same in order to sleep with Alphie.
- Triumphant Reprise: It's not easy to make out, but the hippies are singing a choral version of "Universal Melody" as they march off to be raptured.
- What Happened to the Mouse?: Alphie's landlady simply disappears from the film during the third act.
- World of Ham: Clearly, subtlety was dead by 1994.