Bil’s rating (out of 5): BB.5. USA, 1978. Casablanca Filmworks, Major Studio Partners, Motown Productions. Screenplay by Armyan Bernstein. Cinematography by James Crabe. Produced by Rob Cohen. Music by Harry Betts. Production Design by Tom H. John. Costume Design by Betsy Jones. Film Editing by Richard Halsey.Academy Awards 1978. Golden Globe Awards 1978. Podcast: Bad Gay Movies.
The fifteen minutes of disco craze in the late seventies are caught at the peak of their popularity in this hilariously cheesy dance film. It takes place over the period of one night at the club Zoo, where teenagers, conservative adults, wild party animals and a smooth cat of a club owner (Jeff Goldblum) gather to click the night away on their platform shoes. Donna Summer is adorable as a young woman who spends the evening trying to work her way into the disco booth so she can sing her song (the Oscar-winning theme “Last Dance” written by the late Paul Jabara, who also appears) and make herself a star. Meanwhile, The Commodores are meant to perform but the guy who is bringing their musical equipment is lost on the highway. The film has aged well mainly because of its kitsch value; seeing all that polyester, not to mention Debra Winger in one of her earliest roles, is a delight, but what will really keep you in your seat is the wonderful soundtrack, the songs of which are still in (retro) style. Hilariously enough, this film seems to make disco a purely heterosexual experience, which is probably an indication that it is not quite documentary-like in quality; the ridiculous cross-dresser in the bathroom is straight out of a bad Porky’s sequel, but squint at the crowd every once in a while and you’ll see a couple of guys dancing and not caring that there’s no girl nearby.