THE PIRATE MOVIE (1982)

Who else had the desire to see this today? Just me then?

Given the absolute magic that was Xanadu and The Apple its understandable the appeal to create fantastical ’80s musicals meshing fashion and sound, cartoon humor with knowing winks to the audience. So some filmmakers in Australia decided to try their hand at something everyone in the 80s was begging for – a big splashy rendition of the Pirates of Penzance.

The obvious observation out of the gate is giving this film the award for laziest title ever.  We couldn’t name it Pirates of Penzance?  How did that producers meeting go?

Producer 1: Its called Pirates of Penzance and its a musical. People like both of those things, right?

Producer 2: People won’t know what they’re getting! We need to give it a more hip, more contemporary title! We’re calling it The Pirate Movie until we think of something else.”

At this point in my blog I give a quick recap of the plot. To this one, I say, if you have to ask, then this movie just isn’t for you.  You walk in blind and let it dress your brain up in ruffles.

How much sense does this movie make? Absolutely none. None at all.

I had to link the 80s-tastic opening credits. Somewhere Gilbert and Sullivan are shaking their heads and saying, “Don’t put our names on this.”

 

The film doesn’t try for seriousness, in fact it tries for lightheartedness in the way that surgeons try to save patients lives after near fatal car accidents.   Basically, if you’re not making a goofy face on frame, then you’re not doing your job…

“Okay, we wanted this scene to show you’ve got muscles, but how will the audience know we’re being funny?”

Maybe its just this movie was made in a different time, but there was some weirdly sexual scenes included that were played up for laughs.  The ’80s synth music just made it more upsetting.
 The scenes start out innocently enough…

But what you’re missing is the weird grunty sex noises Kristy McNichol makes while Pirate John Tesh flexes his muscles.

This scene also got the Ick Medal…

(shifts uncomfortably, looks down at phone….)

“We’ve got a big goofy song and dance number going on…but the audience might not understand its funny. Get me a silly face!”

This is our villain. He’s hilarious. At least according to the director who kept making him do these faces. Espescially during song and dance numbers.

Maybe you’re asking yourself, “So much dignity left at the door. How low could they go?”

Oh, they went low. Low, like the bottom of the sea.

Literally.

Kristy McNichol sings a song called “Pumpin’ and Blowin…”

…while the guy from Blue Lagoon did a weird awkward dance with animated fish.

No one asked for this, but they gave it to us anyway.

(shifts uncomfortably in my chair, stares at phone)

“Chris, this scene is funny and all but you know what would take it to the next level? Make that funny face!”

I guess an important part of the plot is that our hero can’t go out on his own and be independent from the Pirates of Penzance because he was born on a leap year and is therefore only 5 years old. I’ve filed this story twist away in THINGS TO NEVER USE IN A SCRIPT.

There’s a lot of music that is used in this. Some of it is from the original opera, some of it from a songwriter based in LA that had a “lost weekend*” style writing session when coming up with these songs.

*This infers that there’s a songwriter who did a lot of illegal substances in hopes of touching the mind of God while creating these songs. This is never the way to do it.

During this 90 minute music video, there was a music video that had this romantic montage…

…with scenes that couldn’t have possibly happened, because there was no time in this film’s timeline. Perhaps I am a stickler for the rules of space and time.

“Kristy, you clearly understand the hilarious undertones of hiding out in a knight costume are all dependent on your goofy face. You’ll have to teach Chris…”

Have you discovered your movie is funny, but could be funnier? Gather together the largest group of Keystone Cops possible and watch things really take off.

This is not photoshop. During a swordfight, our hero picks up a lightsaber and waved it around. Clearly our movie was not expecting people to sit this far into it.

The big finale was a high school production of Pirates of Penzance set in one of the chaperone’s yard.

People are playing along, but you can tell everyone who went to Julliard in this lineup is regretting everything espescially not going to that networking meeting where all those Broadway producers showed up.

But none of this matters. You know why?

Because it was all a dream.

OR WAS IT?

Happy endings all around.

And well done to the casting directors who picked the love interests to look like fraternal twins.
(uncomfortably shifts, stares at phone when realizes the implications of that reality).

 

The Apple (1980)

Usually I like to approach my films to current events, time of year or what’s currently playing at your local cineplex. Given that this is a flashy 80s musical extravaganza with a board to the head message, it dawned on me that there are somethings that are just fitting for any moment in life. And so, I sat down with The Apple.

For those of you who haven’t seen it, I give you a taste…

I think we can all agree that 1994 was a grim year for music. This movie was a warning and we all ignored it. This is how Ace of Base happens.

Should you need a quick recap of the plot, here it is, courtesy of Wikipedia…..

Alphie (George Gilmour) and Bibi (Catherine Mary Stewart), two youths from Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan in Canada, travel to America to take part in the 1994 Worldvision Song Festival. Despite being the most talented performers, they are beaten by BIM (Boogalow International Music) and its leader, Mr. Boogalow (Vladek Sheybal), who use underhanded tactics to secure a victory. The duo are approached by Mr. Boogalow to sign to his music label, but soon discover the darker side of the music industry. Bibi is caught up in the wild lifestyle BIM offers, while Alphie risks his life to free her from the company’s evil clutches. He eventually convinces her to run away with him and the pair live as hippies for a year (and produce a child) before being tracked down by Mr. Boogalow who insists Bibi owes him ten million dollars. However, the two are saved by the Rapture, and all good souls are taken away by Mr. Topps (aka God).

Yes, you read the last part of that correctly. Having gotten down by the music business, the Rapture comes and everything is right with the world.

Frankly, there is not one thing wrong with this film. There, I said it and I’d say it again.

 Don’t let this movie fool you. It may tell you that these two fresh faced young’ens are from Canada and that they’re visiting New York, but there’s nothing but interior shots of Germany. The film takes your imagination and takes liberties. But you will thank it for it later.

Nope, not Germany. America. When in doubt, tell yourself, its America.

I don’t know much about the music industry. I’ve read the memoirs, seen the interviews and listened to crappy albums made by artists who were just trying to fill out the last of their record contracts (I’m not going to name names, I’ll just say that one example rhymed with R.E.M.)

Here’s what I do know, and its mostly thanks to this movie. Your magical folk music may stir up the masses, but if you let a record company dress you in red leather, theres just no boundaries of where you’ll go.

Meet your new boss, kids. He’s going to tell you when your single isn’t “radio friendly”.

Not gonna lie…their “corporate disco” is actually better than their folky entry into the world.

Plus, I really want her silver jumpsuit.

Which looks even better on a man. People in the fashion industry are failing by not convincing the Middle America man of today that this is a acceptable and practical look for the man on the go.

I’m going to intersect here, that this movie had an amazing musical number which involved Old Testament theology and a catchy dance tune that commanded the cast members to dance. No film has dared to attempt this and none will ever reach the heights that this did.

She’s taking a bite of an apple, folks. I dare you to find a better way of teaching the origins to sin to a congregation.

So how far does this symbolism take us?
The head of the label…could it be…SATAN?

Well played, movie. Well played.

Frankly, I think this movie is a little confused on the message. Yes, Satan is bad. And the general train of logic would dictate that if he gives a thumbs up to something, its a red flag that you should stay away from it. However, the music is catchy, there’s glitter everywhere, the choreography is just a treat for all the senses – and then the movie makes you feel bad for wanting to do a DIY musical extravaganza in your apartment.

Also a musical orgy happened. It was incredibly catchy.

“If you really wanted a path of righteousness, you’d come organize a folk fest in the park with me.”
“Disco’s not gonna last forever! Satan is lying to you and doesn’t want you to know about Coldplay!”
Remember back in 1994 where you couldn’t hang out in a park without a record label paid security guard busting your chops? 
God, as usual, saves the day, which means you are free to hold Coachella at your local neighborhood park.
And in case you doubted me….
The Rapture does happen and takes the shape of a Buick Skylark. The music is actually pretty good although you can’t really dance to it. Well, you can, just save your disco moves for another party.
So, The Apple. I learned that people just really want folk music. Or did I miss something?

For Your Consideration: SUNDAY SCHOOL MUSICAL (2008)

Last week, we examined what happens when Christians make a movie for Christians. This week, we examine when Christians make a movie for teen Christians and try to be cool about it.

Long ago, roughly 7 years, a group of middle aged white men, got together in a house, probably somewhere far far away from Hollywood, rolled up their short sleeve button down shirts and mused, “What do kids like these days?”

And one of them said, “My daughter likes that Zac Efron punk. Also musicals. With teenagers.”

And with a snap of the fingers, Sunday School Musical became an official thing and this week’s Netflix find.

“Look, if you just tell teenagers that you can’t have “worship” without being “hip” they won’t know. So write it a bunch of times.”

Hey kids – here’s cool kids being cool!

If you’ve seen High School Musical, its kids in high school and they’re singing, but there’s some conflict and color coordinated track suits. Also Zac Efron is worried that people will judge his manliness for wanting to skip around a stage with the girls.

That’s not what happens here.

There’s a choir from a “urban” neighborhood and a choir from a “better” neighborhood. One is by the book and terrible, and the other is really in touch with their funky hip hop selves. Given that this is a movie called Sunday School Musical, start putting your bets on them uniting. Because it will pay off.

“Teenagers like it when you come together. Its in that song from that movie your daughter likes.”

To say this movie was made on a budget is an understatement.  The painfully handscrawled banners and the poor sound design alone…

 

Not to mention this is a regional choir competition, that only had two choirs competing.

 

These actors just realized that their careers have come to a screeching halt.

These kids however…well, they’re on to something.

We have our hero, who’s name I didn’t catch and his choir mate, passing rhymes and catching beats in the squeakiest cleanest way possible. They’re bonded by their love of choir. Nothing will tear that apart.

“Kids, we’re being kicked out of our house and moving to a much nicer neighborhood where you’ll be going somewhere with a lesser choir. Deal with it.”

Despite the fact that the competing choir is at a high school, eliminating the meaning of it being a Sunday School Musical, the adults apparently have no interest in it. Which is why they have a high school girl named Savannah in charge of their music program.

Please note that Savannah’s father has the classic Youth Pastor look. The button down shirt says he’s ready to buckle down and worship, but the frosted hair says, he’s down to jive with God’s awesome word.

What happens when you let the “urban” kid into your choir rehearsal?

Its going to be a boogie breakdown.

He brings in his Justin Timberlakeyness and blows everyone’s minds.

Not every member is onboard with these flashy rock and roll ways.  Like this guy. Who also compares the only “urban” kid in school to Judas.

It happened. Because the filmmakers are “hip”.

With all the care and love that was lavished on the story,  apparently there were some filmmaking details that got left in the dust….

Like this character’s mic pack sticking out of her jeans.

High School Musical wasn’t the only thing that got ripped off.  A Grease moment totally happened here in this high school that only has 8 students in their roster.

I’m concerned about these high schoolers, who have been lying to us this whole time and have been held back and are actually attending an ELEMENTARY SCHOOL.

The school has repressed his inner rhythm and therefore he goes to the bathroom to do the robot and whatever dance moves the kids do these days.  Not that I know – the filmmakers would, so ask them.  Apparently, they’re really “hip.”

Choirs unite! We’ve been waiting for this moment. Thankfully, its awkward and uncoordinated, complete with bad lip synching.

Its time for the big “States” competition. Do we know which states? Why not national?

Here are the judges – hardcore choir experts who have been with so many choirs and have so many hardcore stories involving tours, harmonies, host families and church community hot dish (if you’re from the Midwest, you’ll get that.)

And the united choir brought their game AND their blue shirts of varying hues.

Not like the competing choir from a more “urban” area, showing off their red.

Super cool Youth Pastor Dad gives his seal of approval.  They totally rocked this Sunday School.

At that point, the makers of Sunday School Musical patted themselves on the backs and knew, they had reached a generation and they’re teenage children would finally accept them as one of their own.

Stay tuned for when these intrepid filmmakers realize that teenagers like vampires and release Sunday School Twilight. It is going to be so fetch.