60. Xanadu

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Movie: Xanadu

Release Date: August 8, 1980

Director: Robert Greenwald

Starring: Olivia Newton-John, Gene Kelly, Michael Beck.

Tag Lines: “The Music, The Film, A Place Where Dreams Come True.”

“In Xanadu a golden goddess did decree…Welcome to your own musical fantasy.”

“A Fantasy, A Musical, A Place Where Dreams Come True.”

“Where time stops and the magic never ends.”

Relevance: One of my favorite extracurricular activities as a youth was roller-skating. My family would frequent “Skateaway,” a roller rink near my hometown, at least twice a month, if not more. Many birthday parties were held there, but it was also common for us to go on a Saturday afternoon to zoom around on skates in a large oval to the popular tunes of the day. There was a snack bar as well as a large game room with pinball, arcade games and air hockey to entertain those that chose not to partake in the skate. My favorite part of the entire experience though was the extremely loud music booming through those speakers. I was in heaven.

“Skateaway” stopped being a popular hangout for me when I entered high school. But right through the eighth grade, most Friday nights I could be seen skating around to “Funkytown” or “Erotic City” with a huge smile on my face. There were lighted signs at the one end of the rink that signified what kind of skate should be happening; Regular skate, Couple skate, Trio skate and Special skate. They even had limbo competitions every so often. No matter what was lit up or what was happening on the rink, I was participating and having a grand old time. While I was skating, I always felt like Olivia Newton-John in ‘Xanadu.’

‘Xanadu’ was released in 1981 to negative reviews and was considered a box office disappointment. Being ten at the time, I did not see it while it was in theaters. I actually did not see the movie until a year or two later when it played over and over again on HBO. The movie may have flopped, but the glorious soundtrack was a huge success and I was very familiar with it. Olivia Newton-John was a family favorite and I grew up listening to her music, especially her contributions to the ‘Grease’ soundtrack. It was no surprise then that her music from ‘Xanadu’ was very popular in my house as well. “Magic,” “Suddenly” and the title track were played quite a bit on our eight track player. Even before I saw the film, I was skating and singing to ‘Xanadu.’

Once I finally saw the movie on HBO, I was completely hooked. It was an odd, quirky musical fantasy that everyone seemed to hate or make fun of, except that is, for me. I absolutely loved it. I thought it was the coolest movie ever. I already knew the songs, so I would just tap my feet and sing along with a smile on my face the entire time it was on. Plus, roller-skating had a huge part in the film. So of course I took those moves I learned from the film to “Skateaway” and showed them off. I never got tired of the movie. Even after my days at “Skateaway” had faded away, the memories, visuals and sounds of ‘Xanadu’ always stayed with me.

‘Xanadu’ has since become a cult classic film and has even spawned a popular Tony nominated Broadway musical. I am not always a fan of movies turned into musicals, but this is one big exception. It was as weird and quirky as the movie and one that did not take itself too seriously. It was the perfect homage and parody of the Olivia Newton-John film, one that she even praised herself. The film will always hold a special place in my heart. As some people discover it for the first time or re-discover it again, I am proud to exclaim that I was a fan from day one. I own the DVD and have watched the movie many times over the years and still love every cheesy, fabulous moment.

Today’s Thoughts: “I’ve been known to twinkle a toe or two.”

‘Xanadu’ is just as strange as it was back in the early 1980’s and I wouldn’t want it any other way. I absolutely adored watching this movie again today. In fact, last night before going to bed I started doing a little happy dance. My husband asked what I was doing and I said I was just happy that I was going to watch ‘Xanadu’ tomorrow. He did not respond.

My husband did watch half of ‘Xanadu’ with me today however and having him sit still and watch half of anything is quite the accomplishment. And he did so with a smile. I watched the entire movie and of course had a grin from ear to ear from start to finish. It is so silly but so much fun. I absolutely love the music and as ridiculous as the story may be, it is adorable, fun and completely entertaining. Olivia Newton-John is beautiful in the film and I could watch her as Kira all day long. Gene Kelly is always delightful and seeing him dance with Miss Olivia is sheer heaven. I love the costumes, sets, choreography and everything else about this movie and always will.

‘Xanadu’ is surely not a film for everyone, but I honestly don’t want to know those people as they obviously have no taste. Watching the movie today has put me in great spirits and I am sure I will be listening to its music for the remainder of the day. If only I could find myself a pair of roller skates, I’d be all set.

Ways to Watch: Hulu, HBO Max, Amazon Prime, YouTube, iTunes, Google Play, Vudu, DVD Availability.

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