Reviewed by Jenny LeComte
Rating: 8 Beans
hen you've got sex, drugs, debauchery involving famous people and some of the coolest 70s music this side of the mirror ball, how can you go wrong? Ask Mark Christopher. He’s the guy who directed this dog and he should go straight to the
RSPCA without passing go. Well, I can’t say I wasn’t warned. When I looked up “Studio 54” on the Internet Movie Database, the reviews were murderous. “A joyless dead end of a movie!” cried the Dallas Morning News. “Woefully acted and written,” said the Denver Post. The Los Angeles Times called it “pathetic, lethargic and
dispiriting”. Still, I was in a forgiving mood and keen to hear a few perished disco
tracks. ‘It’s got Fly Robin Fly on the soundtrack,’ I told my mates, who eyed me dubiously when I returned from the video store. ‘How bad can it be?’
Try bad with a capital B. Watching this film was like being at the bottom of the ocean with a 10-tonne weight pressing on my back. Ennui seeped through my bones like molasses. If you went to the State library and changed every word in every book to “boring” and read them aloud in an exceedingly dull monotone, you wouldn’t come close to capturing the snooze factor of this film.
“Studio 54” contains none of the black humour of “Boogie Nights”, none of the cool dance scenes of “Saturday Night Fever” and none of the kitsch value of “You Can’t Stop The Music”, yet it rips off the worst cliches of each. Why even bother to tell you
the plotline? We’ve seen it all before in a thousand times before. Shane O’Shea (Ryan
Phillipe) is a small town boy from Jersey who hankers for a bite of the Big Apple. With
his Shirley Temple curls and washboard pecs, he manages to catch the eye of Steve Rubell, the dissolute owner of Studio 54 - the hottest nightclub in New York. Rubell,played by Mike Myers of Austin Powers infamy, ushers Shane inside before you can say “yeah, baby, yeah”. His dropkick Jersey mates are left to stare jealously while Shane sashays up the stairs, pausing for a snort of coke here and a spot of unprotected sex with a Eurotrash contessa there.
Rubell gives Shane a job as a topless barman so he’s got even greater opportunity to catch VD and burn holes in his nasal passages. Then Shane takes an apartment with co-worker Greg Randazzo (Breckin Meyer) and tries to crack onto his live-in girlfriend Anita (Salma Hayek). Anita has aspirations to be the next Donna Summer
and has bought a cheap reel-to-reel tapedeck and some spangly costumes to this end.
Greg, meanwhile, can’t lie straight in bed. There was a sub-plot involving Rubell asking him for a blow job and Greg absconding with a couple of garbage bags full of money, but I fell asleep on the couch and my mates had to prod me awake.
‘Shall we rewind the tape so you can catch it for BMN?’ they asked.
‘If it’s a choice between that and the cat o’ nine tails, I’ll take the latter,’ I said.
There was also a sub-plot involving Shane and a starlet called Julie Black (Neve
Campbell). She was from Jersey, too, and had thrown out her small-town morals in an equally cavalier fashion. While Shane wanted love’s young dream, Julie turned up on the arm of a crusty film director and looked like she’d just tumbled out of his bed which - in fact - she had. Shane retaliated by sticking his tongue down Anita’s throat and checking to see if there was any stray stock around. In “Studio 54”, there invariably is - normally a Eurotrash contessa who slings an emaciated arm around your shoulder and purrs “what’s your sign, baby?”
The movie had limped along to this point, then somebody shot it behind both knee caps. Even Rubell getting done for tax evasion couldn’t hold our interest. Everyone was acutely bored. Which beggars the question - if you’ve got sex, drugs, debauchery
involving famous people and some of the coolest 70s music this side of the mirror ball,where can you go wrong? I still don’t know and what’s more, I don’t care.
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