CAN'T STOP THE MUSIC -- AMC Academy, Arlington, Dupont, Landover, Roth's Quince Orchard, State, Towncenter, West End, White Flint,
For the first showing of "Can't Stop the Music," the soundtrack was turned up so loud that the dialogue came out high-pitched and nearly unintelligible. This is not necessarily a disadvantage.
Nobody goes to musicals for the story line, after all, and the old-fashioned ones required only the simplest love story to serve as an excuse for music. In those days, however, love was generally thought to take place between a boy and a girl.
Billing itself as "The Movie Musical Event of the '80s," this film has a love story for the '80s: Not between boy and girl, although there is one pair of those in the picture, nor among boy and boy and boy and boy, which seems to be the arrangement preferred by the rest of the characters.
It's between everybody and celebritydom.
Thus the story line, shared with such other modern successes as "The Muppet Movie," is: "You're probably wondering how we got to be so famous."
The "we" in this case is the musical group "Village People," a sextet put together by Frenchman Jacques Morali of what he considered the American male images -- cowboy, Indian, hard-hat, cop, soldier and biker. The love story between them and fame serves as an excuse for their songs: The title one, "YMCA," plus some of "Macho Man," "Milk Shake," "Liberation," "Magic Night," "Give Me a Break," "I Love You to Death."
These staged with the dancing-on-the-table-top, split screens vertical mirrors and other devices of the heyday of film musicals, adapted in a campy way and spiced up with the tee-hees of "outrageousness." This means gay gestures or other sexuality directed at conventional-looking characters, who are then to look first shocked, then happily freed.
The premise of the film-makers, a resonable one considering the success of the Village People's records, is that this joke is going to be the great tittilator of the mass audience of the '80s.