Tag Archives: musical

The Blues Brothers (1980) | John Landis



The film starts out with Jake Blues (John Belushi) being released from prison, picked up by his brother Elwood (Dan Aykroyd) in a used cop car turned “Blues Mobile”.  They make good on a promise to visit the orphanage they grew up in, only to find it is in danger of being shut down, due needing $5,000 in tax money owed.  With only days to go before it is too late, the Blues Brothers are inspired by a vision from God to save the orphanage, which they plan to do by reuniting the band they played in.  This proves to be a tough task, as all of the members have moved on to other occupations.  Not only this, but along the way, they manage to piss off the police, the Illinois Nazi Party, and just about everyone else they come across in their bid to make enough money to deliver by the deadline without getting caught, or worse.


Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo (1984) | Sam Firstenberg



Somewhere underneath the never-ending music and dance numbers is a story about keeping Shabba-Doo’s community center for inner city youth (named “Miracles”) from falling into the hands of a slimy developer who wants to bulldoze it to erect a shopping center in the middle of the community.  This would leave the kids nowhere else to go, so obviously they choose to fight the city council’s decision to shut it down, but a window of opportunity exists, which calls for $200,000 in necessary repairs.


Breakin’ (1984) | Joel Silberg



Former “Solid Gold” dancer Lucinda Dickey stars as Kelly, a waitress by day, aspiring jazz dancer in her spare time.  She has the looks and talent to go far, at least according to her dance instructor, but this move seems to come at a price, as he wants a little action on the side to help her career.  She makes friends with a couple of local street dancers, aka break-dancers, Ozone and Turbo, and she becomes enamored of the mannerisms and moves of the street dancers.  They agree to teach her some steps in order to gain street rep, while she has a crazy idea to make break-dancing more mainstream in the form of a staged musical about it.  Alas, the conservative art crowd scoffs at the idea, as do the rival street-dancing crews who want to be prove they are the best of the bunch.


Beat Street (1984) | Stan Lathan



Producer and activist Harry Belafonte’s commercialized slice-of-life drama stars Guy Davis as Kenny ‘Double K’ Kirkland, a South Bronx hip-hop DJ with big dreams, and Jon Chardiet as Ramon, a Puerto Rican graffiti artist who would rather tag trains than get a real job.  Rae Dawn Chong is Tracy, an upper-class music student from  a college in Manhattan who sees something in Kenny’s proficiency with turntablism to want him to assist with her presentation on break-dancing. 


Wild Style (1983) | Charlie Ahearn



The seminal hip-hop film looks at underground Bronx art culture, including rap, graffiti art, break-dancing (aka b-boying) and DJing (aka turntablism), as we follow the exploits of a graffiti artist named Zoro and his quest to take his art and make it a living.  Charlie Ahearn and Fab 5 Freddy created this film to expose to the world the genuine artistry and talent going on in the South Bronx, with lost of scenes of the authentic underground artists and their phenomenal talents.  Imitated, but never duplicated, WILD STYLE is the grand daddy of all films covering hip-hop.


Krush Groove (1985) | Michael Schultz



The loose story of how Def Jam came to be, featuring the hottest hip-hop artists of the mid-1980s, Run-DMC, Kurtis Blow, The Fat Boys, LL Cool J, The Beastie Boys, and many more.  Blair Underwood plays Russell, whose management company is coming up with some hot musical acts, including Run-DMC, featuring his brother Joe, who he ends up losing to some rivals offering more money.  He gets into a financial pickle, while also romancing a hot funk-pop talent named Sheila, whom Joe also has a thing for. Michael Schultz directs this fan-favorite kitsch on hip-hop’s early days.


Hairspray (1988) | John Waters



John Waters writes and directs this most accessible of his films, his only one to be rated PG, with HAIRSPRAY, the film that made Ricki Lake a prominent star to be.  Set in 1962, HAIRSPRAY explores race and class in a mostly divided Baltimore, where teens of different races weren’t allowed to dance on the same show at the same time. Tracy Turnblad doesn’t see why they can’t all be one happy group, vowing to turn the local variety show to reflect the diversity of the town itself.  Debbie Harry, Sonny Bono, and Divine also appear.

 


Little Shop of Horrors (1986) | Frank Oz



Howard Ashman and Alan Menken’s off-Broadway darkly comical stage musical came to life in 1986, directed by Muppet-alum Frank Oz, featuring Rick Moranis, and small roles for Steve Martin, Bill Murray and John Candy.  Ellen Greene co-stars in this story about a 1960s loser who finds success with an exotic plant that makes all his dreams come true, if only he finds a way to keep it fed — with human blood!  Production design and the catchy tunes makes this a favorite musical from the 80s.


My Little Pony: The Movie (1986) | Mike Joens



Marvel joined with Sunbow to deliver the first of four animated feature films based on Hasbro toys in the 1980s with 1986’s MY LITTLE PONY: THE MOVIE, which took the popular toy line of dolls resembling ponies and other animals (plus a few humans) and pitted them against three dastardly witches who can’t stand their rampant pleasantness.  Danny DeVito, Cloris Leachman, Madeline Kahn, Rhea Perlman and Tony Randall do their best to bring this colorful musical adventure to life.  Critically and commercially tanking at the box office at the time, it’s about time we look this gift horse in the mouth and see what we find with this retrospective review!


The Little Mermaid (1989) | Ron Clements & John Musker



The Disney Renaissance kicked off with this smash hit animated feature that brought the studio back in a major way, THE LITTLE MERMAID!  Featuring great vocal talent, quality animation, and a killer score and soundtrack, it delighted a generation, and will delight many more, with its story of Ariel, a teenage mermaid who dreams of love with a hunky sailor prince, Eric, only made possible through a bad deal with a sea witch named Ursula.


Xanadu (1980) | Robert Greenwald



The much-maligned 1980 musical gets re-evaluated in this podcast review.  Olivia Newton-John plays a muse who is sent to earth to inspire a struggling artist (Michael Beck) fulfill his dream of starting a roller-disco club with a retired construction magnate (Gene Kelly).  Newton-John and pop group ELO deliver a powerhouse soundtrack in this visually impressive first effort from future political documentarian Robert Greenwald.


Labyrinth (1986) | Jim Henson



Jennifer Connelly is cast in one of her first starring roles as Sarah, a teenage girl who has grown tired of her stepmother and father leaving her home alone to babysit her infant brother, Toby.  In a bout of exasperation, she wishes him away, and inadvertently summons the vain and moody Goblin King of myth, Jareth (played by David Bowie), who kidnaps the baby and steals him away into his fantasy realm.  There, the baby boy remains hidden in a dangerous castle in the middle of an ornate labyrinth. If Sarah wants a chance at getting the brother she really didn’t want to go back, she must traverse the enigmatic trail before midnight, or the Goblin King gets to keep Toby forever.