50 thoughts we had while watching Xanadu

Contributed by
Jun 29, 2018, 6:00 PM EDT

Have you ever plunged headfirst into a basket of lit fireworks? I haven't either, but I have seen Xanadu multiple times and I think the two experiences are likely quite similar. 

Despite its mega-hit of a soundtrack, the film itself was a critical and commercial flop and quickly became an industry joke, even inspiring the creation of the Razzies. Michael Cotten from the band The Tubes, which is featured in the movie, said, "It was just a train wreck — a big, giant, colorful train wreck." That, my friends, is my kind of high praise. And since the film has amassed a cult following, largely thanks to the LGBTQ+ community, we thought it a perfect Pride Month Deja View. Strap on your skates, my muses. Because WE'RE ALIVE.

  1. Even the opening credits are batsh*t. A globe is spinning and as it spins it goes from old-timey music with a helicopter to rousing disco and an airplane to a spaceship (the film does not involve aliens), then fades to a beach where a man is playing the clarinet and then an art boy is making art and he’s displeased with his art so he litters and his litter makes a mural come to life. It’s all fine. It’s all great. Everything is going according to plan. To the coke plan.
  2. It’s very clear Olivia Newton-John cannot dance because the only move she gets to do is this Batusi situation. But she is fully COMMITTING to it.


  3. Okay, so ONJ is made of light and she also rollerskates and she rollerskates into the art boy and kisses him and he says “what the?” with all the gusto of nonfat plain yogurt.
  4. Dude’s face literally does not move. Is he okay? Do we need to call someone? 


  5. The purpose of this company is…unclear. They paint larger versions of album covers. Is that…is that how this process went in 1980? They couldn’t make copies so they literally just painted very large versions?
  6. Clarinet man is back, and he’s Gene Kelly because Gene Kelly is most known for his clarinet playing and that’s why they cast him. 
  7. ONJ returns and she’s still on rollerskates. Bland Art Boy politely steals a moped, the women he politely steals it from are FINE WITH THIS. I think the movie wants us to think he’s handsome when he actually looks like the lumpy baby of Heath Ledger and Jim Varney.
  8. Bland Art Boy has befriended Gene Kelly somehow kind of because they bonded over him crashing those girls’ moped.
  9. Oh, btw, he crashed those girls’ moped. Like into the ocean. This is our hero I think. Our handsome(?) hero.
  10. It’s all okay, though because it’s time for “Magic” and that is my actual f*cking JAM. ONJ is doing dramatic rollerdance to her own song and I’m here for it.

  11. Ooh, his sexy opening line is “You.” Her very solid response is “Me.” The chemistry here is so hot you could freeze popsicles with it. 
  12. Bland Art Boy is too much of an artist for this vague corporate gig but he already said he needs it in order to, like, eat. But he's not even attempting to keep his job and is actively being an asshole to try and lose it. WHY DOES HE HATE EATING SO MUCH? 
  13. Star Wars WISHES its scene transitions were this subtle.


  14. Gene Kelly and Bland Art Boy are now best friends. We know that because they only just introduced themselves to one another, and now they’re at Gene Kelly’s house and I think Bland Art Boy just implied he wants Gene Kelly’s house when he dies. This movie is moving along like a Bland Art Boy on a moped. Right into the sea.
  15. Gene Kelly is the best part of this movie, but watching Olivia Newton-John pretend to tap dance with him is deeply upsetting. Add in all the foley you want, people—those shuffles aren’t even touching the floor. 


  16. So ONJ is eternal and used to be a USO singer and… dancer? with a capital Question Mark. She and Gene Kelly were once in muse love, the same kind of love she’s now falling in with Bland Art Boy, which is strange because Bland Art Boy is literal nothingness and Gene Kelly is GENE KELLY. 
  17. It’s important to know what this movie is about. Because you will think this movie is about ONJ providing inspiration for Bland Art Boy's art but it is not. She provides inspiration for club ownership and real estate development. It’s a very specific type of musedom. 
  18. I feel like this is not a realistic depiction of the recording industry. 


  19. Please know that this is a facility the movie posits recording studios just have. For inspiration. Also that they can fly, I think. In fairness, the ending of Grease suggested the same thing. It’s possible Olivia Newton-John can actually fly.
  20. This movie about real estate inspiration is, in fact, giving us a five-minute romantic skating date inside of a recording studio that is essentially the Warner Brothers backlot.
  21. By the way, this is Bland Art Boy’s car. He’s insufferable. 


  22. This film does not so much have a story or a plot or a script so much as it has things…happening…that are largely unrelated but, like, the movie seems to think they are.
  23. Things sure are happening. I don’t know what they are. But they are most definitely happening. I think.
  24. A few months back I learned that cough syrup mixes badly with Wellbutrin and this is basically what that was like. 
  25. Olivia Newton-John is singing this song but she is not in this scene. It’s just her voice. This movie forgot that she has a very distinctive voice. That said, this is a dance scene so maybe the movie was trying to save us from more faux time steps.
  26. This scene is about real estate.


  27. Gene Kelly is handing over half of his business to Bland Art Boy despite zero experience or skill or personality or expression or character or acting ability or any redeeming quality of any kind. Bland white men happening upon unearned success: The Movie!
  28. There was just a big moment where our hero quits the job he was terrible at in the most obnoxious way possible because he is the actual WORST.
  29. It’s truly a testament to Olivia Newton-John and her charisma that she appears to enjoy this toothy husk of garbage. 
  30. This is a thing that happens. It happens in this movie. This movie does this thing. 


  31. In fairness the movie had no choice. The female lead can’t dance and the male lead can’t do anything.
  32. Also, neither is a fish.


  33. Look this movie isn’t good but it does have a Gene Kelly trying on clothes montage. Does YOUR movie have a Gene Kelly trying on clothes montage? I DIDN’T F*CKING THINK SO. Eat it, David O. Russell.


  34. You know that thing when you try to describe a dream and you start forgetting it as you tell it and also none of it makes sense and you know the person you’re telling doesn’t care and you basically begin dissolving as a human, like an Alka Seltzer in a glass of water? That’s this movie. 


  35. Olivia Newton-John loves Bland Art Boy and, like, lol, no she doesn’t. He’s basically a napkin, only less useful. 
  36. “We’re not supposed to feel emotion or show any feeling. Muses are just supposed to inspire. But then I fell in love.” With this sentient pile of potato peels? K.
  37. “I can’t go. Xanadu doesn’t matter anymore.” “What do you mean it doesn’t matter? How can this not matter? This was our dream!” Was it though? Gene Kelly’s dream, maybe. But this stale crusts cut off of a PBJ in human form was just kind of along for the ride. It’s like Weekend at Bernie’s minus Andrew McCarthy and Jonathan Silverman if stuff just kept happening to Bernie and also Bernie is our hero and we’re supposed to care about Bernie but Bernie is just a wet floor towel.
  38. Cute shorts though, guy. 


  39. This isn’t even a scene about waiting for paint to dry. It’s waiting for paint to move.
  40. “I’ve never felt this way about anyone.” Wow, that’s ice cold to Gene Kelly.
  41. This movie is an infected brain boil of a fever dream but man I love this soundtrack and I eternally stan ONJ. Remember when her husband faked his own death and disappeared? He’s still more likable than the male lead of this movie. 
  42. This puffy shirt is a lewk.
  43. Clearly Gene Kelly didn’t need Bland Art Boy to make this business happen. He’s doing FINE.
  44. This club is an ugly hotel lobby featuring extras from Batman Returns but everyone seems to be having a great time and also is wearing either scarves or leather. It’s like very specific gangs. The gangs are: Solid Gold Dancers, Dick Tracy Extras, A Bunch of David Bowies, and People Wearing Fashions Inspired by Various Scenes in Working Girl.
  45. WHAT ARE THESE PANTS ONJ? LIV, WHY ARE THESE PANTS? There are parasol-focused circus arts onscreen but I can’t think about that right now because PANTS. DISCO KNICKERBOCKERS.


  46. She’s so pretty in this movie it’s stupid. 
  47. Also stupid? A fancy hanging for the sake of the disco. 


  48. Why do they keep making Olivia Newton-John tap dance? She has so many talents. THIS IS NOT ONE OF THEM. But god love her, she is doing her BEST.
  49. This movie is so weird. Like I’ve seen this movie at least 15 times and I’m always surprised by how weird it is. 
  50. And now ONJ is an eternal waitress. I think. I don’t know. I don’t know how this movie actually ends. It’s a weird f*cking movie. About real estate.
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