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DVD Review: Flashdance (Special Collector’s Edition w/ Bonus CD)

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Written by Senora Bicho 

Flashdance, what a feeling! Leg warmers, big hair, torn t-shirts, over-the-top music, and all of the other fabulous aspects of the ‘80s are well represented in this Special Collector’s Edition.

The movie was released in April 1983. I was 10 at the time so I wasn’t even aware of the impact it was having on pop culture. I didn’t come to appreciate it until high school when my friends and I would watch it over and over again along with listening and dancing to the soundtrack. I loved this film and felt that it was a movie engendering female power. The music is still fantastic but the rest of the film leaves a little to be desired.

Flashdance is the story of an 18-year-old welder who dreams of being a dancer. Jennifer Beals plays the lead role of Alexandra (Alex) Owens. Beals is adorable in the role and gives the character warmth and innocence. In order to achieve her dream of getting into a well-renowned dance school, Alex dances in her off time at a gentlemen’s club. The key about this club is that the women do not dance nude and are given artistic freedom in creating their dance numbers with music and costumes. The first dance number Alex performs grabs the attention of Nick Hurley played by Michael Nouri. Hurley turns out to be the boss at the steel mill. He repeatedly asks her out only to be continuously turned down. One night Alex is being harassed by the owner of an X-rated club and Hurley comes along to save the day. Thus, their romance begins.

One big problem I now have with the film is the fact that Alex is only 18 while Hurly is much older. I didn’t remember this when I had watched it way back, but it seems a bit creepy now. However, there is a connection between the characters and their chemistry works. The reason being the music and the dancing carry the movie. The overall plot and subplots are extremely weak; the movie is really just one big music video. The music elevates the film to another level and would make anyone want to get up and dance. The best song of them all is the title track, “Flashdance . . . What a Feeling,” performed by Irene Cara which won the Academy Award for Best Original Song.

Another criticism of the film that created a lot of controversy at the time was the fact that Beals didn’t actually do the dancing; she had a double. This is very distracting because it is very obvious when it’s not Beals. The hair gives it away as well as the times when you can actually see the double’s face. I am not sure why they didn’t go with a trained dancer in the role. Cynthia Rhodes plays a friend and fellow dancer at the club. She is an amazing dancer who also had supporting roles in Dirty Dancing and Staying Alive. I think the film could have been better and more credible if she had played the main character.

Flashdance, while being a cultural icon, also kicked off the successful producing partnership of Jerry Bruckheimer and Don Simpson for Paramount Pictures. After this movie, they produced many other films together, such as the hits Beverly Hills Cop and Top Gun. Simpson died in 1996 and their last film together, The Rock, was dedicated to his memory. I was surprised to realize that the film was directed by Adrian Lyne. It was only his second film but seems so out of place from the films he went on to direct such as 9 ½ Weeks and Fatal Attraction. The film does have a dark, sexy look and feel about it that translates to his later work.

The special features of the DVD are really one chopped-up featurette that covers the history, look, music and songs, choreography, and the release of Flashdance. Bruckheimer, Lyne, and Nouri discuss all of these aspects along with more producers, choreographers, costume designers, and others. Beals is noticeably missing. If you love the film, you will enjoy getting the insight. Lyne is especially charismatic and interesting to listen to.

One producer referred to the film as the “Girl’s Rocky”. I disagree and would say this is more a film about following your dreams no matter who you are. Times have changed since the time the film was released though, and women have gained more ground and are shown in more powerful roles than ever. Meryl Streep, Glen Close, Kate Blanchette, and Helen Mirren are just a few that inspire and amaze me. The best part of this DVD Collection is the CD with six of the best songs from the film. My drive to work was so much better with this in my CD player.

Flashdance was hugely successful and was the #6 grossing film of 1983 and has earned over $94 million in the United States with the soundtrack selling over 6 million copies. This film is a perfect representation of the ‘80s and is silly fun. If you loved it then, you will probably still like it now, especially the music.

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About Gordon S. Miller

Gordon S. Miller is the artist formerly known as El Bicho, the nom de plume he used when he first began reviewing movies online for The Masked Movie Snobs in 2003. Before the year was out, he became that site's publisher. Over the years, he has also contributed to a number of other sites as a writer and editor, such as FilmRadar, Film School Rejects, High Def Digest, and Blogcritics. He is the Publisher of Cinema Sentries. Some of his random thoughts can be found at twitter.com/ElBicho_CS