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DVD Review: Flashdance

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There are two kinds of movies in Paramount's "I Love the 80's" DVD series: great films that hold up remarkably well in 2009, like Planes, Trains and Automobiles, and mediocre films with little appeal except for nostalgia value. Flashdance definitely belongs in the second category.

Flashdance was a surprise hit in 1983, thanks in no small part to the Giorgio Moroder-produced soundtrack album, but twenty-six years later, it's difficult to see what the fuss was all about. Jennifer Beals plays an 18-year-old welder (uh-huh) who spends her nights dancing at a blue-collar nightclub (uh-huh) where the dancers wear elaborate costumes and never take all their clothes off (uh-huh), but her real goal is to join a prestigious Pittsburgh ballet academy (uh-huh). Fortunately for her, she begins dating the foreman on her construction site (uh-huh) who gets her the audition, during which (spoiler alert!) she wins over the stuffy judges with a dance routine set to Irene Cara's "Flashdance… What a Feeling."


Okay, so a little suspension of disbelief – scratch that, a lot of suspension of disbelief – is required to enjoy Flashdance. But even as a fantasy, Flashdance is a remarkably dull and forgettable, and poorly written to boot. (Screenwriters Tim Hedley and Joe Eszterhas – remember him? – gave Beals dialogue like, "I don't want you buying me anything. I don't want you buying me, period!") As nearly every film critic has noted, director Adrian Lyne (who went on to make Fatal Attraction and Unfaithful) made what amounted to a series of music videos masquerading as a movie.

If Flashdance had been rated PG, I could understand why Beals and the other dancers at Mawby's Bar perform routines that wouldn't shock your grandmother. (The strobe lighting might give her a seizure, but never mind.) But it's an R-rated film, thanks mainly to a scene set in "Zanzibar," a sleazy strip joint that actually resembles a real strip joint. The "hooker with a heart of gold" is a film cliche, but it seems like the makers of Flashdance wanted to give us a strip club with a heart of gold. If Beals had been trying to work her way up from a place like Zanzibar, Flashdance might have been a more effective film.

This DVD edition of Flashdance doesn't contain any special features, but it does include a CD with four '80s pop songs. Alas, Erasure's "Chains of Love" and a-ha's "Take On Me" hold up much better than the movie.

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