Friday, March 4, 2011

Thank God It’s Friday (1978)


          Given disco’s lowly status in the pantheon of pop-music genres, it will come as no surprise to say that disco didn’t inspire very many good movies; in fact it’s hard to think of another disco-themed classic besides Saturday Night Fever (1977). But even within this expectation-lowering context, some of the most prominent disco flicks are atrocious, with dippy storylines, moronic characters, and shoddy production values. Those three shortcomings are on ample display throughout Thank God It’s Friday, a simultaneously overstuffed and underdeveloped attempt to mimic the excitement of one crazy night at a hot discotheque. Several characters converge on the Zoo nightclub for a dance contest featuring a live performance by the Commodores, with half of the characters eager to prove their worth on the dancefloor and the other hot to strut their skills in the bedroom.
          What should be flashy and sexy is instead dull and laborious, because the filmmakers focus on milking uninspired running gags instead of trying to develop colorful characters. Valerie Lansburg and Terri Nunn play ditzy teenagers who want the contest prize money so they can buy tickets to a Kiss concert. Mark Lonow and Andrea Howard play a tightly wound married couple who get tempted to stray from each other. Jeff Goldblum plays a sleazy club owner who tries to score with every hot chick who walks through the door. Real-life recording artist Donna Summer plays a would-be singing star (wink, wink), and so on.
          Aside from the anthropological interest of listening to cheesy pickup lines and looking at terrible clothes, the only appeal is seeing interesting people in an uninteresting context. Nunn, who later became the lead singer of the New Wave band Berlin, was a runner-up for the Princess Leia role in Star Wars (1977) around the time she made this flick, so it’s fun to watch her chipper performance and wonder how she might have fared in a galaxy far, far away. Goldblum and Debra Winger (who plays a nice girl adrift in a sea of horny men) shot Thank God It’s Friday just before they became famous, and Summer briefly performs her hit “Last Dance,” which was written for this movie and won an Oscar. So as a time capsule of the disco era, Thank God It’s Friday has merit, but in every other regard, it’s an 89-minute slog until viewers can sing “Thank God It’s Over.”

Thank God It’s Friday: LAME

No comments: