Xanadu Movie Review


A Fantasy, A Musical. A Place Where Dreams Come True
Xanadu Picture
Dig that neon glow...


Olivia Newton-John, Gene Kelly, Michael Beck, James Sloyan

Cynthia Rhodes, Dimitra Arliss, Katie Hanley, Fred McCarren, Ren Woods, Sandahl Bergman, Lynn Latham, Melinda Phelps, Cherise Bates, Juliette Marshall, Marilyn Tokuda, Yvette Van Voorhees, Teri Beckerman, Marty Davis, Bebe Drake, Mickey McMeel, Aharon Ipalé Update Cast

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The concept for the film Xanadu came from a couple of different sources: Greek mythology (Zeus and the nine muses), and a poem by poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge which tells of a magical, mythical land. It begins, "In Xanadu did Kubla Khan a stately pleasure-dome decree, where Alph, the sacred river, ran through caverns measureless to man down to a sunless sea."

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Ask a person involved in the arts what influences them and they will tell you their inspiration can come from many different sources: music, dance, beautful women, magic. They may even quote the saying, "I was kissed by a muse". Sonny Malone derives his inspiration from all of these things and ends up with a life which could only have been blessed upon by the "gods".

Xanadu is set in sunny southern California where many dreams have been fulfilled. The story starts with young artist Sonny Malone (Michael Beck) who is fed up with his job reproducing album covers used as promotion to hang outside record stores. His manager is a stiff-lipped, pain-in-the-neck who doesn't appreciate Sonny's artistic insight, and in so doing is cramping Sonny's artistic abilities.

Sonny's manager, ironically, ends up helping Sonny out by handing him an album by a band called "The 9 Sisters", which has a luminously beautiful tan blonde (Olivia Newton-John) standing in front of the Pan Pacific Auditorium on its cover. The photographer claims that "There wasn't supposed to be a model in this shoot. I just did the shoot and when I looked over the proof sheets there she was, she just simply jumped into frame and then out. I liked it, so I used it for the album. Now don't go telling anyone about this. This is one of my best album covers." He has no idea who the girl is or where she came from. Sonny, coincidently, ends up bumping into this girl three times in one day and finds out her name is Kira ("Someone must be setting us up", Kira states). Someone is indeed setting them up, although Sonny doesn't find this out until much later.

Taking a walk along the beautiful beaches in Venice California, Sonny bumps into an aging musician named Danny McGuire, played by the charasmatic icon Gene Kelly, who is nostalgic for a lost love and a club he opened in 1945. Danny and Sonny form a quick friendship when they find out they both have a love for the arts and beautiful women.

Since Sonny needs a new outlet for his artistic expression and Danny wants to open another club, they decide to team up in finding a place to make both their dreams come true. That place ends up being the Pan Pacific Auditorium (like on the album cover) where Sonny had his first conversation with Kira. After an 80's dance sequence led by the very talented Gene Kelly and a shopping spree at a "franchise glitz dealer", Danny is all set to reemerge with a whole new style matching the "glitz" of the 80's.

Sonny and Kira's relationship has begun to become more serious, even having them rollerskate round a recording studio with many props to inspire and turning into animated fairy, bird and fish versions of themselves. They have fallen in love with each other, although Kira is still as big a mystery to Sonny as when they first met and there's a good reason for this.

Kira is a muse. One of the nine sister muses of greek mythology (hence the "9 Sisters" album), daughters of Zeus who are meant to inspire. Kira is not allowed to get emotionally involved or tell the person she's helping what she really is. She is ageless, and so even helped Danny's character, back in the 40's, become a successful musician.

Kira reluctantly breaks up with Sonny, who although he and Danny now have their new club which is a brilliant mix of the 40's and 80's, is heartbroken and doesn't want to lose her. After a conversation with her father Greek god Zeus, Kira talks him into making her a human being, free of all of her muse responsibilities.

This film is an original, eclectic mix of fantasy, music and 80's eye candy. A beautiful landmark of 1980, Xanadu transports the viewer to a place "Where time stops and the magic never ends".

Author: Bridgette MarieUpdate This Review


This movie defined the transition from the cynical 70's to the just-having-fun 80's. Being born and raised in Los Angeles County, it's great to watch this film and be taken away to California in 1980, a few months before I was born on February 3, 1981 (being a kid in the 80's was the best!).

It shows a great come back from Olivia Newton-John, who just prior to this film, was known from her role in Grease. An 80's must see.

Excellent music, amazing dancing, cute fantasy, original concept, a great beginning to the 80's.
Not for hard core cynics, but when it comes to 80's movies any true 80's lover is anything but a cynic!

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The Movie Data

Key Crew

Director: Robert Greenwald
Writer: Richard Christian Danus, Marc Reid Rubel
Producers: Brendan Cahill, Gary Goldman, Lawrence Gordon, Lee Kramer, Terence Nelson, Joel Silver
Locations Manager:

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Release Date: 08 Aug 1980
MPAA Rating: PG
Studio: Universal Pictures
Production: Universal Pictures
Genre: Dance / Music

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The Movie Trailer
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1980 Universal Pictures
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