[Originally published in Movietone News 66-67, March 1981]
Disbelief. Right in the middle of the â€œY.M.C.A.â€ number, which is right in the middle of Can’t Stop the Music, one feels one’s mouth actually hanging open. Good grief! Is this really happening? Members of a musical group called the Village People (who play streetwise dudes recruited to form an impromptu ensemble of singers/dancers) and Valerie Perrine (their manager) and Bruce Jenner (a tax lawyer with the hots for Perrine) sweep into a real Y.M.C.A. and begin performing all manner of athletic endeavor, all to a disco beat. And it‘s all just awful. I don’t mean just the shots that you might be visualizing nowâ€”slowmotion splitscreen guys twirling through the air, a line of men diving sideways into a swimming pool Ã la Busby Berkeley. Those are there, all right, but we’re also treated to wildly awkward shots, like a group of nude guys horsing around in the showers (yup, you see everything down to their knees), or a whirlpool bath shot of Perrine’s breasts bobbing out of the water. These shots are even repeated during this montageâ€”to Dolby music, mind. What makes them so jarringly out of place (uhâ€”the shots, that is) is the uncertainty and the weirdness in the shifts from candy-flavored lightheartedness to an uncomfortable kind of wishful frankness. The problem with this sequence is the problem with the movie: Are we to view this pursuit of high spirits as sincere, or is the whole thing supposed to be a joke?