- Rated R
- Buy the DVD
Reviewed by Jeff Giles
early a quarter-century after its theatrical release, it’s still hard to know exactly how to feel about “Flashdance.” It’s had far too much of an influence on subsequent films to be dismissed as simply a lightweight piece of ‘80s fluff – and yet, watching it now, there’s no denying its overwhelming lack of a central…anything, really.
The plot – smokin’ hot teenage welder aspires to become classically trained dancer – is perfectly ludicrous; of course, it also happens to be based on the true story of welder/stripper Maureen Melder, who ended up signing away the cinematic rights to her life for a couple grand before the movie came out. This sad cautionary tale also serves as a pretty perfect analogy for the movie, actually – there’s something real in here, and it could have made it to the screen, but the people involved were too shortsighted to see it through.
Or hell, maybe they weren’t; it’s hard to argue with the kind of cultural penetration “Flashdance”achieved, or the way director Adrian Lyne, for better or worse, put his intensely visual stamp on the films of the ‘80s (and beyond). For all the hullabaloo raised at the time over Lyne’s smoke machine fetish and quick-cut editing antics, it’s interesting to note how much further along his style has been pushed in the intervening years; compared to your average modern blockbuster action movie, “Flashdance”actually seems almost quaintly slow.
Still, there’s a reason the movie’s Oscar nominations all had to do with music, editing, or cinematography; whether you’re scrutinizing the dialogue or the storyline, the script alternates between wooden and laughable. Beals, of course, is thoroughly likable – Elizabeth Berkley would have done well to watch this movie a few dozen times before jumping into the similarly dunderheaded (and, not coincidentally, Joe Eszterhas-scripted) “Showgirls”– but there’s only so much she can do with what she’s given. Anyway, she was only a teenager when the movie was made, and must have been excited to get her first big break; conversely, Michael Nouri was 36 at the time, and turned down a Sam Peckinpah movie to do this. Based on the script.
The Peckinpah anecdote is related by Nouri in one of the extras stuffed into this “Collector’s Edition”; though Beals opted out of this stroll down memory lane, pretty much all of her surviving castmates, not to mention a number of the people involved behind the scenes, show up at some point to wax rhapsodic about the wonder of “Flashdance.” (It bears mentioning that, although Beals must be sick and tired of talking about the role that made her famous, it’s far from the most embarrassing moment in a career that includes turns in “The Prophecy II”and “Catch That Kid.” Dance with them what brought you, Jennifer.) The various “making of ‘Flashdance’” documentaries are about what you’d expect – a drizzling of interesting facts spread over a chocolaty mountain of self-important hoo-ha – but if you already own the movie on DVD and you’re even thinking about buying this, then it’s probably something you need to have. For everyone else, simply waiting for the next showing on basic cable will probably suffice.