Flashdance (1983)

(On Cable TV, March 2017) Sometimes, watching popular hits from decades past is enough to make you wonder what they were thinking back then. Some movies don’t age well, and for all of the box-office dollars that Flashdance accumulated in 1983, a lot of it just feels silly today. The premise itself seems like a jumble of words, as a welder-by-day and burlesque-dancer-by-night dreams of becoming a professional dancer. The only thing standing in the way of her dreams in a pre-YouTube era is an admission to a dance school. Much of the film is spent on the way from dream to reality, frequently interrupted by music videos. That last part isn’t much of an exaggeration: Director Adrian Lyne clearly aped then-new format of music videos in blatantly stopping the film for musical set pieces, hand-waving them as performance art in a burlesque club. It works up to a point, until we get exasperated that the simplistic story isn’t going anywhere. This focus on music videos is obvious from the wall-to-wall hit soundtracks—alas, it’s all early-eighties pop, which sounds terrible today. At least Jennifer Beals is very likable at the lead—she’s quite a bit better than the movie surrounding her. Flashdance is also notable for bringing together filmmakers who would then go on to have big careers, particularly producers Bruckheimer/Simpson and screenwriter Joe Ezharas. If you’re not watching from a historical perspective, the film is a dud—the story is linear, the interludes too frequent and the romance is bolted together out of narrative convenience. There are far better movies from 1983, and they have all aged much better than this one.

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