Reviewed by Jeff DeLuzio
Rating: 4 Beans
The life of Steve Rubell, Studio 54's creator might make a good film. Mike Myers, who gives 54's best performance as Rubell, would have been the man to carry that story, too. Unfortunately, we get very little of Rubell. Director Mark Christopher sails off in the same direction as "Titanic", and uses an interesting historical setting as a backdrop for a dull and cliche-ridden romance. Ryan Phillippe is the working joe seduced, and let down, by the big, bad, glitzy city. He has problems with his dad, of course, who drinks too much and disapproves of his son. Neve Campbell, small-time actress looking to get ahead, also realizes that it's all just so empty, and she was happier bowling in Jersey. The Big Important People despise, squeeze dry, and toss aside the Noble Little People and, though no one twirls a moustache whilst laughing a sinister laugh, this wouldn't be particularly out of place.
The film recreates the look of Studio 54, as best as I can tell from old footage, but once you get past its velvet ropes, you wonder why you came. If Christopher intended to use superficial filmmaking to capture a superficial place, he didn't succeed. The discotheque scenes resemble music videos, interrupted by bad dialogue and documentary-style narration.
As far as the famed 70s decadence goes, the film teases, hinting at wild sexual excess, but rarely showing it, and certainly never exploring it. The script foreshadows a couple of threesomes, but someone always backs out. The tragic overdose of a likeable disco granny gets made into a Big Point, but this works more as a simpleminded morality tale than a serious investigation of a lifestyle's darker side.
A portrayal of Studio 54 worth seeing would require a writer willing to capture unvarnished reality instead of overworn cliches, and a director who knew he was making a movie, rather than an extended music video. Apparently, neither was available.
"Boogie Nights" may be outright fiction but, as a comment on the 70s, and as a dramatic work, it buries this film.
Other reviews for this movie: