Cadinho93’s review published on Letterboxd:
🎶A place where nobody dared to go, The love that we came to know, They call it Xanadu…🎶
Xanadu is one of the most critically and commercially panned films in Hollywood history, a "Nouveau Art" musical with Art Deco themes, a weirdly conceived animated interlude and performances of such widely varying caliber that a viewer might wonder if the actors were all reading from the same script!, but all that being said, I would like to offer a minority opinion and say that I didn't find the film THAT terrible and there are some aspects of it I actually enjoyed.
First and foremost, it offers the legendary Danny McGuire (Gene Kelly) in his last musical, as charming and wonderful as ever. As retired musician/businessman Danny McGuire (Gene Kelly) has the film's best moments, including a classic song-and-dance scene with Kira (Olivia Newton-John) and some silly, but endearing "post-disco" routines with the talented young dancers of the cast. Seeing him on roller-skates again, leading everyone around the club he builds, to the music of the Electric Light Orchestra, makes one realize just how irreplaceable he is. Gene Kelly could do it all and with style!
The premise of the film of a Muse coming from Olympus to inspire an artist, is far-fetched, but had been done on film several times in the past: "One Touch of Venus", with Ava Gardner and Robert Walker, as well as "Down to Earth", with Rita Hayworth, are the examples most often cited and Olivia Newton-John is cast in the role, she tackles it gamely, with a smile, a wink and is lovely to look at. On the other hand, Sonny Malone (Michael Beck) is the artist she falls in love with. An actor with a bit of range and always found to be underrated, especially in this film.
While the film often veers off in bizarre directions, the "Battle of the Bands" scene between popular '80s rockers, the Tubes and a 'Tommy Dorsey/WWII'-style orchestra as Michael Beck and Gene Kelly envision what the "look" and "sound" of their club, "Xanadu" should be, actually works and is fun to watch. The entire score, by Barry De Vorzon, John Farrar, Jeff Lynne (Electric Light Orchestra) is terrific and made the soundtrack album a hit.
The film itself may be a bit dated, but it's still well-done and the music is timeless! I will say that most people have to be in the right mindset to watch it. Most musicals require intelligence to stay through and this is one that was just good, period.
Overall, Xanadu is only a charming fairy tale, nothing more and this is a real virtue because it gives the atmosphere of a period, Gene Kelly at the end of his splendid career, beautiful choreography, memorable songs and the shining Olivia Newton John make the film come alive.