Music Video of the Day: I Can Dream About You by Dan Hartman (1984, dir. ???)

Sorry if this is short, but I’ve spent the past week watching all 65 episodes of Jem, so that I could properly “enjoy” the 2015 live-action adaptation.

Short version: The movie is awful.

Long version: Fans of the series are going to be incredibly disappointed because huge things are taken out, and many things are gutted. They won’t like it.

People who aren’t fans of the series are not going to like it either. It tries to graft elements of a show that would require quite a lot of money to do with special effects as well as more shooting time. The movie is very low budget. As a result, those things will only confuse this audience. It also causes the movie to make huge leaps, plot and character-wise. It’s always nice when a character talks about a bunch of time that has passed when we just saw it a few minutes ago.

The movie is for no one.

On the series, Jerrica created the alternate identity of Jem because she was clever business-wise, and used the money to fund a home for foster girls.

In the movie, Jerrica gets noticed on YouTube and becomes an overnight success that is taken advantage of, but ends up coming out on top.

Funny enough, that kind of has to do with this music video.

Back in 1984, a movie called Streets Of Fire was released. They wanted Hartman to do a song for it, so he gave them I Can Dream About You. They were going to have someone else sing it, and have a fictional group called The Sorels, lip-sync it in the movie.

Hartman told them that they could do that so long as if they ever decided to release the song as a single or on the soundtrack, that they would use his voice. They did just that, and the song did very well. It helped make him an overnight success, even though he had been around since the early-70s.

That brings us to the video.

Our avatar into the video is a woman played by Joyce Hyser. You remember her, right? She played the lead in Just One Of The Guys (1985).

Just One Of The Guys (1985, dir. Lisa Gottlieb)

Just One Of The Guys (1985, dir. Lisa Gottlieb)

You know, part one of the crossdressing trilogy.

That isn’t a thing? Darn you, IMDb! You are usually so perfect.

It was also refaked in 2006 as She’s The Man. A movie insultingly inferior to the original.

She enters the bar and puts the the section of the film where The Sorels are sining the song on a jukebox. This sets us in the mindset of someone watching the movie. They think that The Sorels are really singing the song.

Slowly but surely she begins to realize that while their performance is excellent, the song is actually coming from the nondescript bartender.

In the end, we get a really clever bit. We keep cutting back to The Sorels, which reminds us why they were in the movie. Then Hartman gets up on the bar, and does a lame little dance that is nothing next to what the actors are doing that are playing The Sorels. It doesn’t matter though, because you are now seeing and hearing the person who wrote the song. Despite his performance abilities, they are his words, and are being sung with his voice.

It’s a nice little condensed way of starting the audience with the performance from the film that they are familiar with, and slowly inching us over to the person behind The Sorels.

They shot the video at the Hard Rock in London.

Technically, the version performed in the movie was sung by a guy named Winston Ford. But you get the idea.

If you want to hear the other version, then you can either watch the movie, or the other video that I swear doesn’t use Hartman’s voice. It’s close, but doesn’t sound like it matches up exactly. It is the one that uses the performance from the film, with some other footage from the movie cut into it.

Only ten years after this, Hartman died of an AIDS-related brain tumor at the age of 43.


Embracing the Melodrama Part II #70: Staying Alive (dir by Sylvester Stallone)

StayingaliveOh my God, this is so bad.

The 1983 film Staying Alive is a sequel to Saturday Night Fever.  That’s right, Tony Manero’s back!  And, if possible, he’s even dumber than before.

Actually, that’s not fair.  The whole point of Saturday Night Fever was that Tony really was not that dumb.  He was poorly educated.  He was a prisoner of his culture and his economic situation.  If he acted stupid, it was because he lived in a world that distrusted intelligence.  If he was selfish, it was because that was his way of dealing with his own insecurities.  If we got frustrated with him, it’s because we knew he was capable of more than he realized he was.  In Saturday Night Fever, John Travolta gave such good performance and Tony was such a carefully drawn character that we forgave him for the many times that he let us down.

But, in Staying Alive, Tony is just an idiot.  Somehow, he’s managed to escape Brooklyn.  He now works as a waiter and a dance instructor and goes on auditions for Broadway shows.  He has no contact with his old friends.  (He never even mentions the night that one of them jumped off a bridge.)  He lives in one of those scary New York flophouses — apparently the same one that Travis Bickle called home in Taxi Driver — but otherwise, Tony’s doing pretty well for himself.  The only problem is that Tony is now a complete and total moron.

That really is the only conclusion that one can draw from John Travolta’s performance here.  It’s not just that Travolta gives a bad performance in a role for which he was once nominated for an Oscar.  It’s that Travolta gives such a bad performance that he actually transcends the accepted definition of bad.  He resurrects all the tics from his Saturday Night Fever performance but he goes so overboard with them that you feel like you’re watching someone do an imitation of John Travolta playing Tony Manero than actually watching John Travolta.

Speaking of self-parody, Staying Alive was directed by Sylvester Stallone.  Now, I know that when you think of the ideal director for a dance movie, Sylvester Stallone is probably the first name that comes to mind.

As for the film itself, Tony gets a job working in the chorus of a Broadway show called Satan’s Alley and, wouldn’t you know it, he eventually replaces the male lead.  Tony finds himself torn between the bitchy (and, somewhat inevitably, British) star of the show (Finola Hughes) and his long-suffering, on-and-off again girlfriend Jackie (Cynthia Rhodes).

Jackie, incidentally, is also the lead singer in a band.  The band’s guitarist, Carl, is in love with her.  Guess who plays Carl?  Frank Stallone!  That’s right, the director’s brother.  There is a hilarious scene where Carl plays guitar while shooting a death glare at Tony.  Frank really nails that death glare.

But, ultimately, the main appeal of Staying Alive is that we get to see Satan’s Alley, which is probably the most unintentionally hilarious fake Broadway show to ever be immortalized on film.  Satan’s Alley is about one man’s journey into Hell and… well, that really sums it up, doesn’t it?  If you asked someone who has never danced, never listened to music, and perhaps never actually stepped outside of their bedroom to write a Broadway musical, chances are that they would come up with something like Satan’s Alley.

And they’d probably cast Tony Manero as the lead!