54 Cover It has been said that if you can remember the seventies, then you most probably wasn't there. Moreover, it has also been said, that a bird in a hand is worth two in the bush. OK. So what the f*ck do both of these statements have in common? Huh? Well, nothing really. Except for maybe in this film, Directed by: Mark Christopher; and Starring: Ryan Christopher, Mike Myers, Nerve Campbell, and Salma Hayek. But only in 1998, and for about 93 minutes.


On the surface, 'Studio 54' appears to be the hottest nightclub in New York City. Constantly populated with a whole host of glamorous celebrities and pretty people, hand picked at the door by the owner himself, Steve Rubell (Mike Myers).

However, underneath the surface, its a world not akin to our own. Just ask the Jersey boy, Shane O’Shea (Ryan Phillipps), if you don't believe me. As one night he manages to get into this discoteque, only to meet and greet the following people:
  • Greg (Breckin Meyer): A wannabe player that peddles dope on the side, because he can't seem to rise up the ranks any other way. 
  • Anita (Salma Hayek): Greg's girlfriend. Who flaunts her vocal talents as well as her charms to make ends meet. 
  • Billie (Sela Ward): A high-flying mover and shaker, who helps Shane through the highways and byways of life, by getting him known and by getting him laid. 
  • And of course, Steve Rubell: An aging dope addict that is one part party-animal, and one part misguided. 

No. Don't fret, pal. I haven't forgotten about the movie starlet, Julie Black (Neve Campbell). Who over time witnesses Shane meteoric rise from busboy, to topdog, to media-darling, to betrayer, lover, and gilted son.

But then again, that's most probably why what next transpires is a right jive ass bummer if ever I saw one. As a drugs bust leads to a fall - a stark fade leads to a ball - a death leads to an eventual rebirth - and please remember, folks, disco will leave this God forsaken Earth.

I kid you not, dear reader. Four words sprung to mind as soon as I sat down and watched 'Studio 54'. The first word was 'Honest': because on a purely visceral level, this film does appear very-very honest. The next word would be 'funky': because... well... most of the music in it really is. After that, I'd say 'fractured' mulled into my mind: because in places, certain story strands didn't follow through to a logical conclusion, and only seemed to drift or jolt like a dying bird wafting in the breeze. Plus the final word was 'semi-autobiographical': because without putting too finer point on it, the tone of this film does feel like 'a rites of passage' for its central character, Shane O’Shea.

Salma Hayak and Ryan Christopher in 54
Yeah. I'm not jiving your jerky, movie pals. Overall this film was a right blast to watch. The acting was great across the board. The music was very disco through and through. And as a conceptual narrative goes -- yeah -- this slice of cinema is one for the history buffs I'm sure.

However, where this film does do the splits, is within it's broken emotional narrative and plot structure. One minute a character is happy. The next minute they are sad. Plus there is no rhyme nor reason to explain why this is so.

Mike Myers in Studio 54

Ryan Christopher and Nerve Campbell in Studio 54
For example, there was this one scene that did annoy me quite a bit, where Greg catches Anita and Shane in a somewhat comprising position. But instead of Greg punching Shane in the face, and then giving him a good kicking. What he ends up doing is smashing up Anita’s equipment like a man possessed -- plus -- the next you see them all together again in the same scene, they are toasting with drinks during a holiday dinner.

Studio 54

Studio 54 DVD
Now is it just me, or doesn't this seem somewhat strange to you? Wait a minute! I know what I will do to figure this out. It's trivia-time, folks! (1) 'Miramax' first released this $13 million dollar production on the 28th of August, 1998, and clawed back $16 million dollars at the box-office. (2) The majority of this movie was shot on location throughout Ontario and New York City. In New York, you might notice the state of Manhattan, plus the externals of 'Studio 54'. Whereas in Ontario, you might notice Casa Loma, the Drake Hotel, Hillsdale Avenue East, Old Don Jail, Parkwood Estate, the Tulip Restaurant, and a studio based in Marine Terminal 28, Toronto. (3) At one point or another Dolph Lundgren was considered for the role of Greg, and James Marsden was considered for the role of Shane. (4) It took the writer / director of this project, Mark Christopher, five years to research 'Studio 54'. And it took the production studio, Miramax, two years to buy the rights to it. (5) At the time it was believed that this movie was seriously hindered by another disco based movie -- Whit Stillman's, 'The Last Days of Disco' -- because that production was released three months beforehand. (6) Not only was this the first feature film directed by Mark Christopher, but it was also Mike Myers first dramatic film role. (7) Although the period this drama was meant to represent ranges from the summer of 1979, to the summer of 1981, the character which Sean was meant to represent, Tieg Thomas, only worked at the club in question from 1977 to 1982. (8) About a decade after this flick was first shown; Mark decided to reassemble a 'bootleg' version, with 45 minutes of never before seen footage, which included all of things that was cut out of its original release. This includes Shane blatant bisexuality, as well as the pivotal love triangle elements between the three principal characters.

Ryan ChristopherMike MyersNerve Campbell 

Woody Allen and Michael Jackson in Studio 54
Hey! Did you take note of point 8 in my trivial splurge? That's most probably why 'Studio 54' turned out in the way it did. Mind you, this is not to say that the whole film feels fractured. Oh no. It’s just in those parts where emotion and character development are concerned.

So, all in all, I'd say that this film was a fairly good film. The songs were all groovey. The cast were very tasteful. And generally speaking, this is one to watch if you enjoy a rites of passage tale that you can really jive to. Don't you agree disco-lovers?

Nuff said.


STUDIO 54 STUDIO 54 Reviewed by David Andrews on September 12, 2013 Rating: 5
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