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September 08, 1998 - Image 23

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1998-09-08

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The Michigan Daily - Tuesday, September 8, 1998 - 23A

Weak plot puts '54'
at less than positive

By Matthew Barrett
Daily Arts Writer
There's no doubt that there are
plenty of interesting tales to be told
about the happenings inside the night
club Studio 54, but this isn't one of
them. "54," the story of the popular
New York spot of the late '70s and
early '80s is nothing more than the
million to one shot of a dreamy teen
from New Jersey who wants to make
it in the big city, and, surprise, ends
up doing it.
The picture starts with a dopey
voice-over which lets the audience
know that Shane (Ryan Phillippe) is
sick of his small-town life in New
Jersey and is ready to move on to the
big time. This gets the story off on
the wrong foot and sets the trend for
the annoyingly numerous voice-
overs that add nothing to "54." The

At Showcase
and State

fact that Shane
yearns for some-
thing bigger is
clear from the
moment the
movie starts, but
M a r k
wants to hit the
audience over
the head with
that fact.
R y a n
Phillippe, who

overs and clich6s, the story establish-
es the background of its main char-
acter and then chooses to show rather
than tell the audience what he was
At the head of the Studio 54 phe-
nomenon is club owner Steve Rubell.
Mike Myers shines in his first seri-
ous role as Rubell and is the film's
lone bright spot. Myers plays the sly,
pill-popping club owner to perfec-
tion and never falls back on the
goofy humor that made him a
Hollywood mainstay.
The best scene of "54" comes
when a tripped-out Rubell dumps
thousands of dollars on a bed and
then rolls around caressing it. From
the looks of things, it seems that this
is an every night occurrence and it
shows the audience that although he
may rule the club, Rubell doesn't
have anything going on in his life
outside of it. Through his subtle sup-
porting performance Myers shows
that his jump from comedy to drama
is no one-time gimmick.
Unfortunately, the Rubell charac-
ter is only a minor player in the
film's plot. The makers chose to
focus on a sappy long shot love story
between Shane and soap-sex-pot
Julie Black (Neve Campbell) and
tension within the Studio 54 family.
Both of these plotlines have massive
amounts of untapped potential.
The romance between Shane and
Julie is nothing more than Shane's
major crush on Julie, and their
inevitable hooking up. Campbell's
role is thankless, and she doesn't do
much with her underdeveloped char-
acter. She does, however, deserve
some credit for branching out from
the "Scream" franchise, even if it's
just for a year.
The 54 family, which consists of
the club's employees, is a rather
pathetic bunch who lie, steal and
sleep their way to the top. The audi-
ence doesn't care about these charac-
ters and as a result could care less as
they knife each other in the back.
First-time director Mark Christopher
seems incapable of telling this story,
although reports of reshoots and
reediting may be his alibi. He never
develops any sort of feeling for the


Courtesy of MiraiI
Ryan Philippe and Salma Hayek get less than groovy In "54," the Mark
Christopher film about the New York night club.
characters and depends too much on attempt at a love story that just does
voice-overs to carry the story. In n't work. And other than Myers
addition, he is very heavy handed impressive turn as Rubell, the film
and overdoes the symbolism in the has very few positives.
film's moment of revelation. It sure doesn't seem like as mud
Overall, "54" is a convoluted fun as a night in the club.
A w l~r-



: . :n :



gave the only inspired performance
in the slash-fest "I Know What You
Did Last Summer," is a major disap-
pointment in the central role. The
character of Shane is not built up
enough before he heads to New York,
and as a result he comes off as noth-
ing more than a hunky daydreamer
with a nice six pack. Phillippe never
connects with the audience at the
beginning, and as a result it is hard to
share in his joy when he succeeds or
care when he begins the inevitable
downward spiral from the top.
Those behind the film would have
done well to take a look at last year's
"Boogie Nights," a far superior film
made in the same vein as "54." In
"Boogie Nights," instead of bom-
barding the audience with voice

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1 Jenny "Gillette" Mudi'ey
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Alle "Mariab" Miles


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