Jack (Steve Guttenberg) quits his job with the dream of writing his own hit records. His flatmate, Samantha (Valerie Perrine) is a retired model who has contacts within the showbiz industry, and sets about assembling a group of singers for Jack's disco tunes. The singers dress up in various costumes as a gimmick, but will their novel look and Jack's music prove to be a dynamite combination?
Well there's an unfortunate title, for a start. For a time The Village People were huge all over the world, assembled by writer/producer Jacques Morali in the late seventies to sing his songs and subsequently scoring huge hits with "Y.M.C.A." and "In the Navy". However, this was now the eighties, as the characters never tire of telling each other, and the Village People were quickly finding out their time had passed - disco was yesterday's music and the film was a disaster. Indeed, the original lead singer had left shortly before filming began.
Producer Allan Carr wrote the script, with Bronte Woodard, as a follow up to his blockbuster musical success Grease. Can't Stop the Music is more like a "putting on a show" musical from the forties in structure, with it's endlessly enthusiastic cast never letting anything stand in their way to success. But if you're expecting light, frothy camp you'll be disappointed, because what you get is like wading through glitzy sludge.
There are too many people in this film; not ten minutes go by before yet another character is introduced, cluttering up the storyline with laboured wisecracks or, in the case of Bruce Jenner, laboured slapstick (when you notice how heavily they're relying on lasagne for humour, you know they're in trouble). You would have thought the Village People would be the centre of attention, but they end up placed firmly in the background for Samantha's tedious romance to take the limelight.
Where the group do star is in the musical numbers, the most famous of which is "Y.M.C.A", filmed in such an establishment, complete with athletic young men bounding around or getting undressed in the locker rooms. It's actually the most overtly gay sequence in the film - the Village People's gay fanbase would have been shortchanged by the whole enterprise, because the film is reluctant to face that aspect of the group's music and appearance. Elsewhere, for example, we are offered a number about drinking milk which has no double meanings at all. It's no wonder disco fizzled out if this was what it led to - stick with Saturday Night Fever instead.