HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
Newest Reviews
Avengers: Endgame
Vanishing Act
Critters Attack!
Prison on Fire
Dragged Across Concrete
Do the Right Thing
Hellboy
Pond Life
Lego Movie 2: The Second Part, The
Third Wife, The
Shazam!
Follow Me
Leto
Fugitive Girls
Missing Link
Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith, The
Pet Sematary
Oh... Rosalinda!!
Dumbo
Kaleidoscope
Night Is Short, Walk On Girl
Knight of Shadows: Between Yin and Yang, The
Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich
Klute
Meow
Killer Crocodile
Nutcracker Prince, The
Secret World of Og, The
Benjamin
Fifth Cord, The
Man Could Get Killed, A
Cyborg 009: Kaiju War
Heavy Trip
Nightmare Weekend
Blue Ice
Great Scout & Cathouse Thursday, The
Incident, The
Hell's Angels
Heaven and Earth
Flatliners
   
 
Newest Articles
Flight of the Navigator and the 80s Futurekids
Trains and Training: The British Transport Films Collection Volume 13 on DVD
Holiday from Hell: In Bruges on Blu-ray
The Comedy Stylings of Kurt Russell: Used Cars and Captain Ron
Robot Rocked: The Avengers Cybernauts Trilogy on Blu-ray
Hammer's Bloodthirsty Bad Girls 1970: Lust for a Vampire and Countess Dracula
Hammer to Fall: Kiss Me Deadly on Blu-ray
Home of the Grave: The House That Dripped Blood and Asylum on Blu-ray
Wondrous Women: Supergirl vs Captain Marvel
Things Have Changed: Films You'd Be Insane to Make Now
The Hole in the Ground: Director Lee Cronin Interview
She's Missing: Director Alexandra McGuinness Interview
Woo's the Boss: Last Hurrah for Chivalry & Hand of Death on Blu-ray
Get Ahead in Showbiz: Expresso Bongo and It's All Happening
Outer Space and Outta Sight: Gonks Go Beat on Blu-ray
   
 
  Super Xuxa vs. the Down Mood Believe in the power of sunshine and sexy samba movesBuy this film here.
Year: 1988
Director: Anna Penido, David Sonnenschein
Stars: Xuxa Meneghel, Nair Amorim, Guilherme Karan, Tuca Andrada, Manfredo Bahia, Jorge Crespo, Roberto Guimares, Henriqueta Brieba, Mauro Cesar, Maria Elisa Freire, Isabel Gomide, Fernanda Lobo, Vitor Hain, Oscar Marques
Genre: Musical, Comedy, Fantasy, Adventure
Rating:  7 (from 1 vote)
Review: On a mission to spread happiness throughout the land, Brazilian sexpot kids show host Xuxa (Xuxa Meneghel) rides around on a nifty white motorcycle handing out candy and positive vibes to children whilst singing about painting the sky with a rainbow. All of which proves too teeth-rottingly cute for Baixo Astral (Guilherme Karan), a malevolent subterranean-dwelling demon dedicated to upholding evil by means of war, famine, poverty and injustice. To foil his scantily-clad nemesis, Baixo Astral has his minions kidnap Xuxa's beloved glove puppet, er, talking dog Xuxo (voiced by Nair Amorim). He also abducts a young street urchin named Rafa, whose bad behaviour earns him an unwanted place amongst the demon's army of zombie brats. Plucky Xuxa promptly sets forth on a magical, at times downright metaphysical journey from the realm of Higher Ground into the dark domain of the Down Mood, to save not just her friends but also the world.

Quality coffee, samba music and a seemingly endless succession of gorgeous lingerie models all rank among Brazil's great gifts to the world. Add to that list one Maria da Graça Meneghel, better known by her stage name as Xuxa Meneghal: model, pop star, social activist, movie mogul, in short a one-woman entertainment industry. Only in Brazil could a scantily-clad sexpot who appeared nude in her debut film, controversial drama Amor Estranho Amor (1982), and later posed for Playboy, become the nation's most beloved children's entertainer without incurring the wrath of parents or moral guardians everywhere. God bless 'em. Xuxa started out as a model at the age of sixteen whereupon her relationship with football legend Pelé opened a career path into music, movies and crucially children's television. Her blonde bombshell looks and skimpy outfits may have established her as a sex symbol but it was a sweet disposition, sunny charm and evident sincerity along with a winning way with kids that endeared her to millions of youngsters across Latin America, qualities pushed to the fore in each of her films.

Super Xuxa contra Baixo Astral, known internationally as Super Xuxa versus the Down Mood and in the States as Super Xuxa vs. Satan (which would be something to see but is not strictly accurate), was Xuxa's breakthrough movie. After this her films regularly topped the Brazilian box office including Xuxa in Crystal Moon (1991), a version of Cinderella, Xuxa Abracadabra (1999) and a string of comedies pairing her with popular comedy group Os Trapalhões, notably the effects-laden Star Wars parody A Princessa Xuxa e os Trapalhões (1989). Her most recent success was the fairytale-themed Xuxa em O Misterio de Feiurinha (2009) co-starring her daughter, Sasha Meneghel.

Latin American children's films take their cue from Technicolor classics like The Wizard of Oz (1939), trading in bright colours, homespun morality and feelgood warmth without a trace of the irony commonplace throughout contemporary kids' fare. Yet Super Xuxa contra Baixo Astral juxtaposes its upbeat message against a disarmingly dark gothic sensibility. Art director Yuriko Yamasaki - who went on to direct several Xuxa movies - fashions Baixo Astral's subterranean kingdom into a nightmarish netherworld midway between a heavy metal rock video complete with dry ice and strobe lighting and a Terry Gilliam movie, whilst the creepy-eyed, drooling villain himself looks like something Clive Barker might have dreamed up. It has to be said the film steals shamelessly from mainstream fare, pilfering not just its villain and production design from Gilliam's Time Bandits (1981) but the satanic game show sequence, the possessed television set from Poltergeist (1982), the penultimate "light in the darkness" scene from The Neverending Story (1984), twisted visuals from the far from appropriate Hellraiser (1987) and most obviously, images and ideas from the Jim Henson favourite Labyrinth (1986), something even Brazilian critics noted at the time. But writer-director Anna Penido steers these elements down another, uniquely unhinged direction.

Although the comedy is pitched at pre-school level and Xuxa's vivacious pop songs, including the chart-topping "Rainbow", remain an acquired taste, the puppetry is really quite accomplished - particularly the underwater sequence where Xuxa rides a pink dolphin and hangs out with singing sea life - and the cinematography creates a vividly hallucinogenic feel. Shame they could not include Xuxa's big pink UFO from her TV show. Nevertheless, the film is staged with great energy and visual flair while Xuxa proves an undeniably peppy and charismatic presence. Most intriguingly, the film sports a genuine socio-political agenda, although which side of the fence it sits on remains somewhat ambiguous. The opening scene wherein Xuxa encourages kids to paint glum buildings in rainbow colours brings to mind the Brazilian government's policy of painting the favelas (local slums) in bright pastel shades to hide their squalor from the tourist trade. Towards the finale, Baixo Astral attempts to sap Xuxa of her powers of positivity by waving a demonic TV screen showing images of war atrocities and famine. She responds by averting her eyes, which suggests ignoring social problems is the key to maintaining a positive attitude. Hardly a sound message for kids.

On the other hand, throughout the film Xuxa repeatedly ask questions (in song of course) about social deprivation, the state of the environment, and why so little of Brazil's resources are spent feeding the poor. This questioning attitude is more in line with the messages at the heart of Xuxa's television shows and her real-life charity work combating child illness and exploitation. In a key scene, Xuxa climbs a tree lined with books, acting on the advice of wise Grandma Turtle who remarks that books a seeds that sprout ideas. As she climbs, colourful freaky-looking bird creatures assail her with philosophical debates satirising political corruption, big business despoiling the environment, political indifference to poverty, media manipulation and stifling bureaucracy. Eventually, Xuxa reaches the top where the Magic Crystal schools her about the power of positivity and making a difference in the world. While simplistic (this is a kids' movie, after all), the core message that only education can enable young people to overthrow oppression and achieve true freedom is both potent and heartening. That it is delivered in the form of a pop song performed by a sexily gyrating supermodel is simply a bonus.

Reviewer: Andrew Pragasam

 

This review has been viewed 1923 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 
Review Comments (0)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Which star do you think makes the best coffee?
Emma Stone
Anna Kendrick
Michelle Rodriguez
Sir Patrick Stewart
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Andrew Pragasam
  Rachel Franke
Paul Shrimpton
  Desbris M
Enoch Sneed
  Derrick Smith
Darren Jones
   

 

Last Updated: