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54 Review

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Studio 54 is the hottest nightclub in 1970s New York - a haven of hot dancing, hot girls and even hotter drugs, all overseen by owner Steve Rubell (Mike Myers). But all good things must come to an end...

★★★★★

A prime example of what can happen when a film is made by committee rather than by filmmaker, 54 originally started out as a controversial love triangle set against the backdrop of Studio 54, the infamous club owned by flamboyant entrepreneur Steve Rubell. Throw in some judicious pruning however, at the behest of a distributor anxious not to rock the censorial boat, and the result is pallid to say the least.

What plot there is has New Jersey kid Shane O'Shea (Phillippe, presumably selected for his ability to fill a pair of satin shorts), bypassing the club's velvet rope one night by taking his shirt off in front of Rubell (Myers). He is swiftly given a job as a (shirtless) barman at the club, befriends coat-check girl and wannabe diva Anita (Hayek) and her husband Greg (Meyer) and falls into a romance with soap opera queen Julie Black (Campbell). But the club's future comes under threat when Rubell's dodgy dealings come to light.

While there's potential here for a cracking story, 54 comes across as little more than Boogie Nights-lite, only lacking the wit, characterisation and sense of the times. Myers does well in his first largely serious role but Hayek, Meyer and Campbell are utterly wasted while pretty-boy Philippe spends most of the movie looking lost and puzzled.

Its ultimate undoing, however, is the sheer lack of danger; despite the fact that stories from the club's documented history range from cocaine on-tap to folks openly shagging at the tables, such behaviour is largely absent from the movie so when anything remotely outlandish does crop up, it sticks out like a hugely embarrassing sore thumb. It looks attractive, and is enlivened somewhat by the soundtrack's obligatory disco dinosaurs, but those expecting any real insight into the 70s club scene will come away hugely disappointed.

Sanitised and dramatically inept retelling of the history of one of the great sleazy success (and failure) stories. Best head out to a nightclub instead.

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