SEX DRUGS AND DISCO HIT FUNKYTOWN
When the opening scene of a film features a naked couple doing the nasty accompanied by a voiceover which states, “There is no rhyme or reason to life. You think you’re doing okay and the next thing you know, you’re miles away from home, in bed with a stranger, tired and strung out wondering, ‘What wrong turn did I take to get here?’— then my interest is piqued immediately.
Funkytown, directed by Daniel Roby and written by Steve Galluccio is jam packed with juicy retorts. Lines like:
“When did we let those Goddamn cock-sucking disco cunts take over?”
“Because you think just by the tone of my voice he’ll know I’m blowing you.”
“Do I have stupid written on my face, motherfucker?”
are all perfectly delivered and kept me howling. In fact the entire movie unfolds like a Dynasty episode with a major case of potty mouth.
The flick is loosely based on the true story of Canadian TV and radio personality Alan Montpetit and the flamboyant on-air fashion and style guru Douglas CoCo Leopold and their exploits in and around the Limelight disco in Montreal, Quebec, Canada circa 1976-1980 when the city had the reputation of being the nightlife capital of the world. Although I was unfamiliar with the “true” aspects of the tale, the film’s plot contrivances lead me to believe that great liberties have been taken with the story. In the end all the bad guys get their comeuppance and the good guys (there are very few of them) reign triumphant. If you’ve spent much time on this planet, you long ago came to the realization that there is not that much poetic justice in the real world. Only in the mind of a screenwriter can all the strings be so neatly tied.
The names have all been changed, presumably to protect the innocent and to let Mr. Galluccio’s imagination run wild. The “Limelight” is now called “Starlight” (so progressive it even has a “homo” floor), Alan M is now Bastien Lavallee (Patrick Huard) and CoCo is now Jonathan Aaronson (Paul Doucet). They are joined in the fun by fame hungry supermodel Adriana (Sarah Mutch), a closeted waiter-slash-best disco dancer ever named Tino (Justin Chatwin), an old and sleazy unscrupulous talent manager-slash- entrepreneur named Gilles (Raymond Bouchard) and a host of supporting characters of just about every ilk imaginable. All of the performances are on the money and very easy to watch. Sex, drugs, cheating, betrayal, love, hate, success, failure, deception, and most other forms of depravity are all alive and well and thriving on the dance floor.
Roby has beautifully captured the era and successfully serves up a captivating snapshot of a time when disco ruled the world. The soundtrack is spectacular and is aptly used, not only as simple background noise, but as a character unto itself to further the plot, often heightening the on-screen action.
The best way to enjoy Funkytown is to just sit back and let it all unfold. With all its multitudinous subplots it’s more a soap opera than a feature film, and needs to be appreciated as such. There’s even a political plot dealing with Quebec’s “independence referendum,” which sets the tone of the time but amounts to little more than a distraction. Although the action gets a bit bogged down trying to tie up all the loose ends in the last act, the journey is still an enjoyable one. If for nothing else than the free flowing zingers, it’s worth a viewing. By the way, since the film does take place in Montreal, half of the dialogue is in French with English subtitles so don’t forget your glasses—come to think of it, they won’t hurt for that opening scene, either.
photos by Jan Thijs
Directed by Daniel Roby
rating: not rated; runtime 132 minutes
available on DVD October 2, 2012
in English and French with English subtitles
available at Wolfe Video