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Picks and Pans Review: Flashdance

updated 05/02/1983 at 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 05/02/1983 01:00AM

True, it is something like a Saturday Night Feverette. But this spirited rock musical about a young factory worker go-go dancer in Pittsburgh who aspires to be a ballerina is the best kind of adolescent fantasy: colorful, involving and full of leaping, prancing energy. Jennifer Beals, the Chicago-born Yale Drama freshman who stars, is wonderful; she's a lithe, exuberant dancer and has one of those magical faces that seem innocent one moment, darkly knowing the next. She's onscreen and dancing most of the time, which is just as well, since the plot is dopey. How does it happen, for instance, that a 17-year-old girl, even one anxious to build a nest egg so she can study dancing, manages to get a job as a welder? Why would she fall in love with her dippy plant foreman—especially as he is played by Search for Tomorrow alumnus Michael Nouri, who looks so much like Chico Marx you keep expecting him to pull out his seltzer bottle? What happened to her family? The screenplay, by Rolling Stone writer Joe Eszter-has and Tom (A Circle of Two) Hedley, takes some mawkish turns, too: Beals' mentor dies just before Beals gets her big chance—"Dance one for the Gipper" seems to be the unspoken line. There are, though, some nice small performances by Kyle (Young Doctors in Love) Heffner as an aspiring comic, Sunny (Animal House) Johnson as Beals' best friend and Phil (Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman) Bruns as Johnson's father. The music, including original tunes by Giorgio Moroder and records by such rockers as Kim Carnes and Joan Jett, is slick and urgent. Director Adrian (Foxes) Lyne and cinematographer Don Peter-man have also set up an appealing if ostentatious sideshow of lighting effects. Lyne obviously profits from Beals' presence, but he never condescends to the youthful audience he's aiming for. While Lyne himself is 42, he seems to remember and respect how splendid it is to be young, ambitious, in love and able to laugh about it all. (R)

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