A kind of magic exists when a movie has a formative affect on you. Your life is different from there on out. You’ve, oh I dunno, taken a bite of a giant, glistening, red and green apple while surrounded by ghouls and half-naked men and from there on out it’s all you can think about. I’ve had this experience with several movies in my life but few have had more of an impact than The Apple.
From the moment I first laid my eyes on its bright, colorful weirdness I wanted to share it with others. The movie is absolutely bonkers and admittedly… not very good. You could spend hours talking just about the many things wrong with it. But that is not my goal. Here, on the film’s 40th anniversary, I want to tell you just why I love this bat-shit crazy movie so much!
First off, if you haven’t ever seen The Apple, how dare you? I should give you a slap!
OK, I forgive you. To be truthfully honest, this magnificent motion picture has only been in my life for a handful of years. But since my first viewing, I have tried to make up for lost time by watching it so many times that my wife is both sick of it and can’t help but humming along. Before I go any further, let’s try to sum up just what The Apple is about. Here is a quick synopsis from the back of the Blu-Ray (which I own):
“In the glitzy, glittering futuristic world of 1994, music is king —- and the man who controls it is all-powerful malicious mogul Mr. Boogalow. Now he has his eye on two fresh-faced young singers, Alphie and Bibi, who score a hit at his WorldVision Song Festival and fall under the irresistible spell of fame, money, and temptation. As Bibi becomes a mammoth superstar, will Alphie be able to save her souls before it’s too late?”
Honestly, that description is a lot more coherent than the film itself. To really get a sense of the wonderfully nonsensical nature of the movie, let’s watch the trailer.
Ahhhh there it is. That’s the good stuff. For me, there is so much to love about this movie. Let’s start with the fact that everyone involved is clearly giving it their all. The results are just not what (I assume) they were expecting. There is endearing earnestness to this film, from the costumes to the singing to the dancing to the acting. It doesn’t feel like anyone here was out to make a bad movie.
Speaking of the dancing, The Apple was actually choreographed by Nigel Lythgoe of So You Think You Can Dance? fame! And dammit, the dancing is pretty great! Not only are there lots of impressive kicks and turns and taps, but so many of the background dancers are absolute pros. Each time you watch the movie you can pick a dancer and just follow them throughout. Watch them soak up every moment that they’re on screen.
While the movie was released in 1980, it is set in 1994. This presents yet another amazing aspect of The Apple as the filmmakers attempt to predict what 1994 will be like. Unsurprisingly, they miss the mark by quite a bit. Watch in amazement as everyone in the “future” dresses in shiny leotards with pointed shoulder pads and clad in BIM marks (stickers that regular citizens are forced to wear due to the ever-growing influence of Mr. Boogalow and his BIM corporation that is a talent agency but also has government influence?).
Oh, and the filmmakers! I’d be remiss if I did not mention that this was a Golan-Globus production. Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus were two Israeli born filmmakers who founded Cannon Films. They loved movies and were responsible for some of the worst in cinema history. They also helped launch the careers of people like Chuck Norris and Jean-Claude Van Damme. Golan directed this film and his… essence is all over it.
Last but not least, the music in The Apple is mesmerizing. Lyrics go back and forth between utterly ridiculous and incredibly overt. Characters often sing exactly what they’re thinking and feeling with zero subtlety. At one point, Alphie sings “they’ve got me with my back against the wall” and conveniently finds a wall to put his back against. Another song, aptly titled “Coming For You”, is about… well, exactly what it sounds like it’s about. However, look no further than the title song to find a little bit of everything I love about The Apple.
My love for The Apple runs deep. So deep that, in a time when people could gather in public places, I hosted a screening in midtown Manhattan at The Tank with a good friend of mine and fellow Apple lover, Mikael Page. We dressed up, a hilarious friend of ours, Angela Sharp, performed to kick off the evening, we watched the movie with others, played drinking games and had a blast. It’s honestly a memory I will cherish forever. And, for the “pics or it didn’t happen” crowd:
At the end of the day, I know that The Apple has its flaws. But if you take anything from this article (aside from an uncontrollable urge to watch the film) my hope is that it’s this message: it’s OK to like something bad. If something makes you smile but also features wild inconsistencies, inexplicable story beats or half cocked ideas, who cares?! It makes you smile.
I love The Apple and I can’t even fit everything I love about it into one article. I will be watching it on its anniversary happily, knowing full well that it won’t go down in history as a great or even a good movie. But I will enjoy it all the same and will share it with others for as long as I can.
Header Image Source: MGM