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Disco Week#2: Thank God It’s Friday (1978)

Our Disco Week continues with a film that…well, isn’t that good.

As I said at the end of last article, lots of studios and music labels tried to capitalized the successful of Saturday Night Fever that Paramount Pictures and RSO Records made. In 1978, one year after SNF was released, we have a film that CLEARLY tried to capitalize this trend called Thank God It’s Friday from Columbia Pictures, Casablanca Records (home of artists such as Donna Summer and KISS), and Motown Records (home of artists such as The Commodores and Diana Ross). Holy cow, could this be anymore obvious? Just look at the title! Since Saturday was used and nobody wanted to see a Disco movie called “Damn! Not Monday again”, they chose Friday since , for some people, it’s their last working day…that means they can go out and have fun that night.

I acknowledged this film for the first time when Donna Summer, who also appeared in this film, passed away few years ago. At the time, I was in China with my family and I read a short tribute article written by Brad Jones (a.k.a. The Cinema Snob) on his website. There’s a part in which he said that he used to watch this film a lot when he was a DJ. This somehow made me want to watch the film.  So when I came back to my country I tried finding this movie and watched it. I remember that I didn’t like it, but I had no idea why. So I’m going to watch it again today so I can know why I did not (and still don’t) like this film.

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Let’s begin with the plot, I guess

I have no idea how to explain the plot considering, that the film consists of many events from many characters that have a good time in a discotheque called “The Zoo”. Here’s an example of characters in the film…

– an aspiring singer (played by Donna Summer) who wants to sing at this club so bad, she clumsily tries everything to make sure that she will make that dream come true here.
– a new DJ at the discotheque who begins his job today. He also has to get The Commodores right on time, otherwise he’ll get fired.
– Two girls (one of them is played by Terri Nunn, who later became famous by being a lead singer of Berlin) that wants to participate in dancing contest to buy KISS concert ticket. Unfortunately, they are too young to enter this club.
– a couple who decides to have a date at disco. As you may guess, at first a guy hates it, but then he enjoys this place more than his girlfriend.
– an asshole club owner (played by Jeff Goldblum) who decides to flirt with somebody’s girlfriend.

Actually, there’s more. But most of them are either bland or extremely annoying, which leads me to the first problem of this film…

Who are these people? Why do we have to love them?

Of course, some of them look really gorgeous (we’ll get into that in a minute), but the characters in this film lack any dimension. I know that it’s supposed to be a light-hearted film (which is totally different than SNF), but some characters are annoying and I hope they will be gone soon. A perfect example of this is a guy named Gus, a garbage collector who’s extremely upset when he learns that his date is much taller than him. This guy does nothing on screen but act like an asshole. I’m sorry, but this is the most perfect adjective to describe this guy. He’s usually throwing tantrums at anybody around him and, at one point, he pushes a man out of telephone booth. But when he learns that he doesn’t have enough money to use it, he grabs the phone and tries to shake it so a coin can fall out! This is neither funny nor adding any  sympathy to the character. Another example is Donna Summer’s character. Sure, she’s a really great singer in real life and I love songs such as Bad Girls or Love to Love You Baby or I Feel Love, but in this film her character is a clumsy girl who wants to be a singer in the nightclub. All she does is beg a DJ so she can sing later, but uh-oh she always clumsily breaking things in DJ booth which means that her chance is less and less. Later on, she enters DJ booth again and, get this, tries to sing a song that DJ played on a LIVE MICROPHONE! Not only does this make our DJ angrier due to her bad manners, it makes me pissed off since her character still sings badly in that scene. Do you think anybody wants to give a chance to somebody who behaves badly?

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90 minutes commercial of local disco near you and our soundtrack album

What do we learn from this film? Before I give an answer, don’t get me wrong. Sometimes the film doesn’t need to have a moral lesson if the film is entertaining enough, but since it’s not that entertaining I expect to find some lesson here. Well, this film is like a commercial for local discotheque around that time. We learn that this is a place for everyone. Whether you’re young, middle-age, working class, or middle class, you can always have fun and be yourself here. It might be an appropriate lesson for the time since there were lots of discotheques around the country, but now it looks dated. Plus, almost every scene in this film is filled with music. So, just like SNF, you can buy the 2-LP soundtrack album if you love the songs used in the film. Unfortunately, lots of amazing songs in the film aren’t included on the soundtrack album and the album is filled with mediocre/unmemorable songs instead. Beside the movie’s main theme, Donna Summer’s Last Dance, and The Commodores’ Too Hot To Trot, the rest of album isn’t that memorable.

So what do I like about it?

– 70’s Chicks

Just look at these photos…

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(Nanci L. Hammond as Marv’s Dancing Partner)

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(Marya Small as Jackie)

As you can see, these girls look really gorgeous. I wish I had a girlfriend who looks like one of these.

– Soundtrack

As I said, some of great songs in this film aren’t on the soundtrack. These songs are really interesting and catchy. Also, one of them is a Disco version of Romeo and Juliet! Yep, at the time we have Disco rendition of everything…from The Star Wars Theme to A Hunchback of Notre Dame!

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Overall, I still don’t really like this film. I see an effort in this film and the message it tries to push, but bad characterization is probably the main factor why I hate TGIF.

Thumbs Down.

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Tomorrow, we’ll take a look at an infamous Disco movie starring Linda Blair.

About The Author
Nuttawut Permphithak
Nuttawut Permphithak
A student who's studying in marketing. He usually spends his free-time on watching movies, listening to music, reading books, and creating things you're probably reading/listening right now.

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