54 (1998) / Drama
MPAA rated : R for strong sexuality, drug use and language
Running time: 93 min.
Cast: Ryan Phillippe, Mike Myers, Salma Hayek, Neve Campbell, Sela Ward
Director: Mark Christopher
Screenplay: Mark Christopher
Review published November 28, 1998
Studio 54 was the hottest club in NYC during the late 70s disco era. 54 is a slice of life tale of a young and naive man's (Phillippe, I Know What You Did Last Summer) indoctrination into the decadent and drug-filled life as a bartender in the club where the stars would come from all over the world for one night in disco heaven -- the place to see and be seen by the entertainment elite.
54 is worth watching for a fascinating look at the rise and fall of the disco empire, which was crushed under its own wild decadence, proving that for every binge there will always be a hangover. Some poor performances, particularly by Neve Campbell (Wild Things, Scream 2), and some hackneyed storytelling hinders the story from ever being truly gripping, but the film does give some insights into why America had become so immersed in an escapist and hedonistic dance craze after the turmoil of Vietnam.
Perhaps the only gem to be found in this otherwise frivolous film comes from a admirably low-key and almost unrecognizable performance by Mike Myers (Austin Powers, Wayne's World 2) as Studio 54 owner Steve Rubell. People who think Myers couldn't hold his own in anything but a comedic role should look no further than this for ample proof.
54 is neither exciting nor boring, neither great nor horrible. It does at least know the difference between good disco from bad, as it showcases some of the only good disco cuts of the era. It might be only marginal entertainment, but still intrigues on a level beyond the formulaic story.
©1998 Vince Leo