From the Director of MY BRILLIANT CAREER - A Totally New Kind of Musical! — Three years after she rocked the movie industry with MY BRILLIANT CAREER, director Gillian Armstrong again brought the world to its feet with this ... more »unexpected musical comedy smash. Jo Kennedy stars as quirky young singer Jackie Mullens, who along with her 14-year-old manager/songwriter/ cousin Angus (Ross O?Donovan) will go to any outrageous lengths to chase their dreams of pop stardom. Oscar® winner Geoffrey Rush (SHINE, PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN) makes one of his very first screen appearances in this acclaimed combination of delightful old-school story and explosive new wave musical that was nominated for three Australian Academy Awards ? including Best Original Music Score ? and features songs by Tim Finn and Phil Judd of legendary pop-rock band Split Enz.« less
"This movie is like all those old movies where the performing kids save the day (you remember...."we've got the barn...gran can make the costumes...we'll put on a show!!"). I LOVE this movie! I scrounged around until I found a copy of it back in the 80's (which wasn't easy to do). The movie is humorous, but the music is great! I especially love "I Want to Live in House" done by Angus and the Wombats, not to mention the song from crashing the Sydney Opera House "Monkey in Me". If you like irreverent humor and 80s semi-punk music as well, this movie is for you. The soundtrack for this movie (although hard to find) is also well worth the price if you can find it as well.
Update 12/31/05: I am thrilled this movie has been re-released with a two disc special edition. It is still a favorite even after all these years. Now, I can stop wearing out the VHS tape I have. However, like other reviewers, I want to know...where is the CD soundtrack?! My album is just about worn out. Bring on the CD!!
09/30/06: STILL waiting for the soundtrack to be released on CD. Who do we have to petition/cajole/threaten to get the soundtrack released on CD? :-)
04/26/08: Seriously... is there any chance that I will be able to purchase this soundtrack on CD or as an MP3 before I'm eligible for Social Security? (still waiting......) :-)
07/08/09 tap-tap....is this thing on? ...haven't gone away. There simply MUST be a soundtrack released."
"Without hesitation I give Starstruck my vote as one the the all-time great movie musicals, right up there with the best of Warner Bros of the 30s, Fox of the 40s and MGM of the 50s. Possibly, it's the only movie to perfectly integrate (original & terrific) rock music with a funny, compassionate & inventive plot. The dance numbers, particularly the campy all-male sharks-in-the-pool scene & the one with all the regulars in the tavern joining in a stunning spine-tingling production number are absolutely outstanding. The "Monkey-in-Me (That Made Me Wanna Do It)" show-stopper is literally that. Jo Kennedy is marvelous, Ross O'Donovan & all the rest are first-rate. They will never make another movie like this. What a gem! I hope it comes out on DVD & the word spreads. A great big gift of joy!"
Very good re-issue version - this is the one to get
Steve Frazier | Seattle | 09/07/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This movie was finally re-released (summer of 2005) on a new two-disc DVD collection with the "extras" it deserves -- interviews with the producer, director, screenwriter; an audio commentary track; and deleted and extended scenes. More importantly, the sound and picture quality on this DVD release are light years ahead of the previous releases that were in the US (both of which I've previously purchased but gave up watching half-way through because the quality was so horrible). In short, the picture looks great, and the sound does the music justice. If you're a fan of Australian cinema in general...or movie musicals...or just want to see an Australian take on movie musicals in (roughly) the same era that the US was putting out "Grease" -- this is definitely worth seeing.
Also, if you're a fan of the movie or of director Gillian Armstrong, you'll enjoy the interviews. Gillian Armstrong talks somewhat wistfully about how she rejected two other "unknown" bands to do the soundtrack (INXS and Men at Work), both of whom went on to be huge hits in America about 6 months after the movie opened to modest business in the US. As she notes in her interview, this movie probably never really caught on with the teen audience in the US because "they don't go to foreign movies" and "at the time they couldn't imagine that there was any new wave music in Australia."
The audio commentary from the producer is an interesting insight on the movie-making business; he spends a lot of his time explaining what it took to get a movie made in Australia at the time (e.g., fund-raising from investors was driven by a mix of government funding and favorable tax laws for investors), and how it affected the creative process. Very different from most of the audio commentary tracks on the other movies.
"Starstruck is one of the great forgotten flicks of the 80s.
Its name should be uttered with quiet reverence in the same breath as Valley Girl, Sixteen Candles, and the Breakfast Club, but - sadly - namedrop the film in North America, and you're likely to get a resounding "Huh?," even among 80s aficionados.
I've probably watched my old, decrepit VHS of this movie about 100 times over the last 20 years, and the thing that's always brought me back for more is how the sincerity and quirkiness of the family scenes plays against the spirited and energetic new wave musical numbers - sure, they're amateurish by today's standards, but the complete conviction and enthusiasm with which they're executed is a giddy (not guilty!) pleasure.
The song highlights here are many, but my personal favorites are "Body and Soul," the Split Enz song from the band's best CD, Frenzy, and the irrepressible "I Want to Live in a House," which lays bare the link between punk rebellion and nerdy frustration; Ross O'Donovan and his merry band of misfits "oi, oi, oi" their way through a sarcastic and convincing rave up with more nervous energy than an early Elvis Costello video; if you don't have goosebumps by the key change, or you don't immediatlely watch it again, congratulations: you're clinically dead.
The DVD is a huge improvement on the VHS edition. It's great to finally see the film in all its widescreen glory with much-improved sound and picture quality. I was a bit worried that part of the film's charm lay in the nostalgia of watching it on washed-out videotape, but that's definitely not the case. The greatest sin of the VHS edition, as it turns out, was that it obsured the fantastic production design. I must've paused the DVD 15 or 20 times last night to take a closer look at the background. Bravo!
The extras are interesting, but -- where are the interviews with Jo Kennedy and Ross O'Donovan? It's impossible to watch this film without wanting to find out more about both of them. As Gillian Armstrong notes in the extras, O'Donovan was 17 when he made the film (playing a 14 year old), which would make him 41 today. How does he feel about the film and his performance today? An expanded edition, please.
The discussion with screenwriter Stephen MacLean is interesting, in that he doesn't seem to like the film very much; ahh, the classic grouchy screenwriter who wanted to direct his own work! He cultivates the image, as he's interviewed on the beach getting a leg massage.
Interestingly, MacLean says that he thinks O'Donovan's performance is weak(!), and he wishes he could've chosen the songs himself. He also recalls a time he saw the film in a theatre and found himself sitting next to a six-year-old girl, who attempts to explain what's going on to her two-year-old sister. Good stuff.
All the interviewees say the film did better in the U.S. than Australia, which is hard to believe. However, I do recall Siskel and Ebert giving Starstruck two thumbs up, so that might've done the trick (hey, it worked for My Dinner with Andre).
The deleted scenes aren't so great; they're mostly extended scenes, and by "extended" I'm using the term liberally -- they're about five seconds longer than the originals.
I join the (building?) chorus of fans demanding a CD of the music; and, while we're at it, why don't we also demand the DVD release of Modern Girls, the other great forgotten 80s flick (notable for featuring Depeche Mode's should-have-been-a-hit But Not Tonight)?"
Phenomenal feel good movie. Where is the Soundtrack???
Shane Lyons | Canada | 03/04/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is a great movie for those days when you need a pick me up. The acting is over the top but in this case and movie it works as they come off as larger then life. The scenes in the movie and the set design are surreal and over the top, so the actors made their characters larger then life and surreal and this is a very good thing as it allows the whole film to blend. The world this movie takes place in and the type of people it has living in it do not actually exist, but those of us that love this movie sure wish they did. The music choice could not have been better for this film.
If you listen to the commentary during the movie you will hear the director lammenting about how INXS was one of the bands possible for the movie and they instead went with the Swingers, with the future leads of Crowded House and Phil Judd. Thank god they went with the Swingers, their music style matches the entire rest of the movie to a tee. Had INXS been the band they used the whole movies feel would have suffered. The music in this is one of the major keys to its success and I find it funny that the director has missed this point. She should be thankful they went with the Swingers, otherwise this movie would be long forgotten. Phil Judd is a extremely quirky guy, and his screen persona matched this surreal movie very well along with his phenomenal mix of pop classics. The songs on this movie such as Monkey in Me, Body and Soul, Starstruck, One Good Reason (which can be found on "Counting the Beat" a Swingers CD that was recently available on Amazon), I want to live in a Box.
This movie came together as good as possible, despite the director. Thank god we cannot go back, and it seems that hindsite may not always be 20/20.
Now what do we need? THE SOUNDTRACK! Seriously, there is not a bad track on this whole movie, some of the best songs ever made, I would say the best the Swingers ever produced are actually on this movie instead of on their CD's. I really really hope the soundtrack is finally put onto CD. I got my $20 ready. This is the only movie I have ever attempted to record via a microphone and my TV's speakers, it did not work so well. This movie really needs a soundtrack release on CD."