The documentary takes a look at the history of the disco craze, tracing its heritage back as far as World War II but focusing primarily on the space between Donna Summer’s “Love to Love You Baby” and the night radio DJ Steve Dahl blew up thousands of disco records at Chicago’s Comiskey Park, an event rock ‘n’ roll fans consider a triumph against the cheesy fad that had dominated their airwaves for almost a decade.
If you’re hip to this sort of thing, “The Secret Disco Revolution” doesn’t bring much new information to the table. The movie offers glimpses into what initially got the disco ball rolling (calling disco “the liberation of gays, blacks and women from the clutches of a conservative, rock-dominated world”) and contains interviews with the likes of Gloria Gaynor, Thelma Houston and the Village People (natch), the latter of whom tell an amusing anecdote about how “YMCA” started out as a throwaway tune before blowing up into the pro-gay anthem we know it as today.
“The Secret Disco Revolution” is well-made, but it’s far from insightful. It has an awkward framing device that seems to suggest the disco craze was initially implemented by three groovy, glitter-strewn dance gods that actually works against its true-life implications that people took to disco as a way to revolt against a repressive society. The interviewees are fine but don’t offer much you haven’t heard before. And the movie runs out of groove long before it even makes mention of New York’s Studio 54.
It’s not an awful film, it’s just nothing new. Watching it, you get the sensation that “Disco” might have enough valuable information to justify a one-hour special on VH-1 Classic, but not enough to justify a full-fledged 90-minute trip to the theater.
★★ out of ★★★★
Not rated, but contains drug use, brief nudity and strong language. 84 minutes, 2013.
Director: Jamie Kastner.
Read all of Jesse Hoheisel’s reviews at AFistfulofPopcorn.com.