Directed by: Mark Christopher
Written by: Mark Christopher
Starring: Ryan Phillippe, Salma Hayek, Neve Campbell, Mike Myers, Sela Ward, Breckin Meyer
The illusion of exclusivity can turn even the simplest of locations into something not to be missed. If people cannot get in, it then drives them to try even harder because as people, we have this need to feel included. The term FOMO (fear of missing out) has even been coined to explain this phenomenon. A method that has proven to deliver results and lead to the rise of Studio 54.
Shane O’Shea (Ryan Phillippe) attempts to get into the storied Studio 54, a place where he hears people get access to the richest and most popular people in New York. After getting plucked from the crowd by the owner, Steve Rubell (Mike Myers), Shane soon learns what makes the club so sought after. From the access to celebrities to the illegal substances, being in Studio 54 creates a dream too good to be true.
The idea behind 54 presents an interesting facet of human thinking about the things people would do to feel exclusive. It feels like a timeless tale, but this film has no interest in exploring any of it and just wants to throw a big party with no real character work. It results in a story that feels completely hollow as it tries to engulf you with the sex appeal of everyone involved. While it might work for the first 25 minutes, it loses its shine quickly and it displays its glaring faults.
By far the biggest fault came from the lead performance by Ryan Phillippe. He serves as the entry point into this club and he came off so dull. I wish it focused more on the wide array of characters he interacts within the club, but the character of Shane is so bland. Now, I’ve heard that the director’s cut of the feature adds more to the story and to Shane’s progression that actually makes it more interesting, but the theatrical release leaves much to be desired.
The brightest spots of the film came from the supporting characters like Mike Myers as Steve Rubell. As the film states, “Steve controls the door” and he dictates who gets the pleasure of entering the club. This grants him an incredible amount of power, as no one can enter Studio 54 without his approval. Rubell brings Shane into this world and can easily pull him out of it whenever he pleases. Anita (Salma Hayek) and Greg (Breckin Meyer) both guide Shane through this new lifestyle and become the family Shane always wanted after he leaves his New Jersey life behind. While each of these actors put on decent performances, they receive lackluster material and their characters feel flat by the end of the narrative.
54 disappoints because it has a premise and characters that could have been part of a better story. Following Shane through this narrative makes it lose all of the allure and mystique it tries to achieve. It must fall on the shoulders of writer/director Mark Christopher, as the direction felt static when bringing this club to life needed something more dynamic. Even with them putting together the ultimate 90s cast, they could not save 54 from nose-diving into a boring and ultimately horrendous film.