The Apple (1980)
The most interesting thing about the failed musical called The Apple is the legendary story surrounding its initial preview. It’s said that audience members who arrived to the screening were given free copies of the film’s soundtrack on LP, but during the film, the audience reaction was so awful they began flinging the LPs at the screen causing extensive damage. The Apple isn’t quite that bad, but no, it ain’t good.
A lot of money was squandered in this production on futuristic sets and costumes, so you’d think some time and effort would’ve been put into writing some engaging songs, but alas, you’d be wrong. Every song (save for one very short tune near the film’s end) within The Apple is just so much forgettable white noise, barely registering in the conscious mind even as it’s playing.
The silly plot involves a futuristic game show for aspiring musicians where the audience votes on who will be the new superstars (American Idol, anyone?). Despite the modern musical tastes (as predicted for 1994, the year the film is set in) of the viewers, an annoyingly chipper, hippy-dippy folk duo (Catherine Mary Stewart and George Gilmour) becomes the next big thing. As expected, they are tempted by money, drugs and fame by the various unscrupulous insiders and businessmen and must be true to themselves and their music. All of which culminates in the kids being taken in by a bunch of free-love revolutionaries and becoming sort of new musical messiahs or something. Needless to say, this story is the very definition of underwhelming, trying, but failing, to become the new Tommy for the 1980’s Generation X-ers.
The acting and singing is strictly amateur hour, with the exception of Catherine Mary Stewart who is somewhat appealing and is the only one who survived this production intact. It’s also strange how a movie can look both very expensive and incredibly cheap at the exact same time, as if throwing so much glitter all over every scene would hypnotize the audience into not recognizing what kind of turkey was unfolding on the screen right before their eyes.
If you want to know why the movie musical died out for so long, you only need to look at the year 1980, which saw not only the release of The Apple but also both Can’t Stop the Music and Xanadu (and helped along by Shock Treatment and Grease 2 soon after). It’s no small wonder why the studios declined to finance many more expensive musicals until the mini-revival in the new millennium.