Liz Tells Frank What Happened In “The Apple”
Posted by Liz Shannon Miller
I was talking with my dad on the phone last night, and here is an excerpt from the conversation we had:
Dad: What are you up to tonight?
Me: Watching The Apple, I guess. Have you heard of it?
Dad: Maybe? Let’s see… [sound of typing, then laughing] Oh, yes. I remember it.
Me: Should I start drinking now?
Dad: I’m looking at IMDB and one actress plays the following roles — “Vampire / Star Rock / Mr. Boogalow’s Receptionist / Keyboard Player in ‘BIM’ Band / One of Ashley’s ‘Lap-mates’ at Mr. Boogalow’s Penthouse Party.”
Me: Oh good.
So The Apple! I have no idea why it’s called that. The movie opens with screaming teens rushing to see a music competition called Worldvision (NO RESEMBLANCE WHATSOEVER TO EUROVISION), and boy you can see why they’re so excited to be there!
Is what I’m looking at glam rock or disco? It is certainly sparkly. And there’s a lot of chanting. And guitars. And dancing. It is everything and nothing — but most importantly, it’s eating about five minutes of screen time.
This opening song is, I’m guessing, called “Hey Hey Hey,” because that is the bulk of what they’re chanting, and while there are a million people on the stage, the band BIM appears to be primarily fronted by a gentleman in huge fake eyelashes and a nice Grace Jones-ish lady. I’m guessing we’ll be seeing a lot of them later.
And now we get a peek backstage and oh my god, Frank, the JACKETS these dude are WEARING. The guy in the fanciest jacket and one dangly earring says he’s going to make the band into the biggest band of the decade. Which decade, it’s not clear, but they’re measuring heartbeats in the control room, which is somehow very important for measuring the success of a band because wait hold on HOLY SHIT WAIT THIS MOVIE TAKES PLACE IN THE YEAR 1994? WOW. Well, this explains the jackets anyway.
Fanciest Jacket gives interviews in French and German, which are unsubtitled so I don’t have to tell you what they’re saying, but the gist is that the first band we saw, BIM, might have been set up to win the big prize (their big hit is the official theme song of the US fitness program? Sure). Meanwhile, a folk group that played after them nearly ruined everything by winning over the kids with their folkiness and super-Canadian accents.
At a fancy party to celebrate BIM’s victory, everyone starts putting sparkly triangle stickers on their foreheads. The folkies decide to crash the party in the hope of getting a recording contract — and oh, wow, the folk girl is the girl from The Last Starfighter! That is a good movie. I wish I were watching that right now.
The main BIM guy with the eyelashes lures Starfighter Girl out to the balcony for drug-taking and makeout times. And then everyone else at the party does a big choreographed dance number while Eyelashes Guy and Starfighter Girl duet about doing it. Less than two minutes elapse between one event and the other, for the record. One thing I’m liking about The Apple — shit moves FAST.
Folkie Boy (who looks a lot like Hasselhoff) doesn’t like his lady making out with the Eyelashes Guy. He also doesn’t trust Fanciest Jacket, who he thinks will probably rip them off, but Starfighter Girl demands that they meet with him about representation anyway, because Fanciest Jacket is the biggest music agent in the world or something.
In the lobby of Fanciest Jacket’s office, Folkie Boy says hi to someone sitting next to him. “Who are you?” “I’m the manager of Ballet 2000.” “Who?” TIME FOR ANOTHER DANCE SEQUENCE.
Not pictured — all of the gentlemen in this movie dancing sexy with feather boas. Just trust me, Frank, it happens.
Immediately after this dance number, Starfighter Girl and Folkie Boy finally meet with Fanciest Jacket (who is wearing a different, but still incredibly fancy, jacket). They get separate contracts to sign (instead of signing as a duo oh boy BETRAYAL AHEAD so sad for them) and promises of a MAKE-OVER! Hooray. Folkie Boy wants to wait a day — but Starfighter Girl says fuck it and signs! Especially because the record label already has an album and a tour planned–
What might have been a very typical “duo slowly disintegrates because of fame” storyline is aborted when Folkie Boy freaks the fuck out and has a vision of earthquakes and storms — which is then followed by a hallucination of Hell where Fanciest Jacket wears the fanciest devil horns and tempts Starfighter Girl with an apple… AN APPLE! OHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH. I GET IT NOW.
TIME FOR ANOTHER MUSICAL NUMBER! “Let me be your guide through the apple paradise,” Eyelashes Guy (wearing sparkly panties) sings– Look, Frank, all I can do is tell you what is happening. I can’t stop it. (At least the dancing is pretty good.)
Oh, but now we’re back to Fanciest Jacket’s office, and Folkie Boy storms out, leaving Starfighter Girl behind…
It’s been like, what, a minute since our last musical number? Perfect! We’re clearly overdue for a new one, this time about how Fanciest Jacket “knows how to be a master” to his “slaves.” This is sung while Starfighter Girl gets made over into a star, and as much as I enjoy a training montage, it’s a little weird to see at least two black characters sing those lyrics.
After a brief moment of non-singing, we see Starfighter Girl performing her first solo act — which is just like BAM’s other performances, but with more leather and references to America. OUR GIRL HAS GROWN UP, Y’ALL.
Oh, and now there’s a scene where Folkie Boy’s… Mom, I think? Or landlady? Anyway, she gets a ticket because she’s not wearing the shiny triangle sticker from the beginning, because it’s now required by law. So now this movie is a Bible metaphor AND Fascism! Rad.
Folkie Boy plays her an acoustic song he’s hoping to sell to make rent, asking where love has gone, but because it’s not disco rock no one’s interested in buying it. Time for him to sit and feel sad! And then get a ticket for not wearing a triangle sticker. He is having a bad day.
Frank, it’s been like two minutes since a song or dance number, and I know you’ve been wondering why, but DON’T WORRY, it’s time for BIM Hour — a nationally mandated dance hour requiring ALL OF AMERICA to stop what they’re doing and dance. This includes cops and firefighters and old people and fatties. FOR THE GOOD OF AMERICA.
Folkie Boy’s wandering around feeling sad when he sees Starfighter Girl. But now she is super-famous and surrounded by autograph fiends — which miffs Eyelashes Guy, who I guess is used to being #1 most super-famous in the world? Don’t worry, Frank, that doesn’t go anywhere. What really matters is that Folkie Boy gets beaten up by some BIM goons for trying to talk to her, and now Starfighter Girl is singing about how she misses Folkie Boy and is maybe realizing that BIM is evil and she wishes she were dead. SAD TIMES FOR EVERYONE. You’d better fucking believe that it’s raining, just as she sings “let the heavens rain down with your tears.” Well-played, movie.
OH WOW THIS NUMBER WON’T END. What the fuck, The Apple? It’s been like ten minutes since the last high-kick! I have come to expect things from you!
After a firm talking-to by his landlady (I guess?), Folkie Boy decides to find Starfighter Girl after all, crashing a big exciting BIM party to do so. However, when Folkie Boy confronts Fanciest Jacket, asking him to let Starfighter Girl out of his contract, he’s also just had some sips of Faux Grace Jones’s “special drink” and it’s time for another crazy hallucination/dance number! It’s mostly Faux Grace singing “come do anything to me” to Folkie Boy, and, okay, I respect this movie’s forthright portrayal of female sexuality, but here are some lyrics from this song: “I’m coming, coming, coming for you…”
Folkie Boy catches Starfighter Girl in bed with Eyelashes Guy, then runs out and totally passes out and wakes up in… the park? Here, he finds a colony of hippie refugees from the 60s. Good times.
Meanwhile, Starfighter Girl seems regretful about the night before, which inspires Faux Grace Jones to tell her that Folkie Boy had been there last night and still loves her and she should go back to him? I have NO IDEA WHY. Faux Grace Jones is pretty fabulous, but makes no sense as a character. If only there were an opportunity for her to sing a ballad about how she’s a changed woman– OH GOOD HERE WE GO! This is like musical number 38 or so, if you haven’t been keeping track.
Starfighter Girl hops a monorail (because this is the future, you know) in search of her true love, and the landlady (I guess she really is the landlady) tips her off about the hippies in the park. There, Starfighter Girl is bewildered by what appears to be a happy community of sitar playing dorks — oh, but don’t worry, they may eschew modern conveniences but they’re always down for a musical number!
Folkie Boy peels the sticker off Starfighter Girl’s forehead, and they hug, and there’s a swirly camera and everyone’s happy and singing about love together! That is, of course, until a horde of cops come to bust up the party like a bunch of jerks!
Oh, WHOA. Like over a year goes by in between the last two sentences of that paragraph — which you can tell because Folkie Boy suddenly has a huge beard and he and Starfighter Girl have popped out a kid! The cops have come officially to arrest Starfighter Girl for owing the record company like $10 million. But then everyone gets arrested–
Except WAIT. Folkie Boy says “Don’t worry, Mr. Tubbs is coming,” and Starfighter Girl says “Who?” and that’s when a motherfucking FLYING CAR shows up and a guy in an awesome white suit gets out.
He’s like Jesus, I guess? He certainly makes the arrest warrant disappear and paralyzes a cop who tries to stop them and then everyone follows the magic flying car and walks into the sky? FRANK, LIKE I SAID, I AM A SLAVE TO THE FACTS. I can’t be held responsible for this movie’s actions.
Last thing that happens in this movie? Fanciest Jacket asks Mr. Tubbs where they’re going — “another planet?” Mr. Tubbs says yes, one without Fanciest Jacket around, and Fanciest Jacket is all “but the world can’t exist without me!” and Mr. Tubbs says that they’re going to give it a shot. I don’t know if you get it, Frank, but Fanciest Jacket might just be a metaphor for THE DEVIL. Just wanted to be sure you were clear on that point.
AND NOW THE END. Credits! Fun facts: George Clinton wrote some of the lyrics! And Nigel Lythgoe of So You Think You Can Dance did the choreography! And David Gurfinkel did the cinematography — I don’t know him from anything else, I just like the last name Gurfinkel.
A final fun fact — this wasn’t the worst film I’ve seen in service to you, Frank. I mean, it was fucking weird as hell, but not only am I often pretty forgiving to movies with lots of dance sequences (ahem, Center Stage), but I’m discovering a tendency to be even more forgiving to movies that are short. And The Apple is like 85 minutes long.
Granted, that’s because the plot is so thin that it could have been made as a 10 minute student film, but the important point here is that the movie knew its limits — or mine, at least. So I am pro-Apple! Even that ending couldn’t keep it from dancing, just a little, into my heart.
Tell someone else:
About Liz Shannon MillerLiz Shannon Miller is a Los Angeles-based writer and editor, and has been talking about television on the Internet since the very beginnings of the Internet. She is currently Senior TV Editor at Collider, and her work has also been published by the New York Times, Vulture, Variety, the AV Club, the Hollywood Reporter, IGN, The Verge, and Thought Catalog. She is also a produced playwright, a host of podcasts, and a repository of "X-Files" trivia.
Posted on August 23, 2011, in All the Spoilers, Movies and tagged george clinton, I do love a dance sequence, metaphor, nigel lythgoe, the apple. Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.
Oh man, am I glad you finally got around to this gem. This movie is super disheartening as well as being super awesome, because it shows me that all my ideas for when I’m president (mandatory dance time, glitter man-panties, BIM hour, forced bisexuality) would basically create hell. Fancy, fabulous, hell, free of hippies! Hey, maybe it’s not such a bad idea…
It could go either way. But no matter what, I’ll vote for you. 🙂
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