Number one, I nearly captioned the picture above “John Travolta, Jamie Lee Curtis, and Little Xenu.” And then I laughed and laughed. But, in the end, I resisted temptation because I’m an adult now.
Number two, Perfect came out in June in 1985, a few months before I was born. As a result, I have no idea what the 1985 reviews looked like. However, it still seems to me that you’re taking a big risk when you give a movie a title like Perfect, especially when the movie itself is far from perfect. How many reviews opened with, “Perfect fails to live up to its name…”
And finally, as a result of seeing both this film and Staying Alive, I have to say, “What the Hell, John Travolta?” Seriously, what the Hell was going on? John Travolta gave a great performance in the 1970s, with Saturday Night Fever. And then in the 1990s, he was good in Pulp Fiction, Get Shorty, Face/Off, Primary Colors, and a few others. (For our purposes here, we shall pretend that Battlefield Earth never happened.) Even though most of Travolta’s recent films have been forgettable, his performances have generally been adequate.
So, seriously, John — what was going on in the 80s? Because judging from both Perfect and Staying Alive, John Travolta apparently totally forgot how to act during that decade. When I reviewed Staying Alive, I said that Travolta’s performance managed to create a whole new definition of bad. But he’s actually even worse in Perfect. It helped, of course, that in Staying Alive, Travolta’s character was supposed to be stupid. In Perfect, on the other hand, he’s actually supposed to be a brilliant reporter.
Or, at the very least, he’s supposed to be brilliant by the standards of Rolling Stone. Travolta plays Adam Lawrence, an award-winning reporter for Rolling Stone. The magazine, by the way, plays itself and so does its publisher, Jann Wenner (though his character is technically named Mark Roth). What’s interesting is that the film itself doesn’t necessarily paint a flattering picture of Rolling Stone or Jann Wenner, though admittedly a lot of that is due to the fact that Wenner himself gives a performance that is even worse than Travolta’s. It’s impossible to watch Perfect without thinking about the fact that Adam is writing for the same magazine that would eventually put Dzokhar Tsarnaev on the cover and publish the UVA rape story.
Anyway, if I seem to avoiding talking about the exact plot of Perfect, that’s because there’s not really much of a plot to describe. Adam, a hard-hitting investigative journalist, is doing research on a story about how people are hooking up at gyms. Wenner agrees. “We haven’t done L.A. in a while!” he says. Adams joins the a gym called the Sports Connection, which he is soon calling “The Sports Erection” because he’s a super clever reporter. He falls in love with an aerobics instructor, who is played by Jamie Lee Curtis. She doesn’t trust reporters but is eventually won over by Travolta’s … well, who knows? Mostly she’s won over because the plot needs some conflict. She gets on Adam’s computer and she types, “Want to fuck?” Adam says sure but then tries too hard to dig into the dark secret from her past. “You’re a sphincter muscle!” she shouts as him. Adam writes a compassionate and balanced article about the Sports Connection. Wenner edits the article and turn it into a sordid hit piece. (And again, you wonder why Wenner agreed to play himself.) Feelings are hurt, issues are resolved, and eventually everyone takes an aerobics class.
Honestly, the entire movie is mostly just a collection of scenes of Jamie Lee Curtis and John Travolta working out. And, in all fairness, Curtis does about as well as anyone could in this terrible film. Travolta, on the other had … well, just check out the scene below and maybe you’ll understand why I had a hard time concentrating on Travolta’s acting.
Perfect fails to live up to its name.