Embracing the Melodrama Part II #74: Perfect (dir by James Bridges)

PerfectOkay,before reviewing the 1985 film Perfect, I have three things to say.

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.

A Few Thoughts Before Actually Seeing The Social Network

Hi there.  Lisa Marie here.  I know that usually when I show up on this site, it’s too either toss up 6 more exploitation trailers or to present a review of a film that’s been unfairly dismissed (or foolishly overpraised) by the mainstream media.  It’s what I love doing and I hope everyone gets at least a little occasional pleasure out of it.  (If you don’t — well, please don’t tell me.  I’m surprisingly sensitive.)

Last week, I expected that, at this time, I would have posted a review (probably negative) of the mainstream’s latest attempt to make an art film — David Fincher’s The Social Network.

Unfortunately, life in general — and my body in specific — had other plans.  I’ve been sick since Wednesday and, for the first time in over a year, I did not spend my weekend at the movies.  It’s enough to make a girl cry.

(That said, I did spend most of the weekend lounging about in various states of undress so maybe concentrating on that image will help to lessen the sting of no Social Network review…)

However, while I may not be able to give you my Social Network review, I do feel that I can give you my Social Network pre-viewing review.

Just based on the evidence presented to me so far, the Social Network sucks.

Consider the evidence:

1) Peter Travers of Rolling Stone says that the Social Network will make me “believe in film again.”  Excuse me?  Francios Truffaut coming back from the dead — or at least Jean-Luc Godard making one more vaguely entertaining movie before dying– will make me believe in film again.  I refuse to join a religion based on a movie about fucking Facebook.  Sorry, Mr. Travers.

2) Andrew O’Heir at Salon.com has compared The Social Network to — wait for it — Citizen Kane.  Hopefully, when the zombie apocalypse comes, Zombie Orson Welles will eat Andrew O’Heir first.

3) According to Rotten Tomatoes — the web’s greatest resource of Mainstream Opinion — The Social Network is the best-reviewed film of 2010 so far.  For a film to be that loved, it must be really needy.  And what do needy things do?  They manipulate, they lie, and they go out of their way to beg you to like them.  A great film doesn’t give a fuck what you think.

4) The movie stars Jesse Eisenberg who has already been in 3 great movies — The Squid and the Whale, Adventureland, and Zombieland.  Sorry, Jesse but only Giovanni Lombardo Radice is allowed to appear in four great films in just four years.

5) The movie is written by Aaron Sorkin.  This movie is being advertised as the “defining” movie as my generation.  Sorry, but the defining movie of my generation isn’t going to be written by some smug, 50 year-old, male, sexist, crackhead.

6) The movie is directed by David Fincher which normally would be a good sign except all the reviews are concentrating on Aaron Sorkin.  So, is our Mr. Fincher so needy for an Oscar that he’s basically abandoned his own vision in the service of some smug, 50 year-old, male, sexist, crackhead?

7) Apparently, this movie celebrates rich kids getting richer.  Just what America needs right now.  Yes, let’s celebrate the dumbfug toadsuckers of the world while the guy flipping your burger over at McDonald’s loses his health insurance.

8 ) The Social Network is apparently number one at the box office after this weekend and apparently has gotten great word of mouth.  You know who else got great word of mouth at one time?  Adolf Hitler, that’s who.  Up until it was no longer socially acceptable, the mainstream loved him too.

9) The Social Network has a really crappy, first draft title.  Seriously, that’s the name of the movie? 

10) Sasha Stone, over at Awardsdaily.com, loves this fucking movie and to me, that’s reason enough to assume it’s going to be an overrated piece of foolishness.  Seriously, Awardsdaily.com is a great site if you want to keep up with all the Oscar buzz but — when it comes to reviews — Sasha Stone, Ryan Adams, and the rest of the site are all so middle class and predictable.  (Of course, what do you expect from a site that regularly quotes William Goldman?)

So, that’s my pre-viewing review of The Social Network.  Hopefully, I’ll see it next weekend and be able to post an actual review.  Then we’ll be able to see if the film simply conformed to my own biases or if it truly is worthy of all the hype.

Until then, I’d love to hear your thoughts on The Social Network and the growing chorus of mainstreamers who insist that this is the greatest film of all time.  Am I being too hard on it or is this yet another example of the mainstream emperor wearing no clothes?