Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Staying Alive (1983)

If you looked at the notes I took on this film, you'd probably see a lot of curse words, and "ethics" in huge capital letters underlined. In short, I wanted to punch things.

Apparently, Staying Alive takes place 6 years after Saturday Night Fever. Tony Manero (John Travolta) is a young dancer looking to make his big break on Broadway. He continues to get rejected in show biz, and makes his living teaching dance and waiting at a club. There, lots of edgy women with poofy hair and red lipstick come on to him, but he rejects them all, like the noble hero we'd like him to be. Tony's a good guy. He likes his women with substance because he's a genuine Italian guy. Or so we think.

We see him with Jackie, (Cynthia Rhodes , 80's dance flick queen) and they seem like a pretty cute couple, right? That is until he falls in love/lust with the English soloist, Laura (Finola Hughes) while attending Jackie's show. He then proceeds to follow her to her dressing room and woo her with his suave Italian ways. This is when things started going downhill for me. Then again, I'm very biased against polygamy...or players! I frikken hate players man! Call me whatever, but I'm repulsed by cheating men in general. The concept of TV shows like the Bachelor/Bachelorette makes me throw up a little.

Who will win?

So then we have this back and forth thing where he blows off poor, faithful Jackie to hang out with Laura the rich British dancer. One night, while standing up Jackie, he sees Laura with a wealthy looking guy and get's super offended. She asks him what did he expect, that their perfect date and one night stand meant they were in love? Apparently, he thought so. So he goes back to Jackie, which is routine whenever Laura sends him with his tail between his legs. But then, here's what really gets me...he get's ticked at Jackie for the way the guitarist in her band looks at her. Of course, you'd think he'd figure out where his true feelings lie, but he continues to come when Laura calls. Eventually, Jackie walks away from him too. Yeah! She sure showed him! Oh, never mind, she fell for his puppy dog face yet again and is now helping him learn the male soloist's part. Can we get a strong female character in here please?

Whatever. All goes well, Tony gets the soloist part and dances with a seething Laura. We dance montage our way up to opening night of "Satan's Alley", where who else plays the devil in a red skin tight unitard, but Laura. There are lots of gyrating demons. Everyone is shiny and drenched in glitter and oil. Typical Sylvester Stallone, I'd say. Tony gets to dance the part of the soul sent to hell. Great metaphor, huh? At the end of a very provocative number, Tony kisses Laura. WHAT? And all Jackie has to say is "Why'd you have to go and kiss her?", which he responds to by kissing Jackie. Are you confused? Exactly.

I guess what really gets me is that the movie revolves around Tony, and he doesn't ever really redeem himself. No one likes to see the hero as the least pick a girl at the end! Even his impromptu solo where he flings Laura off stage and ascends into heaven didn't do it for me.
I recommend this for anyone that enjoys a good dance flick. It did have some pretty cool sequences, and the neon skin tight leotards were quite enjoyable. I'm a pretty big fan of dance in the 80's, especially the whole aerobic movement they had going on for them. Dancers back then seemed much more sweatier, grittier, and muscular than they do today. The movie definitely portrayed the show biz industry in the 80's (everyone and their mom wanted to be a dancer on Broadway). Today, dance on Broadway is much more toned down due to the rise of contemporary shows that call for less spectacle.

Ladies, if you're like me, any depth or sentimental value in the movie is overwhelmed by Tony's disgustingness. But if you can look past that, then more power to ya. Maybe you have to be a Saturday Night Fever fan to appreciate Tony's character. I do give the movie credit that it could stand alone without there ever being a prequel. But did Stallone really expect me to be rooting for Tony in the with his final lines?

Tony: Do you know what I wanna do?
Jackie: What?
Tony: Strut.

And so, Tony busts out of the theatre and proceeds to strut through Times Square as the credits roll. Personally, I prefer his bad ass self in Pulp Fiction. If you're looking for substance, you're not gonna find it in Staying Alive.

1 comment:

Vladigogo said...

Precisely. This is the fun you should be having with these posts.