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JOHN TRAVOLTA STARS IN THE PERFECTLY IMPERFECT 'PERFECT'

Laraine Newman w/ John Travolta in the wings of PERFECT Year: 1986
Following his practical ownership of the 1970's, from playing the most laid-back and, despite his more hyped-up co-stars trying harder for laughs, funniest character, Vinnie Barbarino, on the TV-series WELCOME BACK KOTTER, to practically inventing Disco in SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER to having good times as a throwback hood in GREASE...

But when the 1980's rolled-in, John Travolta was thoroughly miscast in an otherwise semi-decent time-filler, URBAN COWBOY...

That film's ripped and supercool villain, Scott Glenn, or a Tom Berenger or Jan Michael-Vincent type would have fit much better than Travolta: And during that decade, if you don't count Brian De Palma's thriller BLOW OUT where John reunites with CARRIE girlfriend Nancy Allen, his obsession with getting into PERFECT physical shape didn't help much: from going through Sylvester Stallone's training camp in SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER's completely unanticipated sequel, STAYING ALIVE, where, in the memory of this reviewer, the laughter can still be heard reverberating throughout the theater when the extremely dated, embarrassing title appears at the end of the trailer...

The Poster for PERFECT
But for fans of bad campy films, both STAYING ALIVE and especially PERFECT are pretty great... Especially the latter where John Travolta plays a journalist for the ad-saturated, overrated rag, Rolling Stone Magazine, as founder/editor Jann Wenner's attempt at acting is almost as terrible as the breezy banter between Travolta's idealistic yet sneaky scribbler Adam, and an aerobics goddess with a serious reluctance for any kind of interview...

Enter Jamie Lee Curtis as Jessie, the main ingenue but not the most sympathetic or memorable female on board...

Which role goes to Original SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE cast member Laraine Newman, who, as Linda, with a full-chested, more attractive and upbeat best friend (dating a male stripper so obviously closeted he should be wearing coat hangers) in Marilu Henner's Sally, there's enough going on: including a "serious" b-story article/plot-line, about a computer entrepreneur facing government charges, that opens and closes the otherwise fluffy piece as Adam has more fun writing about The Sports Connection (aka Sports Erection) being the new Single's Bar. And the most fun's had in the gym where non-actors attempt to act while real actors tone down to give PERFECT a documentary vibe, sort of...

Peripheral Serious Story
Ironically, the worst scenes also take place within the sweaty interior – showing an entire aerobic workout where Curtis teaches Travolta the new way of keeping in shape and thus remaining, on the outside, PERFECT. But as a journalist, still grappling with honesty and friendship and an actual relationship, the person you'll end up feeling more sorry for isn't the one who gets the most used and ultimately heartbroken...

Newman w/ Marilu Henner PERFECT Rates: ***1/2
Which should be mentioned twice, and therefore cemented herein, because the female version of Dan Aykroyd's do-anything player from the original SNL deserved a much better career. And as long as we're talking about scene-stealing females: Anne De Salvo, best known as "the the most beautiful woman... at this table" in ARTHUR, plays Travolta's photographer, who, as a true New Yorker, has some tough, funny lines. Basically, anyone going against the story (or lack of) winds up ultimately looking the best. 

TRIVIA: This movie was basically the last nail to seal John Travolta's coffin as far as a movie career goes. As everyone knows, Quentin Tarantino made him viable again, giving him the lead role in the groundbreaking film PULP FICTION, leading to a Best Actor nomination and a decade-long A-List status. But John did have a part in another hit beforehand, and it centered on an infant voiced by the "palooka" who'd blow him away in PULP. And ROLLING STONE chief Jann Wenner does deserve some credit for making his magazine even more lightweight and banal that it actually is: fictionally going out of their way to screw over performers (seeming more like NATIONAL INQUIRER to fit the plotline), like Carly Simon, who, in a cameo, throws her drink in Travolta's face. And also included is Wenner himself choosing a somewhat iconic photograph of Mick Jagger for the cover: Jagger's band gave the magazine its name, after all (which was given to The Stones by Muddy Waters)...
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