Perfect (1985)

PLOT:

John Travolta had only been in three “good” movies before he began his long streak of infamous stinkers.  This 16 year professional skidmark started off thick and chunky with 1978’s Moment by Moment (see previous post) and was still going strong in 1985 when he co-starred with Jamie Lee Curtis in Perfect, a petty romantic drama told mostly through dynamic aerobic sequences.  It’s “…a world where love is a dance played to a pulsing beat and the attainment of physical beauty is everything.”  This is straight off the box, people.  At least we can take comfort in knowing that for every shitty aerobics movie made in the 80s there was an after school special about Anorexia made, too. See?  It all balances out.

In Perfect, Travolta stars as Adam Lawrence, a low-level newspaper employee who’s fed up with writing obituaries so he fast-forwards to five years later and suddenly he’s Rolling Stone magazine’s most ground-breaking reporter.  Most of the beginning of the film is dedicated to providing us with evidence that Adam is a highly motivated and professional investigative reporter, so when he ends up in a fitness club writing a story about the Aerobics Pied Piper (Jamie Lee Curtis), we’re expected to take it seriously.  Curtis plays fitness instructor Jessie Wilson, who spurns Lawrence’s attempts to get an interview because of some humiliating emotional trauma she suffered at the hands of another reporter in her past.  So, instead of becoming his professional subject, she becomes his lover and their sizzling hot romance heats up as the sparks fly and they feel the burn of their excessively warm firey flames of desire.

Though the article Adam eventually writes for Rolling Stone has nothing to do with her, it infuriates Jessie nonetheless because it portrays one of her friends from the health club as a raging slut (which she is).  To win her respect back, Adam writes a new article with a completely different focus but his editor runs third, ghost-written version of the story.  This third version exposes Jessie as the subject of an old sex scandal, which only infuriates her further.  Luckily, Adam’s embroiled in some courtroom drama caused by a previous plot thread and he’s given the opportunity to prove how incredibly ethical he is by spending time in jail rather than breaking a promise.  Will Jessie accept the truth and forgive him?  Well, DUH.

This film would be a total throw-away waste of time except that it contains several rather graphic aerobic scenes that are definitely worth watching just for the shock value of it all.  Apparantly 80s fitness routines generally involved many extended crotch-thrusting segments that, when done by Jamie Lee Curtis in spandex and John Travolta in short-shorts, makes even this otherwise outrageously boring movie mesmerizing in a fun, offensive sort of way.

AMBITION: 1

This film could largely be written off as an extremely long and complicated ad for Rolling Stone Magazine.

PRESENTABILITY: 3

Even with all the entertaining genital-oriented aerobic sequences, overall Perfect is a boring movie and probably wouldn’t work well in most group-watching scenarios.  The pay-off crotch-thrusting scenes are pretty special, though, so anyone who gives a crap about John Travolta one way or the other ought to see this movie.

SEX/VIOLENCE: 5

No sex scene exists in the film, but there is an incredibly lame build-up to a sexual encounter between the two leads involving AMAZING NEW TECHNOLOGY from the 80s and the clever use of work-out metaphors to describe the strenuous sex they’re about to have.

There’s no violence, and no nudity, and for a film with a wardrobe consisting of 90% spandex there is surprisingly little camel toe.  However, what it lacks there it makes up for in spades with multiple scenes featuring big squishy moose knuckle.  The main event, as it were, is a painfully long gyrating moose knuckle montage by Travolta, who’s man parts you can actually see flopping around under his little short-shorts as he repeatedly thrusts his crotch at the camera.  This goes on for a really inexcusable amount of time, as if they just left it uncut.  The scene, that is.

PERFORMANCE: 4

Curtis delivers about as decent of a performance as one would expect, and she clearly put some effort into being physically fit for the role.  In fact, I was downright impressed with her strength and enthusiasm during the exercise scenes, although the high proportion of weird pelvic motions gave it all a creepy, erotic tinge.   Travolta’s performance makes me think he might not have been taking the movie seriously, which was probably a strong choice given the point he was at in his career.   I gotta hand it to him, though, he was utterly shameless when it came to the pelvic exercises.

DATABILITY: 6

The fitness fad of the 80s is in full swing here, although the work-out gear was really toned down and disappointing.  I wanted hot pink leg warmers and teal zebra striped leotards and all I got was John Travolta’s wobbly moose knuckle in loose-fitting drab grey shorts.

The AMAZING NEW TECHNOLOGY showcased in the film (a portable word processor) wouldn’t really have counted for much except that Curtis uses it to proposition Travolta for sex.  Ew.

SCRIPT: 4

This movie isn’t exactly well-written but it’s not a total hack job either.  All the pieces fit together, it’s just not a very interesting or difficult puzzle, and even without the picture on the box you’d be able to tell what it’s a picture of before you’ve even got all the border pieces picked out.  There are so many obvious little set-ups for something else that happens later in the movie.  For example: He helps jump her dead car the first time they meet so that later before they become intimate he can use the line, “I just wanted to see if you needed someone to help jumpstart your battery.”

Some of the language that was used deserves appreciation, though.  One especially slutty character in the movie is described as “The Most Used Piece of Equipment in the Gym,” and then that woman later tells Travolta’s character, “I guess I’ll go out and see if I can scare up a gang bang.”  Most importantly, though, is the fact that we get to hear both Curtis and Travolta say “sphincter muscle.”

RELEVANCE: 4

There are 3 main points that this movie presents.  Lesson #1: The aerobic lifestyle is a cultural trend that should be taken seriously because it is evidence of a great physical and spiritual reawakening among the people who practice it.  It hints at an Emersonian future for America, a future where instead of relying on the government to do everything for them, the people are self-reliant.  Blah blah blah.  This weighty bullshit idea is only introduced because Travolta needs some bogus explanation as to why he’s doing a story on health clubs at all.  I don’t think it’s the intended message of the movie.  For that we go on to Lesson #2: You should buy Rolling Stone magazine, it’s awesome.  We do serious stories on international conspiracy, but we also do shallow, inane stories about how fitness clubs are the singles’ bars of the 80s, aren’t we awesome?

And finally, the third and most important lesson I learned from watching Perfect: Always sterilize gym equipment before you use it.

ORIGINALITY: 3

Perfect is a weird mish-mash of a story.  I can’t say any part of that mash makes for a movie that seems original in any way, though.  If this movie were a meal it would be potatoes with graham crackers and lettuce.  Each item has the potential to be a tasty dish if prepared with other more appropriate ingredients, but when they’re thrown together with little to no seasoning the end result is confusing and unspectacular.
CINEMATOGRAPHY: 3

Perfect had decent production values with little to no imagination behind the camera.

PRODUCTION DESIGN: 3

The soundtrack was full of shitty-awesome, muscle-pumping 80s synthesizer music.  It turns out Jermaine Jackson is responsible for most of it, and that alone accounts for all 3 points awarded in this category.  I was so disappointed with the costumes.  Sure, there were leotards, but only a few of them were laughably hideous.  If you make a movie about aerobics in the 80s, there should be some crazy retarded 80s aerobics costumes involved.  Is that really asking too much?

TOTAL:  36

Like finding out that your best friend left a turd in the upper tank of your mom’s toilet.

BETTER MOVIES FOR THIS TITLE:

Imagine a world where no one ever had to see John Travolta’s limp weiner through his shorts.  Why, that would be just……Perfect.

Or,
Perfect: The step-by-step video guide to skinnier living through the art of The Purge.  Hosted by Karen Carpenter and featuring self-induced bouts of real purging by Mary-Kate Olsen and Calista Flockhart.  Buy it for your teen today!

BETTER TITLES FOR THIS MOVIE:

Leotarded Love
Groins of Steel
Footmoose

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~ by mgjk on September 8, 2010.

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