Staying Alive Reviews
The music was specially awesome!!!
Completely empty (and needless) follow-up to SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER is essentially an excuse to show off a series of mindless dance sequences, all of which contain not a single ounce of energy. Five years have passed, now Travolta's focused on a girl dancer and Broadway and . . . you can see the outcome coming miles away. You know you're in trouble when you can hardly remember a single thing from the movie even right after seeing it! Bad acting, embarrassing material. The Bee Gees couldn't even save this one.
Saturday Night Fever is arguably a classic, and there is a rare occasion where a classic needs a sequel. In the six years that have passed since Saturday Night Fever, the decades have changed. The former disco craze popularized by Saturday Night Fever that existed in the 1970's has long since peaked, experiencing a backlash from rock music fans as well as the notorious Disco Demolition Night of 1979. In essence, the disco glory days are long behind the year of 1983 and so the film must instead adhere to something more appropriate to the time. This hardly makes sense because the disco music and dance of Saturday Night Fever is what made it so iconic and a sequel which completely removes that notion would seem pointless from the get go. It takes little time before anyone not already aware of this notion will realize it while watching the actual film.
The intro scene kicks Staying Alive off with an "inspirational" 80's montage, a theme director Sylvester Stallone is all too familiar with. While Frank Stallone's "Far From Over" kicks the film off with life, the things actually being depicted are an endless barrage of confusing dance moves including a lot of necks which seem to violently circulate in an attempt to pop off the heads of the humans they sit atop of, as well as some epileptic arm movements. The immediate realization I got from seeing all this is that Staying Alive's predominant focus is to take the legacy established by its predecessor and soil it with an attempt to be more like 1983's critically panned Flashdance than its actual predecessor. Much of the drama in the film is routine material which has already been covered once before and doesn't need to be repeated, though it spends the majority of the film playing second-fiddle to its obsession with dance sequences.
In Saturday Night fever, the material holding the film up outside of its dancing sequences were the cultural relevance of its setting, the multiple interesting characters and the genuine edge of gritty material. With Staying Alive, the film plays it way too safe and puts the burden essentially all on the shoulders of John Travolta and a collection of supporting players. If the cast is not wandering through the scenery at a slow pace and pondering the meaning of existence, they are performing some really strange dance sequences. Like I said before, it is a lot of awkward arm and head movements which Sylvester Stallone considers to be intelligent dance moves. They may edit into a montage nicely with Frank Stallone music, but there is no inspiration in the. And rather than capturing the dance scenes as the spectacle needed to actually support the film as some kind of a guilty pleasure, Staying Alive has its dance numbers shot as if they were part of a music video. It's enough that the dance scenes are already so strangely choreographed, but they are filmed no better even though they are the most entertaining scenes in the film. But it's clear as far back as the beginning that they are already burdened by a visual style which plagues Staying Alive throughout every moment.
The entire film has a rather murky visual style. Almost surreal with its darkness, Staying Alive is so lacking in sensible lighting that there is constantly a sense of shadow overtaking everything, leaving the colour palette rather monochromatic. As well as that, anything which is not extremely close to the camera ends up blurred into the background as if camouflaged with the colours around them. Elements of the soundtrack may have appeal such as Frank Stallone's Golden Globe-nominated song "Far From Over" which is a piece so rich with 80's groove that it perfectly captures the tone Sylvester Stallone is going for, but Staying Alive is hardly a treat on the eyes or the mind despite a soundtrack with some decent songs.
As a result of all this, the cast are left stranded in one-dimensional roles and perform as such.
Returning to his Academy Award nominated role of Tony Manero, John Travolta offers little innovation to the role. While his muscular stature is impressive and his ability to dance with raw passion captures the hot-blooded spirit of the iconic character, the material offers him no new challenges. He simply brings back some of the dying spirit that gave him charm in Saturday Night Fever and milks them for what he can in Staying Alive, though it is hardly enough to breathe any real life into material this lacklustre. John Travolta's handsome appeal may reach die-hard fans, but he has nothing new to offer in the acting department.
Finola Hughes is not a brilliant newcomer. Though she keeps her energy active during the awkward dance scenes, there is nothing of value to her character and little iconic outside of her English accent amongst a crowd of generic American voices. She has little distinctive about her, and her attempts to bring the melodrama to life come off simply as an odd mix of pompous and pretentious with no positive results on the film's dramatic credibility, if there is any in the first place. Finola Hughes brings nothing memorable to Staying Alive and fails to inspire any kind of sparks with John Travolta.
Cynthia Rhodes ends up with some of the most tediously sentimental material in the film. And though she has a genuine feeling of humanity about her as well as an energetic physical spirit, she cannot transcend the heavy weight laid down on her by the poor script.
So though Staying Alive offers a distinctively 80's feeling thanks in part to the music of Frank Stallone, it is burdened by a story which goes nowhere but in in circles of decade-related cliches while abandoning the disco glory of the 1970's for a series of senseless dance sequences.
Plot is thin, but the behind-the-scenes look at a Broadway dance show is interesting. Far too much time is spent on the actual show though, making you think that the whole movie may as well have been one big recording of a dance show.
Music is kind of cheesy, specially the music in the Broadway production.
Acting is so-so. Cynthia Rhodes gives probably the only convincing performance. John Travolta is his usual one-dimensional self and Finola Hughes is irritating.
Tony Manero and a fellow dancer are best friends and an -and-off again couple. They try out for a show together and Tony pursues a key crush and main character in the show. Tony and his best friend get minor parts in the show and Tony gets a date with the girl where they have sex, but then she wants no part of him. Tony has resentment to the girl and his best friend quickly becomes irritated.
"She's in good hands."
"What are you, All State?"
"Yeah, want disability?"
Sylvester Stallone, director of Rocky II-IV, Rocky Balboa, Paradise Ally, and The Expendables, delivers Staying Alive. The storyline for this was entertaining and very fun to watch unfold. Some scenes seemed unrealistic, but others were fun. The conclusion could have been better. I enjoyed the acting and the cast includes John Travolta, Cynthia Rhodes, Finola Hughes, and Joyce Hyser.
"You know what I want to do?"
I have been ashamed I haven't seen this for some time so I was excited to find this on Netflix. This was a fun film and is definitely dated (which is what makes this film work). Overall, this is a cheesy fun film that is worth a viewing and has some nostalgic magic like Dirty Dancing.
"Everybody uses everybody, don't they?"
Sylvester Stallone writes, produces, directs and cameos in a rather out there sequel to Saturday Night Fever.
Tony Manero was a somebody in 70s Brooklyn. Now living in Manhattan, he is a wannabe Broadway dancer and actual part time dance class instructor/waiter.
He meets a snooty dancer who is playing the lead in a show his girlfriend dances in and scores a part in her next show. A love triangle develops as Tony struggles with his own identity and shortcomings. Yada yada yada.
How Tony Manero has gone from discotheque king to Broadway is anyone's guess, but you have to leave the last film at the door. What we have here is a high camp masterpiece complete with Frank Stallone music (and a bit part) and Bob Mackie costuming. It's mostly a showcase for Travolta's ass and lunchbox which are beautifully framed in a series of tight trousers.
An absurd film, but up there in the "so bad it's good" pantheon.