Staying Alive

Day Fourteen of the Two-Week Torturefest

Considering how much trouble I had enduring it, the film has nerve calling itself “Staying Alive”.


Directed by: Sylvester Stallone
Written by: Sylvester Stallone and Norman Wexler
Tony Manero: John Travolta
Jackie: Cynthia Rhodes
Laura: Finola Hughes
Also Starring: Frank Stallone, Joyce Hyser, Julie Bovasso, Norma Donaldson

Distributed by Paramount Pictures on July 11, 1983. Produced in English by the United States. Runs 93 mins. Rated PG by the MPAA–mature themes, language.

Staying Alive was watched on February 3, 2013.

“Who do you think you’re dealing with? Some little groupie who jumps when you call, is this who you think I am? We met, we made it, what do you think it was, true love? And you say I used you but what about you using me? Everybody uses everybody, don’t they?” –Laura (Finola Hughes)

Saturday Night Fever didn’t demand a sequel. In fact, it ended on a note that denied any reason for a sequel. But one day, Sylvester Stallone got severely inebriated and decided to come around as a fourth-time director. He passed out and vomited Staying Alive.

The film has too much wrong with it. Even the Alarm Clocks—I mean, the Bee Gees couldn’t save it, nor could Finola Hughes as an acceptable femme fatale. In Saturday Night Fever, John Travolta played a low-life adult in a teenage body, trying to find his life’s direction. So he did: dancing, specifically disco music.

Now it’s 1983, and traditional disco is dead. We’re supposed to know the year this was made without research, because its predecessor was released 1977. Travolta’s character isn’t unemployed. He has several jobs actually, but none of them he can appreciate, and somehow, none of them occupy his time. They range from working at a women’s jazz club—where his girlfriend also works—to serving drinks at the club. But he doesn’t dance for work anywhere. Note that. And somehow, he still has time to try and find a job where he can dance. Note that. He lives in two homes, too: one a ramshackle apartment, the other a beautiful mansion! Note that!

Is this sounding realistic to anyone? No? Good, I’m not insane. Travolta—whose character’s name is only mentioned a few, very select times—doesn’t look as sleep-deprived as he needed to be. The man works twenty-four-seven, and his eyes are anything but bloodshot. Al Pacino did it well in Insomnia, but that’s because he’s a great method actor. Travolta’s just a guy who is who he is. Why he’s acting, I’m not sure, but I guess that’s what floats his boat. Too bad it’s something of a hand grenade through the bottoms of our boats.

The story here is so thin, it’s mind-numbing. Think the original, but rehashed for a guy years older. I can understand it if a guy’s looking for a job or two that piques his interest, just as long as he takes a permanent leave of absence on the others (which, again, Travolta doesn’t). But Travolta played a twenty-year-old in Saturday Night Fever. He’s twenty-six now, at the very least. And even after he’s brought himself fame from dancing, he’s still searching for his future? I find that quite hard to believe. What’s even harder to believe is that the job he finds is on Broadway.

The assumption Staying Alive makes is that someone who subjects him- or herself to it has already seen Saturday Night Fever. Those who enjoyed that film, though, should have the sense not to watch any sequel. Sylvester Stallone co-wrote the screenplay with Norman Wexler, who wrote the initial work, as well. It becomes obvious just a few minutes through that both Wexler and Travolta never said anything to Stallone, perhaps in fear that he would go all Rocky Balboa on them both. But in that case, I guess I don’t blame them. Never in a million years would I tell someone like Sylvester Stallone “you’re fired” or “you’re doing it all wrong.”


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2 thoughts on “Staying Alive

  1. I’ve always thought it was the height of irony that John Travolta eventually becomes the lead in a Broadway production called “Satan’s Alley” which is billed as “a musical trip through Hell”. Indeed.

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