- Movie Rating -

Perfect (1985)

| June 7, 1985

I have spent enough time in the world of journalism that I can confidently say that I can smell a phony from a mile away.  Perfect oozes phoniness from every pore.  John Travolta is not a journalist but he allegedly plays one in the movie, not a real journalist by the way, but a scriptwriter’s approximation of what a journalist does based on what he or she may have overheard.  He’s a movie journalist, meaning that he behaves in ways that journalists only do in the movies.

As Perfect opens, Travolta is Adam Lawrence who is supposedly a writer for “Rolling Stone” is speaking with a lawyer of a wealthy man who is being indicted on drug charges.  And yet, somewhere along the way, Lawrence finds it much more important to do a piece about an aerobic place called Sports Connections.  Of course, he’s free to write about whatever he wants, but in my opinion, I think the Sports Connections is kind of a snooze.  Advice: Stick to the lawyer, Mr. Lawrence.  That story has more meat on the bone.

The piece about the world of aerobics is not the most important story in the world, but he has his reasons.  He figures that the new landscape of health clubs is to the American landscape of the 1980s what single’s bars were to the 1970s.  Why, he apparently wants to know, do people have such a connection with want to tone and shape themselves into the perfect specimen of manhood/womanhood?

Travolta meets an aerobics instructor played by Jamie Lee Curtis and they immediately hit it off.  But later he writes a scathing bit about the health club scene that portrays the people who work in it as shallow and sexually deviant and she breaks things off.  She admits that she has been burned by journalists before, so then why is she so quick to get into relationship with this guy?

The other problem with the movie is that it can never nail down exactly who Travolta is suppose to be.  The relationship between he and Jamie Lee Curtis is, I guess, kind of interesting.  We’re supposed to believe that they are attracted to one another, but just when the movie needs some drama, he turns back into a journalist and betrays her trust.  It’s as if he has a split personality.  There’s not reason for him to betray her.  Love her or don’t love your, we’re thinking, shit or get off the pot.  You can’t have it both ways.

And even that’s not his biggest problem.  While he is pursuing and betraying Curtis, Travolta as a journalist is chasing the wrong woman.  The more in-depth story lies with one of Curtis’ students played by Lorraine Newman as a dowdy woman who wants to use the aerobics program and a heavy dose of plastic surgery to improve her looks and her self-esteem.  Why isn’t he pursuing that angle to the story?

In fact, why is Travolta a journalist anyway?  Why not have him be just another person at the health club?  Why not have him be another instructor, another student, a casual observer?  Why not have the movie be about either the Curtis character or the Newman character?  Excise the journalist angle and get right to the main story.  I’m working up a sweat here.

About the Author:

Jerry Roberts is a film critic and operator of two websites, Armchair Cinema and Armchair Oscars.
(1985) View IMDB Filed in: Drama