Staying Alive 1983 ****


A sequel to Saturday Night Fever isn’t such a bad idea; there was plenty of juice left in the Tony Manero character played by John Travolta in the 1977 original to justify another trip to the well. But Staying Alive, despite the return of Travolta and the original writer, is a completely different animal, a pumped-up, be-all-you-can-be slice of extravagant male narcissism that plays like a comedy. Director Sylvester Stallone has an obvious affinity for training montages, and he indulges it repeatedly as Tony trains for a part in a Broadway show called Satan’s Alley. But instead of songs by the Bee Gees, Stallone has reached out no further than his brother Frank, whose music adorns the film like a lead chain. Grammy-winner Far From Over is pretty good, but much of the rest is 80’s sludge, and Travolta’s preening, self-absorbed performance as Manero doesn’t help lift the mood. An anti-hero in the first film, Manero is a complete tool here, dressed in spandex and more in love with himself then any of the women here. Staying Alive is a wonderfully awful film, full of scenes amusing because they are so far off the mark in guessing what the audience might want to see. It’s Saturday Night Fever on steroids, and the steroids seem to have rotted the thinking of everyone concerned.

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