A lot of folks consider this not only a horrendous sequel but also just an all around bad film. And I get it. I don’t necessarily agree will all of that but I do get it. I mean why the fuck do you need a sequel to Saturday Night Fever? It was self-contained and didn’t leave very many burning questions. What else is there to say about this character?
Well it does seem logical that Tony (Travolta) would set his sights on Broadway next so I’ll give credit for that. It also makes sense that he would move to Manhattan to try and further his career, become a dance instructor and take other odd jobs until he gets his big break and even still act like a jerk. What doesn’t add up is that Tony doesn’t curse, drink or smoke. The first movie was a pretty raunchy R but this one is a tame PG. And it’s really weird is that Stallone (who writes, produces and directs here) felt like he needed to justify this new tone and gives Tony some line about having a new outlook on life. Yeah I don’t care for the switch to PG but to provide an explanation to the audience seems bizarre to me. It’s like Stallone broke the fourth wall for a moment.
Anyway, Travolta looks like he’s having a good time. Tony is less moody and slightly more grown up. He cracks a lot of jokes, like a lot of jokes. And the shit he dishes out is classic Stallone humor. In fact I think Stallone turned Tony into himself pretty much. The no cursing, smoking, drinking, very goofy attitude and eternal optimism are all traits of the man. Every piece of Tony’s dialogue I could totally picture Sly saying in another movie or actually even more in real life.
Speaking of Stallone he does an alright job directing. Definitely not as good as Rocky II, III or, hell, even The Expendables (even though it wasn’t a great flick). Come to think of it this is probably the worst I’ve seen him as a director. There are four really annoying things that he does here. The first is there are too many montages. Sly, buddy, why the fuck were there like twenty montages? Well actually I can give a pretty good guess what the answer is which leads me to the next annoyance. Ok, I know this is going to sound really stupid but there’s too much dancing. I know you’re thinking, “this is a fucking dancing movie, what did you expect?” Sure this thing needs to have dancing in it but holy shit is there a lot of it. This along with the montages (most of which consist of people dancing) were there probably to pad out the film. There isn’t much of a story: Tony auditions for a Broadway production, gets in and there’s also a love triangle. In order to fill out those 90 minutes they just made the dancing and montage scenes as long as they needed. Saturday Night Fever had a bunch of dancing but it was to support the story and characters. Here it’s played up as the main attraction while everything else takes a backseat.
Items three and four have to do with the two female leads. Jackie (Cynthia Rhodes (Dirty Dancing, Flashdance)) is Tony’s…umm…well that’s just the problem. I couldn’t tell if she was supposed to be Tony’s girlfriend or just his friend. She says she loves him towards the end but were we supposed to know this all along? It’s not clear at all. And this is important information to be fuzzy on because the love triangle doesn’t work or have any emotional weight if she’s just a friend that doesn’t have the hots for Tony. The other woman in the equation, Laura (Fiona Hughes (Aspen Extreme)), is too sinister of a bad guy. She’s the star of the Broadway show and she wants Tony as a boy toy and not a real boyfriend. This is fine but Stallone made the character utterly heartless. She’s so cold with her constant dumb smile or smirk. It’s like the part was played by a robot. And because Laura is such an empty shell of a person I can’t even work myself up to dislike her. She’s just there on screen and you know she’s mean but you don’t feel one way or another about her.
The show that Tony’s in is called Satan’s Alley and the director describes it as a journey into hell and then an ascent into heaven. The plot is supposed to follow the same idea but it kind of doesn’t. Tony starts in hell (not being in a Broadway show) and only rises (he gets in a Broadway show). It’s pretty much a straight line and not a curve. There isn’t any character development. That happened off screen in between films when Tony gave up his vices and vulgar speech. What we’re given here is more like the ending to a story and not a complete tale in and of itself. So the fatal flaw of the movie is that it focuses on a part of Tony’s life that’s pretty uninteresting. If Stallone wanted this character reformed then we should see that reform and what the cause was to bring it on. I think that would’ve been a better picture.
So sure it’s not very good and pretty shitty compared to its predecessor but it’s certainly not unwatchable. Entertainment Weekly called this the worst sequel ever made. Really? I beg to differ. Rocky V is at least on par with this and The Lost World: Jurassic Park is a total piece of fucking crap. I would rather see this than Blues Brothers 2000 any day. I don’t think Staying Alive is quite as terrible as people make it out to be but it’s definitely not good or even worth seeing. It’s just averagely bad. And also it doesn’t have very much to do with the first one except that our main character’s name is Tony. I guess it was good that they didn’t call this Saturday Night Fever II. Check out Saturday Night Fever I though. That one really is a damn good film.