Put down that Activia and listen up. I accidentally saw Freaky Friday again (as funny as ever) so Jamie Lee Curtis was bouncing round in me brain. Long before Curtis was regulating the nation with great yogurt (What? It works.) she was already something of an icon of health & fitness.
Her marvelous bod first got a ton of media attention in Trading Places (1983, t'was the boobs). Most famously, the blockbuster True Lies (1994) exploited her goods with that memorable striptease sequence.
And twenty-five years ago this very day, Perfect (1985) opened. This proved to be the most literal interpretation of her 'Let's Get Physical' career thread. She even had Olivia Newton-John hair. In the film she played Jessie, "the aerobics pied piper" at the Sports Erection... excuse me... Sports Connection that Rolling Stone reporter Adam (John Travolta) is about to crucify in a big condescending expose about health clubs as the new singles bars.
Jessie is too savvy to agree to be Adam's profile subject but too enamored of the cleft chin'ed one not to bed him. This leads to one of the most ridiculous pre-sex metaphorical banter ever heard on film (warm up = foreplay and, well, you get the picture from there) and an even more ridiculous post coital scene. After their lovemaking Travolta attends Curtis's slimnastics class and for an ENTIRE FIVE MINUTES (I'm not even exaggerating by one second) we watch them doing a sweaty intense pelvic gyration routine while making ooh and aah and youaresobadyousexything faces at each other. It's hideous!
Adding to the hilarity is the lyrics of the song that's playing. "Shock me til I can't sit up I can't sit down. Oh no... temperatures higher" -- which sounds like... well, the characters might want to hit the free health clinic after their sexworkout. [Sadly it's one of the movie's only moments that's so-bad-it's-good. The film is too inert and serious overall to have become a fondly remembered Bad Movie We Love.]
Late in the movie Jessie's worst fears are confirmed about Adam and what he intends to write. She sees this heinous article on his computer AND I MUST SHOW YOU THE COMPUTER BECAUSE OF THE CRUCIAL QUESTION OF WHAT IS IT???
I don't even understand what I'm looking at. It's like a desktop computer grafted onto the back of a laptop with some sort of stand/lift on the back. And giant yellow letters, only 16 lines of them, on the screen. To erase it -- which Jessie does in anger -- she has to backspace every line. There's not even a highlight/delete function.
This movie should be placed in the Smithsonian it tells you so much you'd forgotten about the 80s. For example, I had completely forgotten that "eat shit and die" was like an every-single-day insult between friends and that people said "sleaze" instead of skank, slut or ho.
For reasons only my late 80s self comprehends, I was very obsessed with Jamie Lee Curtis's line reading of "What's so wrong with wanting to be perfect?" It's the only thing I remembered about the movie in 2010 before looking at it again. Watching it now, it's still an emotional climax but it's more blah than I'd remembered. Like the rest of the movie. It's one of those "duh" and OOH... SPEAK YOUR THEMES TO ME *HOT* moments that I sometimes like to make fun of in modern movies. Anyway, before Jamie Lee has her would be famous speech, she calls John Travolta a bitch. Which is awesome. And very non 80s of her, I think. Then she lays into the bitch.
You talked to me about Emerson and Baby Boomers and Physical Great Awakening and all you do is write a fucking little piece about people getting into each other's pants.He whines "But every thing I wrote is true."
It's not the truth I'm worried about, it's the tone... and hurting people and using them.The her in question is Linda played by Laraine Newman. I remember this supporting role was kind of a big deal at the time because Newman was an SNL regular and she's pretty good in a dramatic role as the desperate workout fanatic and "sleaze".
You're so disgusting. How can you be nice to somebody like McKenzie and then shit on Linda? What did she ever do to you or anybody else for that matter? Nothing! What's wrong with wanting to be the best that you can be? What's so wrong with wanting to be perfect? What's wrong with wanting to be loved?
You're going to ruin her life.
Perfect has a terrible reputation but it's actually kind of interesting in a time capsule way even though, no, it's not particularly good. It's angsty take on journalistic ethics is fairly typical of movies but it's an eye opener to watch this and remember that working out regularly was once looked down on as a fad and there's also the constant and now shocking reminder that magazine articles use to have major cultural impact. The life of a writer was certainly different.
Jessie: How many articles do you write a year?Many writers nowadays have to churn out several a day. Quality and depth of research have surely suffered in this content and pageview driven new world.
Adam: I dunno. Ten?
But I don't mean to be a draggy downer like the film. Despite it's glum mood, it's sort of adorkable anyway since it has forgotten 80s lingo, hilariously awful 80s music, memorable 80s people (Rolling Stone founder Jan Wenner in his chubby pre-coming out days plays a Rolling Stone editor, Carly Simon cameos, Marilu Henner!) and actual 80s fashions (rather than costumed designed interpretations) all the way from single girl party wear to stripper costumes to workout clothes. You even see what we now call "mom jeans" on hot young pieces like Jamie Lee. Even Jamie Lee can't make them work. She looks better naked.
It's like these three characters (a throuple) say in the film.
"The better your body looks the more you want to take off your clothes."*
Have you ever tried aerobics? Which movie most screams "authentic 80s!" to you?
Adam's "Signatures: Jamie Lee Curtis"
Susan's Top Ten Movie Hookers
JA's Top Ten Actress in a Horror Film Performancess