…and take a nice friendly pass on Physical, a half-hour Apple series set to debut on 6.18? It’s apparently just another self-empowerment saga aimed at women of a certain age, set in the ’80s and starring Rose Byrne, etc.
I’m only saying that the trailer for Perfect (’85) persuades that despite being one of James Bridges‘ lesser efforts, it’s clearly a smarter, sharper, more handsomely produced A-level film than Physical ever dreamt of being. Obviously — you can tell immediately.
(A year earlier Bridges’ Mike’s Murder, a Los Angeles-based love story-slash-drug murder film with a lead performance from Debra Winger that becomes more poignant every time I re-watch it, received a bungled, half-hearted release from Warner Bros.)
I saw Perfect once 36 years ago, and I don’t recall anyone gasping or doing handstands or backflips. I shrugged it off, never gave it a second think. But I’d much rather sit through it again than watch Byrne reinvent herself as a celebrity gymnast while working out to “Video Killed The Radio Star.”
From Vincent Canby‘s N.Y. Times review of Perfect (6.7.85):
“If Alan Pakula‘s fine film adaptation of All the President’s Men can be said to mark the beginning of a new kind of journalism film, James Bridges’s Perfect, suggested by a piece in Rolling Stone magazine by Aaron Latham, may mark the absolute, idiotic end.
“John Travolta [plays] a Rolling Stone reporter named Adam Lawrence — a modestly romanticized version of Mr. Latham. Perfect is all about how Adam, representing the press, gets turned into a softie and a celebrity simultaneously in his efforts to interview [a John DeLorean-like indicted businessman] and in doing a story about a Los Angeles aerobics center called the Sports Connection.
“While in Los Angeles attempting to get his interview, hotshot Adam, like Mr. Latham, also sets out to write a story to be called ‘Looking for Mr. Goodbody,’ the point being that what the singles bars were to the 1970’s, the high-tech physical fitness parlors are to the 1980’s. That is, places where young people can tone their own bodies and make connections with other bodies in various stages of perfection.
“Perfect is too superficially knowing to be a camp classic, but it’s an unintentionally hilarious mixture of muddled moralizing and all-too-contemporary self-promotion. It’s apparently with a straight face that Mr. Bridges, who wrote the screenplay with Mr.Latham, says that the film is ‘about how the First Amendment should protect all the media.'”
“Mostly, though, it’s about autoeroticism, to judge from all the scenes, inserted throughout the movie like production numbers in a musical, of Jesse (Jamie Lee Curtis), the mistress of ”slimnastics,” as she leads her classes in bumping, grinding and shaking the blues and fat away to a big disco beat.
“Adam wants to interview Jesse for his story, but she refuses, explaining mysteriously that she’s already been burned once by the press. Instead, she falls in love with him, and he with her. Rather than focusing on her, Adam decides to do a sarcastic report on a couple of nearly perfect young women and their sex lives in the world of physical fitness.
“There’s more than this to the plot of Perfect, which is less complicated than ‘War and Peace’ but somewhat more difficult to follow, partially because the piece that Mr. Latham actually wrote about the Sports Connection was very much like the piece that Mr. Travolta’s Latham character disavows within the film. But what’s a small point like that if you want to get a movie made?”