Review: Perfect (1985) Blu Ray Release from Mill Creek (2016)

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Oh boy, I certainly do have flashbacks in regard to 1985’s Perfect starring John Travolta and Jamie Lee Curtis. Firstly, John Travolta is playing a character whose name is “Adam”. Secondly, it’s the first movie that Rolling Stone magazine would endorse as the legitimate publication in the film. Thirdly, I remember the At The Movies, or was it still Sneak Previews or Siskel & Ebert, showing the clip from the Jamie Lee Curtis aerobics class where both genders are gyrating their crotches in very suggestive ways that made me, as a then 11 year old, uncomfortable in my own regions. As of now a 42 year old, it still makes me uncomfortable in my own regions. The Blu Ray is all-region, by the way.

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I suppose if a movie is going to tackle some hard journalism it might as well include Rolling Stone and if you’re going to couple that with a trend of the 80’s you might as well include aerobic studios and health clubs. I’m now about to spin Perfect and I hope it’s not as superficial as I remember it. Hahahahahaha!

The Columbia Pictures title card is plays “Jingle Bells” in the background, does this happen to be a Christmas holiday movie? If so, why am I not watching this on an annually? Oh, wait, I guess it just opens during Christmas but doesn’t have to do with the actual exposition, just coincidence. If anything it shows how Adam got his start as an obituary writer then jumps 5 years later while he’s in New York as a journalist for Rolling Stone magazine.

Adam, while in the process of pursuing an interview with a high profile news story, is asked to write another story as his initial pursuit dries up. Now in Los Angeles, Adam dives headlong into the world of sport clubs becoming the new hook up/dating arena. After choosing an add in the Yellow Pages he visits the club to get the lay of the land, meet a few potential couples-singles, and is smitten by aerobic instructor Jessie Wilson, played by Jamie Lee Curtis.

The charm and likability meter is a 10 out of 10… should I say “perfect”? So far I like these two, their characters are believable, and the story is compelling. The dialog sounds right coming from the two of them but would sound goofy coming from lesser actors. It is almost treading on Showgirls ground but in a little bit of a more sophisticated way. Take a Joe Eszterhas script, clean up the snarky dialog, and keep the flirtation.

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The over the top aerobics class as sex is effective but those shorty shorts that Travolta wears are a bit too much. Is that eye candy for anyone? I also think he has a bit of a chubby… not that I was looking but it’s “hard” not to notice, it’s very in your face and not very subtle. Luckily the majority of the movie isn’t an 80’s excess exposé like Adam’s character is trying to expose. From a movie of this time I would expect spandex worn outside of the club, big hair, valley girl attitudes, surfer boy ignorance, and a lot of neon.
It’s refreshing to see it’s not what I would’ve expected to be stereotypical or even prototypical instead, in many ways; it feels timeless within the construct of its time. It’s a lot more down to Earth than I would have expected. They portray the 1985 that I remember without exploiting or satirizing the environment. It could easily be set in a different city across the country where aerobics and health clubs were big business and a trend in social meet-ups.

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If you’re wondering what the dynamic tension is of the story need look no further than Adam’s journalistic drive. He will get the story no matter what it takes using his charm and less than honest intensions. The plot switches focus about halfway through as to show another aspect of the inner LA fitness-friends circle. Adam takes advantage of a vulnerable Laraine Newman to go deeper into the story but does Adam feel bad about that? Does Adam see how fragile people are or does he stay within his journalistic boundaries? I couldn’t ever understand the pressures of California beauty on a deep level as simply viewing it as an observer, much like how Adam is but he is blurring the lines between observer and manipulator/participant.

Then, Frankie (played by Anne De Salvo), the self-proclaimed best Rolling Stone photographer, comes to LA to shoot rolls of film for the article and she shines. She’s a no filter assertive photographer that gets the shots she needs. It’s one of the best characterizations of a journalist photographer that I’ve ever seen on screen, seriously, she’s that awesome. Do I see an Annie Leibovitz influence? Frankie equals Annie, right? You really cannot deny the look as well. Did she make it her own? I don’t know but Anne De Salvo is captivating and natural in how she plays it albeit not a huge role.

At this point Adam’s journalistic integrity is in question and his deadlines are absolute. Adam, in a rush and a part of being defiant, sends in a fluff-piece to Rolling Stone but the editors decide to pad the article with some dirty background that Adam swore to keep away from his article. The article ends up pissing everyone off in every way possible. So how is this entire situation going to wrap up? Is it a simple misunderstanding? Can it be explained? Is it worth being explained?

Adam’s original article was initially hurtful regardless of his promises or retractions. It’s a movie that throws a bunch of ethical questions up in the air like backyard Jarts and where they land could mean a spike in the head or points within the circle. Jarts are banned but Perfect is not. If you feel like you have the ambition and drive to be a journalist then this is the movie for you. It takes on all the conflict of what is right and wrong within a journalist’s head. Is it much different than today, 2016? The mentality and/or conflict are the same as it ever was. Truth is truth. Lies are lies.

The thing is, it’s not a bad film. Sure, it has its own minor flaws and it’s not a DePalma directed film, but it’s fun to watch having real connections on both the optimistic and seedy side of journalism. One would hope it all looks good for everyone in the end but “no press is bad press” is just as relevant in 2016 as it were in 1985, just the delivery medium has changed slightly. Is there more at stake? Can it be corrected? Isn’t there a law to protect journalists? You’ll have to watch to see how it all plays out. It’s rated “R” for adult language and adult situations.

This is my favorite of the four films on this Blu Ray collection. The video transfer looks just as good as I would expect and, most importantly, the aspect ratio is correctly displayed.

Perfect (1985) – Rated R, distributed by Mill Creek. “Sun, Sand, & Sweat” 4-Movie Collection Blu-ray (2016). Columbia Pictures.

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