Does fall short as a Sequel, but it's still Tony Manero
L.A. Scene | Indian Trail, NC USA | 02/21/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Sometimes timing is everything for a movie. One would think if you make a sequel to one of the most successful movies ever, "Saturday Night Fever" (complete with its original star John Travolta) and bring in a superstar like Sylvester Stallone to write and direct - it should be primed for an instant hit. However, this 1983 sequel "Staying Alive" was not a commercial success. Some may even deem it a failure. Like most sequels, it does fall short of the original movie. But "Staying Alive" isn't that bad a movie. The problem with "Staying Alive" is it came out on the coattails of the anti-Disco movement. "Saturday Night Fever" epitomized everything about the Disco movement. While "Staying Alive" isn't a movie about the Disco era, it still is associated with it. But I think it still was never given the chance it should have had.
"Staying Alive" continues the story of Tony Manero. In "Saturday Night Fever", John Travolta played Tony, a 19 year old from Bay Ridge Brooklyn - he was in a dead end job going nowhere while dealing with never meeting his family's expectations. However, when Tony went to the local Disco - he was instantly transformed into an icon because of his talent on the dance floor. This talent, combined with Tony's personality gave him almost a royalty status. By the end of "Saturday Night Fever", Tony realizes he needs to take control of his life - thus this sets the stage for "Staying Alive". "Staying Alive" takes place six years later. In this, Tony is now trying to make it as a Professional Dancer in Manhattan. In order to make ends meet, he waits tables and teaches dance class. Tony then gets an opportunity to be a dancer in a Broadway Musical - this eventually turns into a lead opportunity.
In "Saturday Night Fever", there were two women in Tony's life - Annette and Stephanie. Annette was a girl who worshipped Tony, but Tony wanted nothing to do with her. Stephanie - was an upcoming career girl who was a fabulous dancer. Although Stephanie came from a similar background from Tony, she had gotten out of the Bay Ridge scene - and would unintentionally become a catalyst for Tony to do the same. In "Staying Alive", there are two women as well: Jackie - a dancer/singer played by Cynthia Rhodes who was Tony's on again/off again girlfriend. The other woman is Laura - an established and famous Dancer, whom like Stephanie - Tony will get infatuated with. Both are going to be in the Broadway Show that Tony is in - with Laura as the female lead.
One thing that made "Saturday Night Fever" great was the humor. "Staying Alive" does a very good job in this department. In a lot of ways, Stallone uses the humor to soften up Tony Manero's personality. As a result, it really is Tony's humor that is the main source of the humor throughout the movie. The scenes in Tony's boarding house are very funny - particularly how Tony deals with the less than dynanic neighbors in which he has nothing in common. The other source of humor comes from Flo Manero - Tony's mother. Flo is played by Julie Bovasso - the only other character to return to the sequel from the original movie.
The one thing that is disappointing is that it is only Tony and Flo who are the returning characters from "Saturday Night Fever". One thing that made "Saturday Night Fever" so great were that there were some great characters that surrounded Tony - in particular Tony's friends (Double J, Joey, Gus, Bobby C) and Tony's family (Frank Manero, Father Frank, Tony's Grandmother, and Tony's younger sister). While I don't think you could have brought back all of the characters (in particular Bobby C dies in "Saturday Night Fever"), some of the characters would have been nice. I would have also liked to have seen Tony's new maturity and how it reflected on his friends.
One of the strong performances of "Staying Alive" comes from Steve Inwood. Inwood plays Jesse - he is the Director of the Musical that Tony is in. Inwood delivers the role with a lot of intensity and makes you really think he is a director. I was surprised that such a performance did not lead to more opportunities for Inwood because it was such a good performance.
There are some interesting appearances and cameos in the movie. Director Sylvester Stallone makes an uncredited cameo as someone whom Tony bumps into on the street. Patrick Swayze also has a uncredited cameo as a dancer (kind of ironic because Cynthia Rhodes would go on to star in his big "dance" movie - "Dirty Dancing"). Sylvester Stallone's brother Frank plays Carl - a singer in the band whom Jackie is in. There are also some humorous scenes with Tony and Carl.
The music in "Staying Alive" isn't as strong as "Saturday Night Fever". The BeeGees are back for some new songs, but these songs are not Disco Dance songs - they are more reflective of the Adult Contemporary style they adopted in the 80s. Frank Stallone, Tommy Faragher, and Cynthia Rhodes also contribute songs to the soundtrack. These songs are definitely reflective of the Synth Pop style of 1983. They are decent songs, but it would be a great injustice to compare this soundtrack to the landmark soundtrack of "Saturday Night Fever".
Overall, this is still a very good movie. The ending is a little weak - namely because finale deals with the opening of the show and I think Stallone over engineered the finale to try to build some excitement. In particular, I didn't think dirty laundry needed to be aired on the dance floor. I think if this was released a few years earlier or a few years later, it would have done better at the box office. I'd still recommend checking it out."
Good guilty pleasure!
Emily Nance | Charlotte, NC United States | 10/25/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Staying Alive is definitely not the best movie ever made but one I continually go back to - mainly for the music. The soundtrack was understandably ignored because Saturday Night Fever was such a masterpiece but the new Bee Gees songs are terrific, Frank Stallone's songs are good and Cynthia Rhodes is wonderful as well. I don't understand why she didn't have a bigger career. She's a great dancer and singer. Finola Hughes has some terrific dance scenes too - especially the one in which John Travolta first sees her. I agree with critics that the storyline is not that great and you do wonder what happened to all of Tony's family and friends. But the movie is worth seeing - just not to be taken too seriously. Definately worth buying the soundtrack. Pay special attention to "Moody Girl" - "Life Goes On" - and "Finding Out the Hard Way""
C.H. | Beach Park, IL | 12/14/2001
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Six years after "Saturday Night Fever", Tony Manero is a waiter struggling to make it on Broadway. He lives in a fleabag hotel and does his laundry in the shower. His character has matured, but he still disses the nice girl who adores him (Cynthia Rhoades) while pining for a pompous snot-nose (Finola Hughes). Now viewed as a 1980's camp classic (and a good bad movie), the film suffers from director Stallone's infusion of a "Rocky" formula and a certain blandness - the characters here don't generate half the interest of those in the original film. I actually think some of them, like Tony's dance partner and brother (Karen Lynn Gorney and Martin Shaker) could have been carried over into this movie, as their characters still could have gone places. Travolta has a laughable scene with his mother (Julie Bovasso, the only returning cast member) and the finale - "Satan's Alley" plays like an extended MTV video. Frank Stallone contributes most of the songs (bite my tongue) and The Bee Gees offer a few minor but worthy tunes. A hefty dose of flashy early '80's nostalgia, but not much else."
STARS FOR CYNTHIA!!!!
Patrick D. Mayo | Huntington Beach, CA | 07/15/2001
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Although I tend to agree with most everyone about the storyline, I feel that Cynthia Rhodes, as Jackie, displayed a depth of talent that Stallone and Travolta could only dream of. Her dancing was as hot as the lead's (Finola Hughes) when she helps Travolta prep for the lead. Her singing has emotion and depth, and she displayed great acting ability. (Check out the scene where she walks away from John after he makes a date to meet with her, and then flirts with Finola Hughes as Cynthia walks around the corner. She stops and looks back pensively and without a word shows more emotional range in that look than Travolta does throughout the whole movie.) I agree with the reviewer who wonders why this gorgeous, talented actress has not had more success in the business than she has. Cynthia is the only reason why I watch this movie whenever it comes on."
Good actors, bad story
L.A. Scene | 09/29/2000
(2 out of 5 stars)
"I think this movie would have been a hit if the story would have been different. Cynthia Rhodes plays Tony's passive yet sweet girlfriend, Finola Hughes plays Tony's famous and successful obsession. Tony is seeing Rhodes at the beginning of the movie, then starts cheating on her with Hughes, who plays a good, uh, bee with an itch. :) If that sounds dumb, sorry, but I doubt amazon.com wants the actual word spelled out! Anyway, Rhodes follows Tony around like a newborn puppy and accepts whatever he dishes out. Though likable, she is a little bit pathetic. Hughes plays a character one just has to love to hate! There is so much chemistry between her and Travolta I almost hoped he would choose her. As for the Broadway finale, I loved it! A friend who is a ballet dancer points out he really doesn't dance much, just spins around and jumps, but from a shallow point of view, HE IS HOT! Hughes is great, as is Rhodes, though she is rarely shown dancing. If you want to see her dance, watch Dirty Dancing. She plays Penny, the instructor who got into "trouble". As for the rest of SA, it bothered me that none of Tony's old friends were mentioned. We see his mother, but they don't talk about the family or how Tony coped with his friend's suicide. And where was his girlfriend from Fever?! Good movie, but horrible writing!"