Perfect (1985)

The 80s were PERFECT

by, Adam Miller


People at ROLLING STONE clearly thought they were the shit in 1985. Adam (John Travolta) is one of their star reporters. He’s hip. He’s edgy. He wrote a negative article on Carly Simon who throws tomato juice in his face. And… Wait, did you see that? That was Carly Simon! In a cameo! In this movie! ROLLING STONE is so cool! And wait, are those pictures of Mick Jagger? Sweet! How cool is ROLLING STONE? I will tell you. ROLLING STONE is so cool that it can spend pages on articles about health clubs! Heck, they can make a whole movie about that which will be so awesome and good that they it shall be called… PERFECT!

(Did I mention that this movie was produced by ROLLING STONE?)

Perspective: PENTHOUSE makes CALIGULA. ROLLING STONE makes PERFECT. The trend… maybe magazines should stop making movies?

PERFECT shines of the light that is 80s trendiness… which is then beamed through the prism of a health spa and recast in all its rainbow spandex glory.

Leg warmers. Short shorts. Mullets. Manes. Synthesizers. “Sexercise.” PERFECT. Capische?

Before encouraging you to continue with this review I must insist that you watch the following clip (below). I know it’s long and that time is precious, but it would simply be impossible for me to capture its content in words. If you like, feel free to skip ahead to the one or even two minute mark…

Anyone up for wiener dogs?

What makes this film historic is that the above footage (and another 90 plus minutes like it) is treated with all seriousness; as if health clubs truly were the ground zero of a major cultural zeitgeist. There is absolutely zero irony in this film, which is of course what makes watching it so delightfully ironic.

Jessie (Jame Lee Curtis) catches the eye of Adam (John Travolta), the former an aerobics instructor, the latter a reporter for ROLLING STONE OMG ROLLING STONE, guyyyyys??? There is another plot, introduced earlier in the film, about the prosecution of a mob boss and how Adam is trying desperately to get an interview with the mobster. I would forgive you for thinking that Jessie would somehow be tied in to this plot line. Not the case. Adam is writing two completely unrelated stories: one about the mob, the other about a health club. There is no connection. And guess which one gets more onscreen attention.

Instead there’s a lot of secrecy about Jessie’s history with reporters (believe it or not, they twisted her words!) followed by the inevitable romance between Jessie and Adam. But you don’t really care about that. And frankly, the movie doesn’t really care about that either. The primary concern seems to be how good Jamie Lee Curtis looks in spandex and how incredibly, unflinchingly, uncompromisingly awesome the 80s are. So rather than continue with a traditional review. Here are some highlights of just how much awesome is the 80s:

1. In an early interview with Jessie, Adam says “Health clubs are little capitals of Emersonian America scattered from sea to shining sea.” You might think that he’s making this kind of stuff up off the top of his head to gain Jessie’s trust. Whatever the case, by film’s end Adam believes this himself and so too does the movie.

2. Of Jessie’s aforementioned backstory, we learn that she was once an Olympic swimmer bound for Moscow in 1980. Just one problem: the U.S. didn’t go to the Olympics in 1980 because Jimmy Carter boycotted them; a decision with which Jessie “vocally disagreed.” It would be the unraveling of Jessie’s career. Boy, the 80s sure did hate Jimmy Carter.

3. Lee Nicholl. You probably haven’t heard of him and his role in PERFECT is small. His acting credits on IMDB are limited to five credits (one of which is Aerobicise 1982!). But he has since become personal trainer to Nicolas Cage. One of the pictures below is Lee. The other is Roger Daltrey. That’s right, because the 80s were so awesome: EVERYONE WAS ROGER DALTREY.


4. ROLLING STONE covers featuring Mick Jagger smirking are awesome. So too are covers which finally have a reason to feature Christie Brinkley in spandex. We know they are awesome because everyone reads ROLLING STONE. In the 80s. Everyone. ROLLING STONE matters. In the 80s.

5. The 80s are so awesome, that if you’re a male stripper you only perform for women! DUH! In fact, no men are allowed inside your strip club. That’s right, because male strippers performing for other males would be g*y and in the 80s, g*y is not awesome. Ronald Reagan. Is awesome. 80s!

6. The conclusion of the film pulls a Judith Miller. Adam is subpoenaed and forced to hand over tapes of his interview with the aforementioned mob boss. He refuses and is sent to jail. As a result, the mob boss is acquitted and this is heralded as a GOOD thing because Adam stood up for journalistic integrity (did I already mention Adam works for ROLLING STONE and that ROLLING STONE made this movie?) Because in the 80s, Nixon would never have been forced to hand over those tapes! That is the 80s. That is awesome.

7. This movie is called PERFECT.

8. The 80s were PERFECT.

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