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STAYING ALIVE. Directed by Sylvester Stallone; written by Sylvester Stallone and Norman Wexler; produced by Robert Stigwood and Sylvester Stallone for Paramount. Starring John Travolta, Cynthia Rhodes and Fiona Hughes. Rated PG.


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It has been almost six years since Tony Manero—lunch can in hand—first strutted down that street in Brooklyn, making a star out of John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever.

Tony is now living in Manhattan and trying to make it on Broadway. How he manages to do this, along the way learning to appreciate both Mom and his devoted girlfriend, constitutes the predictable plot of Staying Alive.

This kind of story has sentimental appeal, if not originality. Travolta is a decent actor and as a dancer he's entertaining. To boot, his often-seen bare body is no less than magnificent. Unfortunately, that's about all there is to recommend in this movie.

The dialogue tries too hard for its few humorous moments. And the music, which permeates the whole movie, is largely unremarkable. However, the dancing is fun and the "big show," which ends up making Tony a star, is imaginative and energetic. I have to say, though, that some of the Poltergeist-like special effects (yes, on Broadway) are often overwhelming.

Comparisons of Staying Alive with its predecessor are inevitable. Travolta is the star of both, but the larger supporting case of SNF was quite good, while in Staying Alive only Rhodes as Jackie, Tony's long-suffering girlfriend, is worth mentioning.

Interestingly, Tony's character is much the same although at the end of SNF he had ostensibly grown up. People-wise, he's still pretty dumb here and cannot seem to keep himself from getting "too heavy" with the big star in the show, or being insensitive and cruel to Jackie.

The music and dancing is as central in Staying Alive as it was in SNF, but even though the earlier movie's disco sound is now a bit quaint, at least there were some good tunes on that soundtrack. The only one that makes an impression in Staying Alive is the title song, which, of course, is a reprise from SNF.

The long and the short of it is that Staying Alive has a lot to offer Travolta fans, but not very much for anyone else. And even his fans might wish he had a stronger showcase for his not-inconsequential acting ability.

July 27, 1983

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