July 15, 1983
Earlier in this series we talked about how PSYCHO II was a risky, unlikely sequel of ’83 that was so good it actually went over pretty well. There’s another one that did not go over well at all (though it made about $30 million more than PSYCHO II at the box office). Like RETURN OF THE JEDI, this one is a sequel to a huge hit and pop culture phenomenon from 1977.
How is it that there’s a sequel to SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER, and it’s directed by Sylvester Stallone, but I didn’t see it until now? I was always curious, but I knew it wasn’t about disco, it looks like he’s doing aerobics on the cover, and I’d only ever heard it mentioned as a punchline, so it stayed low on my watch list until I decided to study the summer of ’83. Only after watching it did I read up on it and realize it was pretty much a universally hated movie. Wikipedia says it’s “the earliest film to hold a score of 0% on Rotten Tomatoes.” It has an average of 23 on Metacritic. World’s biggest SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER fan Gene Siskel called it “a typically weak sequel that has no legitimate artistic reason for being.” A 2006 Entertainment Weekly list called it the worst sequel of all time. I actually couldn’t find a positive review, and few that weren’t scathing, seething, disgusted.
But I’m not crazy, the world is crazy, when I tell you I genuinely enjoyed STAYING ALIVE. I’m not trying to be a show off here, I’m just coming to it with vastly different artistic values, I think. I’m not a circa-1983 critic determined to assassinate the exploiters of a sacred text of the ‘70s, or a Razzie voter avenging popular actors for being hunky, or a snarkster eager to snicker at The Worst Sequels of All Time!!! can you believe it!? How did this get made!? I come to it as a fan of Sylvester Stallone who discovered that holy shit, this is the missing link of his directorial work, not just the movie he did between ROCKY III and IV, but the stylistic bridge between them. It’s also very ROCKY-like in its content, with its ham and egger underdog chasing his dreams – a huge plus to me, but used as a criticism in every review I looked at – so it’s clearly very personal to the director. (read the rest of this shit…)