Saturday Night Fever Movie Review

Time and the selectiveness of memory has recorded Saturday Night Fever as a fun romp about disco and little more. Check out the reviews online -- they talk about how great the Bee Gees music is, John Travolta's dance moves, his hairdo, and his Brooklyn swagger. If the plot is mentioned at all, it's the meta-version, about how Travolta's Tony Manero wants to break free of his stifling Brooklyn residence, oppressive family, and blue-collar job -- maybe an escape to the big city across the river?

Little mention is made of the sad and often hopeless tale of Tony's bleak little world, full of fistfights, a tragic semi-suicide/accident, and even the gang rape of his girlfriend by his friends. After all of it, Tony gets his hair coiffed and gets back up on the dance floor, even if he's sporting bruises and bandages across his face.

When Tony's dancing, Saturday Night Fever is a true dance classic that puts its contemporaries to shame. But when the melodrama thickens -- notably during the last 40 or so minutes of the film -- SNF approaches unwatchability, as what ought to be a precious little film starts to take itself way too seriously. It's based on a magazine article about disco, for Pete's sake! How much tragedy can one man handle after midnight?

It's somewhat telling that despite the film's smash success, only Travolta would become a star -- and he was already a star thanks to Welcome Back Kotter. While Fran Drescher has a tiny role, you won't recognize any of the names of Tony's co-stars -- namely because they just weren't that great as actors. Travolta, of course, is fantastic (maybe for the only time in his career). His ad-libbing about his hair alone is enough to merit remembering SNF as a classic.

On the new 25th anniversary DVD, director John Badham provides a smug commentary track largely patting himself on the back over the movie's success. A trio of deleted scenes don't add much, but an excerpt from the VH1 Behind the Music episode on the movie provides some interesting backstory.


csicarly's picture


Having read a book about Johns life, i lovethis film even more. He had just lost the love of his life Diana Hyland to cancer and he still managed to be up beat and sexy in this film, he changed the scriots to how he thought it should be and made it a film to remember. Go on John Travolta......He is simply the best!!!

8 years 6 months ago
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Saturday Night Fever Rating

" Good "

Rating: R, 1977


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