I just saw SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER. It’s considered a classic that people watch and re-watch but it never made it onto my screen until recently. As someone who judges a movie on how she feels walking out of the theatre (or, in this case, turning off the DVD player), this wasn’t a winner. From the way people talk about it, I expected a very different movie. Instead, I was coated with a sheen of distaste nearly the entire time because of the (spoilers!) racist commentary, the group rape and a young man’s fall to his death.
By the time the movie ended, I didn’t remember the famous disco dance sequence, the scene with Tony (John Travolta) getting ready for a night on the town (including a hysterical shot of him from the crotch upwards), or references from A NIGHT AT THE ROXBURY that I finally understood. Instead, I felt like I had been the victim of a bait-and-switch. Where was my comedy? Where was the movie that was supposed to make me want to get up and dance?
It was disappointing, to say the least.
…And then I started watching a Vh1 SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER special that was included as an “extra” on the DVD.
Although I didn’t find Tony lovable, I understand now how he could be representative of what was going on during that era and how this movie encapsulates what was happening. Racism was overt and young guys lived for the evenings when they could go dancing (some still do). The Vh1 special described how John Travolta did an excellent job in the role because he made a distasteful character sympathetic at the same time.
For me, that was a bit of a stretch. Generally sympathetic, no. Some sympathy, yes. Even as an only child, I could understand his distress at feeling like his parents loved his brother more and that he was the failure. I could understand he wanted something more than the life his parents had and longing to get there—where ever “there” might be.
While I can’t say the movie is one of my favorites, I can say that I appreciate it more than I did before. (It’s amazing how a DVD “Extra” will do that!)
You know what else I appreciate more as well? A NIGHT AT THE ROXBURY, one of the best movies of all time. I had no idea that so many scenes from ROXBURY paid homage to SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER, like the Butabi brothers (Chris Kattan and Will Ferrell) strutting down the street and the brothers getting ready for a night at a club. (Unfortunately, no great crotch shots but lots of primping in front of the mirror.)
I have a feeling that I’ll start recognizing a lot more references that should be attributed to SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER now—and I might have to ask you to watch the hair in the meantime.*
*If you don’t get this, then I’m not the only one who took this long to see SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER.