Two of a Kind

John and Olivia: BETRAYED!
John Herzfeld
John Travolta, The Splendor of Olivia
The Setup: 
John and Olivia reunite after Grease in a joint effort to create the worst film of all time. They come tragically close.

There is only word one that fully does justice to this film: APPALLING.

John and Olivia were BETRAYED! WHY they would choose this movie? Rumor has it that they looked through over 30 scripts before settling on this one! Why they would let this first-time director decimate their careers in this way? It's utterly inexplicable. WHY anyone at any studio would take these two huge stars (though Olivia had been tarnished by Xanadu by this time) and TOSS THEIR CAREERS TO THE WIND on this turkey is… again, inexplicable. Why does this film exist?

The answer lies, I think, in Olivia's ‘rebranding’ effort, trying to shift out of being wholesome and pure and be a bit of a vamp, which in retrospect seems like a big mistake (look what happened to Sheena Easton when she tried the same thing… and look at the continuing debacle that is Britney). This issue is examined in depth in my essay about the second part of Olivia's musical career. Everyone loves Olivia being pure and a bit cheeky. Look how adorable she was in Grease! It is just so incongruous for her to be a bank-robbing shiftless liar that it is impossible to get involved with her character. Okay, that sounds like there is even one ‘character’ in this film, but you know what I mean.

There are several compelling issues raised by this film, such as:

> Why does John Travolta walk like he has a broomstick [etc…. but ALL the way in] the whole movie? > > Did his mother tell him his posture was really bad or something?
> Were general production values REALLY that low back in 1982? No wonder films are so expensive now.
> WHO was the director related to that he was allowed to make this?
> WHY, when Olivia's face is presented in the paper, in a loving 6' X 8' picture identifying her as a wanted bank robber, does she just walk around and attend her acting class as though nothing happened? Why does no one in her acting class mention it? Why don't the police show even the SLIGHTEST interest in apprehending her and recovering the money?
> WHY do songs on the soundtrack blare inappropriately and completely without context throughout?

There are also a few notable moments that must be pointed out:

> Please take note of the first shot of John Travolta in those stupendously ridiculous glasses. And it's only getting better…
> Two words: ‘I'm Single.’
> Please note how someone offscreen obviously CHUCKS the live cat at the pots in the kitchen! This would not be allowed these days!
> You will obviously note that ethnic diversity is being DEPLOYED in the group of angels… though it doesn't seem to prevent them from making the black man a bus driver!
> Please admire the architectural splendor of Olivia's hair, and her multitude of 80's fashion debacles, including the green ensemble with big gold pirate belt and turned-down suede boots (as they're walking down the street, soon before sampling the edible sunglasses).
> Note that John is drinking Red and Olivia is drinking White, obviously because the producers thought this would appear ‘sophisticated.’
> Of course there's the `Twist of Fate' MONTAGE, where Olivia gets to sport the appalling sunglasses after having eaten another pair.
> Olivia's songs here definitely (and painfully) lack the John Farrar touch (who had composed all of her hits heretofore) and it's obvious where the problem lies.

Alas, what more can be said? Oh, I know… it was only on second viewing that I noticed that John and Olivia actually DIED a third of the way through the film (because John fell on Olivia from a great height, naturally), but were brought back to life by the angels to… continue the film. Now isn't it kind of sad that a film—ANY film—can be so poorly directed that the main characters can DIE and you don't even notice?

Now if you don't want to watch it after reading this, I don't know what's wrong with you.

Should you watch it: 

FUCK YEAH! Gather some friends and some booze! Woooo!


GREASE finds John and Olivia during happier days, in a more successful movie.
XANADU is a MUST and finds Olivia reigning supreme from atop her mighty mountain of Olivianess!
Olivia: All Sexed-Up with Nowhere to Go [But Down] is my review of the Olivia Video Collection Volume II, which serves as a case study in Olivia trying to sex up her image and ruining her career in the process.