Boy, have I just seen a real winner today. This movie clearly belongs in the Hall of Fame of Bad Movies right along with the Twilight movies, Norbit, and Garbage Pail Kids among others. However, the only difference between those movies and the movie I’m reviewing today is that this movie is not presently out on DVD. Hell, it never even got a video release, probably because Universal, the studio that distributed this thing even though it shouldn’t have been greenlit in the first place, was so ashamed by it that they wanted to just banish it from existence. That’s how bad it was. However not quite as bad as what Universal churns out in theaters these days.
In fact, the only way to see this movie is on cable (if you’re lucky that is) where it is viewed every so often or if someone uploaded it to YouTube, which someone did but I won’t name names.
And to think that this movie was released on the heels of two iconic John Travolta movies: Saturday Night Fever and Grease. He was a big star on top of the world and could have any movie he wanted. Unfortunately, I don’t know if he was convinced to do this by producer Robert Stigwood (who produced both of Travolta’s big blockbusters) or as part of an expressed desire to do a movie with comedian Lily Tomlin, who at the time was also on a career high thanks to her Oscar win for the movie Nashville. I’m guessing that Lily decided to do this movie because her real-life lesbian lover/manager Jane Wagner directed and wrote this movie. And according to IMDB, this was the only movie she directed.
And another thing of note about this movie is that the hit show Mystery Science Theater 3000 tried to obtain the rights to this movie so they can riff on it and were denied. That was a big blunder on Hollywood’s part because this movie clearly deserves to be riffed on. However, the Cinema Snob recently reviewed this movie and I think that it’s about as close to a riff as you’re going to get.
Even though this movie is not available on video, you can’t deny that this movie exists. And since I’m reviewing it today, neither can I. So ladies and gentlemen, here is the infamous John Travolta romantic movie that Hollywood does not want you to see: Moment by Moment.
The movie opens with Trisha (played by Lily Tomlin), a bored 40-something woman who is going through a messy divorce, walking through Beverly Hills looking to refill her sleeping pill medication. So that pretty much explains why she looks so doped up and in a daze throughout the movie. I mean, her character is about as personality-challenged as Kristen Stewart. While out and about, she meets John Travolta’s character who is named Strip. Really? REALLY?! Strip who is in his twenties (Travolta was 24 at the time of this movie) is a drifter who has a bit of a shady lonely past and even shadier friends to boot. When we first meet him, Strip has the makings of a perfectly good stalker: Not leaving Trisha alone, talking endlessly even though Trisha’s looking at you as though she’s ready to call the cops at the drop of a hat. And Strip is like that for the first 30 minutes. In fact, his shtick is so annoying that a nice guy who can’t get a woman will somehow find this movie and watch what Strip is doing and then think to himself, “Oh, wow. Am I really like that? No wonder I can’t get laid.”
However, after at least 30 minutes of Strip’s annoying friendliness, Trisha finally starts warming up to him despite the fact that she’s still got the issues, most notably trust issues which is understandable because her husband cheated on her, not to mention personality issues. However despite all that, she becomes sexually attracted to the much younger Strip and before you know it, they start doing it. And for the record, I just have to say that Lily Tomlin should not be allowed to do movies that require her to do love scenes. Ever. And she and Travolta have absolutely no chemistry at all, both in and out of the sack. Not to mention that they actually look too much alike, but that’s kind of a moot point.
And shortly after they hook up, all the drama bullshit happens. Strip becomes like a puppy dog acting all needy and looking for validation because he never got that from his family and when she doesn’t say the three magic words, he departs in a huff. In fact he does that frequently for most of the remainder of this movie. He leaves when Trisha won’t reveal to her upper-class friends that she and Strip are in a relationship. And of course, there’s also the whole May-December relationship thing that threatens to tear them apart. And there is a mob subplot thrown in (Strip sees a mob boss at an art show he goes to with Trisha and he’s upset that the mob boss is one of her big society friends.) But like everything else in this movie, it doesn’t go anywhere.
So you would think that with all this thrown at our couple that they would just break up. But you know this is a love story which more often than not tend to have happy endings. Although they may just as well have been better off breaking up because there’s no chemistry.
As far as performances go, the supporting cast aren’t really familiar names and they’re not really in the movie long enough for us to care about them too much. So the only performances I can judge are Travolta and Tomlin. Like I said before, Tomlin has absolutely no business being in a romantic movie. She isn’t romantic enough. Plus it doesn’t look like she was even trying to give a good performance. It was like she was just going through the motions.
As far as John Travolta goes, at least he put in an honest effort. He comes off as playing a character who is a beta male trapped in an alpha male body. He starts out annoying and creepy before veering off into needy and desperate territory, displaying the type of attitude that would normally get a person dumped into the friend zone. At least for his credit he did look good. He’s frequently shirtless throughout the movie and back then he could easily pull it off. Now, well… not so much. Back then a man could have hair on his chest whereas now women expect their men to look like they do on Jersey Shore (no hair on your body at all.)
But personally, I think this whole movie should be thrown in the friend zone. At least with a movie like The Room (directed by Tommy Wiseau) it may have sucked, but at least it was funny because it reveled in its badness. This movie is just boring as hell with dialogue that will make you facepalm. I mean using pick-up lines like “Are you part of the Auto Club?” Really? That’s the best that you can come up with? THIS MOVIE SUCKS! But since this movie does not have a video release and it is very rarely seen, I’m not going to nuke it into Bad Movie Hell. Instead of letting this movie fade into oblivion, this movie should be studied and held up as an example of how not to make a romantic movie.
In fact, I’m gonna go as far as to offer Universal a challenge and I do suggest they accept it. Next year, instead of releasing Fifty Shades Freed (just say you’re going to release Fifty Shades Freed) you re-release this movie to theaters instead so that way, this movie can finally get a DVD release and we can finally learn how this movie came to be. In all fairness, I would think this movie would be better received if it were released now than it was back in ’78.