Time will tell where From Paris with Love and Travolta's other recent over-the thriller The Taking of Pelham 123 rank in his body of work, but the man has already made his fair share of great projects and outright stinkers. Here we present seven legitimate Travolta classics, alongside seven more that are the cinematic yang to his yin...
By Chuck Walton
Greatest: Grease (1978)
Grease is the word. It's the most popular movie musical of all time for an understandable reason. The '50s via '70s singalong adventures of good girl Sandy and greaser bad boy Danny are the definition of movie fun. Whoever decided to cast Travolta opposite singing sensation Olivia Newton-John deserves a medal...
Lamest: Two of a Kind (1983)
...and whoever decided to recast the duo for this piece deserves to be stoned. The plot has Travolta playing a wayward inventor who, along with sketchy banker Newton-John, can save the earth from God's destruction only by cleaning up their criminally-inclined ways. For all of its inherent genius, Two of a Kind was properly awarded 5 Razzie nominations, including Worst Actor, Worst Actress and Worst Picture.
Greatest: Get Shorty (1995)
Fresh off Pulp Fiction, Travolta made it two memorable gangsters in a row with his turn as Miami mobster turned Hollywood mogul Chili Palmer. Everything here works - from Elmore Leonard's source material to Barry Sonnenfeld's fine direction to an A-list supporting cast including Gene Hackman, Renee Russo and the always-outstanding Dennis Farina as Chili's nemesis, Ray 'Bones' Barboni.
Lamest: Be Cool (2005)
While not the lamest Travolta movie on the list, Be Cool was still a major let-down as the follow-up to Get Shorty. The skewering of the music biz (Chili Palmer's new industry fascination) is a little tepid, and while we're always game to see Travolta square off on the dance floor, we're not sure it should be the lone highlight of the movie. We'll take it, and then we'll re-rent Get Shorty.
Greatest: Face/Off (1997)
John Travolta and Nicolas Cage swap identies and faces-literally-in one of John Woo's best American action films. Both lead actors get to play the extremes of a somber government agent and an out-of-his-gord criminal, while Woo adds all of his trademark touches: slow-mo gun battles, choreographed fight scenes, doves appearing out of nowhere, ya know, the usual.
Lamest: Battlefield Earth (2000)
One of the worst movies ever made, this Travolta vanity project has something to do with alien 'Psychlos' and the human goldminers who dare to defy them. Basically, it's just a mega-budgeted excuse to laugh at how ridiculous Travolta and future Oscar winner Forest Whitaker look and sound as the aliens' devious sheriff and deputy on planet earth...nice dreads, guys.
Greatest: Saturday Night Fever (1977)
In the year 1977, a star was born. He wore a white polyeser suit, a black silk shirt, and Italian shoes. And he could light up the dance floor like no other. When he pointed skyward, it was a symbol for an entire generation, and generations to come, to raise their arms in unison, look up at that glittering ball, and get their DISCO on. Awesome.
Lamest: Staying Alive (1983)
Unfortunately, the '80s weren't as lucky as the '70s, and all that made Saturday Night Fever a genuine pleasure turned into some sort of ghastly, semi-aerobicized, head-band sporting monstrosity called Staying Alive. Dubbed by Entertaintmet Weekly as the "Worst Sequel Ever," it finds our hero Tony Manero fighting for a spot in some weird Broadway show called Satan's Alley. Um, ok.
Greatest: Blowout (1981)
If you really want to see a great movie starring John Travolta, then check out Brian DePalma's Blowout, a first-rate thriller about a sound technician who inadvertently records audio tied to a political assassination. Not exactly a box office hit when released, this low-budget winner has deservedly achieved top cult status amongst cinephiles and movie buffs.
Lamest: Perfect (1985)
Just as unsuccessful at the box office, although justifiably so this time, was this turkey featuring Travolta as a Rolling Stone reporter assigned to write a story on L.A.'s hugely popular fitness aerobics scene, and find out what makes it tick. Only in the '80s could such a premise actually exist, and yes, it's as bad as it sounds.
Greatest: Primary Colors (1998)
Primary Colors, one of 1998's best and underrated films, features Travolta in fine form as Arkansas governor and presidential hopeful Jack Stanton. While his Bill Clinton mannerisms are spot-on, Travolta also manages to creates his own lived-in presence.
Lamest: Look Who's Talking Now (1993)
Look Who's Talking-the baby-as-narrator b.o. hit-was a cute enough re-introduction to Travolta's charms, but by the third installment, when the dogs started talking, well...it's safe to say that Quentin Tarantino arrived in Travolta's life in the nick of time...
Greatest: Pulp Fiction (1994)
There are many pretenders, but there is still only one original. Pulp Fiction revolutionized the industry, made Tarantino a household name, and catapulted Travolta-as hitman Vincent Vega-back to his throne of cool. We'll take his royale with cheese any day.
Lamest: The Experts (1989)
In case you're wondering about Travolta's nadir of uncool, here it is, served up Soviet bloc style with John Travolta as an impresario transported to the U.S.S.R. to teach the Russians how to be "hip" and "American." We're not sure how hip it is-ok, it isn't-but we do get a kick out of Travolta's truly horrifying reminder of how to wear an '80s mullet.
Did we miss any? Leave a comment below and let us know!