Every now and then… Every so often… The stars align and I come across a movie that may be one of the most important films of our time. If it isn’t necessarily one of “the most important” it certainly is one of the most perfect movies ever made.
Pull up a chair kiddies, and let me tell you the tale of 1984’s dance-ercize epic Heavenly Bodies.
And, besides, summer is coming – it’s time to make sure you got your beach bods ready for the sun and fun of the warmer weather! Heavenly Bodies is about Samantha Blair, played by the incredibly cute and likable Cynthia Dale, who is an aerobics instructor at a Canadian fitness club named, well, Heavenly Bodies. She soon finds herself in the battle of her life as she competes against one of the lead instructors at a mega fitness club chain for a spot on a local television workout show. This brings her face-to-face with big wig bullshit and the only way for her to fight and defeat the evils of capitalism is to dance the fuck out of it.
Yes, you read that right.
This is, seriously, like the Rocky of dance-ercize movies…? Wait… Are there any other movies like this? I mean, there’s the movie Perfect with Jamie Lee Curtis and John Travolta, but I think that is more about the fad of workout clubs and more focused at the behind the scenes shenanigans. Also, Heavenly Bodies came out first. I suspect that there is a whole slew of movies like this that combined the Flashdance craze with the aerobicize thing that came on strong in the 80s. However, if there is a significant catalog of these movies, almost all of them have been forgotten or pushed aside for the much more appreciated beach-boob-and-boner comedies of the same time.
Though, it does not matter because Heavenly Bodies is one of the most perfect films ever made so we don’t need any others. Those others can just fuck off anyway.
The copy of the movie I got played on TCM one night under their “TCM Underground” banner. Turner Classic Movies played Heavenly Bodies on their channel. Then they called it an “Underground” movie. Amazing.
The movie begins with our cutesy heroine Samantha Blair (Cynthia Dale) clock-watching as she finishes up some typing for her boring, bullshit, dipwad 9-5 job. You see, she’s young, and hot and needs to get out and get to Heavenly Bodies where she can dancercize your fucking faces off. All this typing and tapping of her feet are to the movie’s theme song “Breaking Out of Prison” performed by Sparks.
So Sam and her friends rent a warehouse to create their dream – the aforementioned Heavenly Bodies aerobics club. She works hard and gets people aware of her new business. She’s handing out flyers to friends, to co-workers, to people outside the movie theater while she has a moment of metaphysical existential crisis…
Finally, after weeks, months, and years of dreaming, Samantha disrobes slowly and erotically for Geoff while he watches and types obsessively about how amazing this movie is… Er, I mean, Sam and pals are all done with their boring bullshit jobs and Heavenly Bodies is open for all the giggling and bending over and stretching and dancing that I can handle without completely shutting down. After getting a full look at a bunch of babes strutting and working out and sweating all over the place, Heavenly Bodies has caught on a little bit with the local Canadian news. They show up to ask why people have caught on with this new club, and soon discover that Sam is a bit of an inspirational juggernaut for the clientele.
We also find out that Sam is a single mother. Quite frankly, this is something almost impossible to imagine in a 1984 movie. Not a mom who is widowed. She’s someone you might have seen 10, 20, or 30 years later, but not in a time of Reagan’s America where a return to the more innocent days of the 50s was in many people’s minds. Now we have this trollop in a skimpy leotard and moving her body in oh, so sexy ways? AND she has a kid with no man?!? Insane!
Oh, and to top that off, she’s spunky too? And down to Earth? She must be the seed of Satan, she must!
No, for real… While Sam is still in a movie written and directed by men, she’s actually written to be able to handle herself. She’s grounded and serious. When asked what her main ambition is by the news crew covering Heavenly Bodies, it wasn’t to knock the big club in town out of business. It was simply to be able to buy the building they are using so they can grow. She convinces a sports team’s owner to send players to help them get back into shape. When one of the guys, Steve, makes light of her practices, she appropriately puts him in his place. All of this with a smile, some spunk, and a tad bit of flirty friendliness without being a ball-busting jerk.
Guys, I think Samantha Blair is the most perfect woman to ever exist.
In fact, Steve definitely believes she is something quite special. He sends her a cute gorilla gram which is basically just a sweet poem read by a guy in a gorilla costume. In turn, Sam sends Steve a stripper gram. The 80s are amazing. Also, titties… Because even in an honestly innocent romantic lighthearted movie, it is 1984, and that means you gotta have tits.
Eventually, Sam agrees to go out with Steve and, on the same day of that date, she learns that a local television channel is going to hold auditions next week for an aerobics show. To hell with that though, Steve is there for their date, but in an unexpected twist, he’s not taking her out, but cooking for her and her son. Not only that, but Steve turns out to be a complete gentleman who leaves when Sam mentions it is getting late, and even leaves without a kiss without complaint. Except that he doesn’t actually leave. He comes back to tell her he’s never been this nervous around a woman before and he gets his kiss.
You know… Let me go back to them titties from earlier. This is a movie that, as I was kind of eluding to previously, is completely charming and a story about a girl rising up from her own doldrums and mundane life to make something of herself. There is absolutely no reason for this movie to be R rated. At all. In fact, I don’t think there are any cuss words in this entire movie. But tits. There was no need for that other than to give something for the guys who had to take their girlfriends to see this movie to hold onto.
You know, besides all the leotards and hip movements and bonkers insane bodies in this movie.
But I digress. It’s time for Sam to try out for that TV show! With perfect timing, the movie also introduces us to our primary villains right here at the end of the first act. One of the casting guys comes in with Jack Pearson, the head of the big box aerobics club in town and his girlfriend/lead instructor/perfect opposite to Sam, Debbie. The casting guy basically has been bought off like how the Golden Globes once gave an award to Pia Zadora after her husband wined and dined a bunch of the voters. He says Debbie shouldn’t have anything to worry about as far as getting the job.
But goddamn… Sam is there all cute and killin’ it and everything.
The cuts are made and soon it is down to Sam and Debbie. Despite his initial insistence that it be Debbie, the casting guy is overruled by the other casting lady seeing something special in Sam. Debbie is steamed because she is a cunt. Sam is humbled by the opportunity. But what does she have to worry about? Steve is showing up to her classes and being generally awesome. Then they fuck each other with their eyes while working out which is intercut with them actually fucking.
Hot. No, I mean it. Cynthia Dale is not just cute and fun and sassy and pretty. She’s really, really hot in this movie.
That’s the type of lady who would be really sweet and like the perfect daughter-in-law around your mother, and be super awesome around your friends, and constantly give you confidence by just being the best. Then, she’d take you home and do things you didn’t even know was possible without completely and totally breaking your dick off – or possibly exploding her vagina.
But enough about that shit. Everything is totally awesome for Sam. She and Steve are like totes in love and it’s adorbs. Plus, her little boy is all about him too. Guys, that’s super important. If you’re going to date a girl who has kids, it don’t mean shit if she would literally kill for you. If her kid doesn’t like you, you’re totally screwed. Anyway, how awesome is it between Sam and Steve? Well, they go to the park and play football, as you normally do with your lady friends, and sudden dance numbers break out after classes at Heavenly Bodies. Not only that – but she discovers she scored the TV show too.
Upon learning the news she didn’t get the job, Debbie is pissed. Not just normally pissed, but nearly homicidal in her pissitude. First, she nearly doesn’t help Jack pick a heavy dumb bell off his chest, but then she slaps him when she pouts about wanting that TV show.
But fuck Debbie! Sam shows up at the studio where her big break is about to happen. And if you thought a random dance sequence to music I’m not sure is actually playing diegetically wasn’t going to happen again in this movie, it does:
Awesome dance scenes aside, Jack is cooking up a scheme to still get Debbie that TV gig. Jack starts showing up on set and complimenting Sam and flattering her, but not really sticking around. Just being sort of a creep who shows up, says some stuff, and leaves. Steve is also acting a little pouty and dumb too. She catches an early flight home to take Sam out to dinner, but she’s got a party thing for the people who supplies her hot tights and stuff or something.
He then shows up at her house and tells her he is thinking about getting into the restaurant business in a different city and asks her to go with him. Part of her hang ups with past relationships that led to her being a single mom who had to put her dreams on hold was that she gave up her dancing when she met her son’s dad and when he left, she had nothing. So… Yeah, Steve, dick move, bro.
So after another dance scene to music I cannot imagine is playing in the actual scene, Sam’s son says he misses Steve. Sam tries calling him and a woman answers the phone. What does Sam do? Start hanging out with Jack. Debbie catches them kiss in the pool, but doesn’t see Sam push him away and say, “I don’t even think I like you.” Ouch. No matter how often you hear that, it still hurts.
Alright, so here’s the ultimate plan that will help Debbie get her revenge on the lovely Sam. She brings in Walter, the guy who basically owns Jack’s club. He wants to talk to Jack about the members they seem to be losing to Heavenly Bodies. What does he do? Walter buys the building and kicks Heavenly Bodies out. When the old leaser spills the beans that Jack Person’s Sporting Life bought the building, shit hits the fan…
In the best way possible.
Sam, hot as fuck (in every sense of the word), decides to use her TV show to announce a competition between Heavenly Bodies and Jack Pearson. Then, like hotcakes, the whole damn world knows Jack Pearson is an asshole and probably fucks puppies and lets badgers scratch his balls like a fuckhead. Jack is positive the news will never let them live it down. Walter is like, “Well, let’s just give them the lease and be done with it!” because he’s sorry he got involved thanks to that cunt Debbie. Jack suddenly decides to be a total villain and tells Walter and Debbie they have to accept the challenge or look like assholes.
It’s montage city now as we see the loyalists of Heavenly Bodies prep for the competition. There’s a news conference to talk about the competition because sure. You are probably wondering what kind of competition could two aerobics clubs have to settle this pissing match… Naturally, it’s an AEROBICS MARATHON DANCE-OFF BITCHES!
But what’s this? Jack shows up at Sam’s apartment and tries to schmooze her, but when she slaps him, he roids out and throws her into her coffee table like the limp dick jerkoff we all know him to be.
Now with a nasty gash on her leg on the day of the big marathon, our underdog needs to dig deep once again and find the courage to fight back. This is where Heavenly Bodies goes from being just another aerobics movie to being the motherfuckin’ Rocky of aerobics movies.
It’s 12-on-12 for however long it goes until there is only one standing. Here’s the deal – if you fall out of pace or fall, they have ten seconds to get back up and get back on rhythm with the instructors. Oh! And Steve is there now too. Of course he still loves Sam and wants to help her. Also, methinks he’s going to probably punch that fucker Jack Pearson. Somehow there are reports coming in on TV and radio and shit too. Like there are announcers and stuff. I don’t think I’m the only one to ask how the hell, and in what world, would this even be a thing?
Well, simple answer: It’s the 80s, man. It was competitions all over the place and montages for days. C’mon, man, don’t you guys know anything about the 80s?
After, like 7 hours, I’m guessing a lot of people are really pissed off they are involved in this competition. Heavenly Bodies is barely ahead. Just before going back into the dance floor, Sam’s son sees Jack and says that’s the guy who hurt Sam. Steve learns about what happens and beats up Jack and causes both of them to be bounced from the competition. Samantha’s injuries cause her to collapse one more time, but she’s saved by the bell ending hour 8.
It’s time for Sam to have her Rocky Balboa moment. It’s Samantha vs. Debbie. It’s like Ali vs. Foreman. Or Brady and Manning. Andretti and Mears. Taylor Swift vs. Katy Perry. Steve Perry vs… erm… No one. No one can compete against Steve Perry. Fuck it… Watch this shit for yourself and feel that drama!
This is one of those movies that is just absolutely bonkers in all the very best of ways. I mean it. I would watch this shit any day of the week any number of times you want to watch this. I’d like to say it’s for our scrappy underdog or the soundtrack or for the tense drama.
Nah… It’s for dat ass…
Oh, don’t look so surprised…
Whatever… I’m going to go join an aerobics club and try to meet me a Samantha Blair of my own. Until next week, don’t pull any hammies and work on your tan because summer’s coming and you don’t want to look like a gross-o slob like me. I’ll see everyone next week when I take a look at “The Strangest Martial Arts Picture You Will Ever See” with The Dragon Lives Again!