Lists, Top 10 Movies, Top 10 Performances, Top 10s — April 18, 2012 at 3:05 am



John Travolta has exemplified a very impressive career, one that some people felt was resurrected by his role as Vincent Vega in Pulp Fiction.  There isn’t much debate about some of his more questionable 80’s flicks (Two Of A Kind-but I still liked it!), but for me it’s been the past few decades where I find his filmatic choices much more random.  For every bad film listed here I could easily counter with one or two good ones, but these still exist.  We get on Nic Cage, Sam Jackson, and Chris Walken for being the yes men of Hollywood, but they aren’t the only ones.  Here are my ten least favorite John Travolta movies.  Note that I’ve excluded Face/Off which many who’ve read Movie Mobsters or listened to the MILFcast know I cannot stand and therefore my lack of appreciation for these should reign fairly poignantly with you.


This is fairly a debatable option on this list, but I find the disappointment of what could have been such an enjoyable flick with so many charismatic likable guys absolutely drowned under its weight and perhaps expectations.

Positive Alternate Option: A Civil Action-A great crime thriller where Travolta isn’t over the top but is the vessel for an excellent story.


Boring, boring, boring.  Snooze.  I found it annoying, patronizing, and without any redeeming entertaining qualities. And for good measure let’s throw Travolta in there dancing again.  Pfft.

Positive Alternate Option: Phenomenon-A film that came out the same year that featured a normal man with sudden powers.


There is absolutely no redeeming quality about this awful film.  Travolta is bland in it, Vince Vaughn can act outside of his comedic comfort zone but is so melodramatic it turns into a comedic performance.  Most importantly it really doesn’t do the topic at hand.

Positive Alternate Option: Basic-a compelling military flick directed by John McTiernan that came out only a year later.


The original had its cuteness and likability but the subsequent sequels were over the top, ridiculous, and absolutely obnoxious.  These sequels are what I think a lot of people saw as Travolta’s career circling the drain until Pulp Fiction came around.

Positive Alternate Option: Pulp Fiction-The grace that saved Travolta from sequel hell.


Perfect still seems a desperate attempt to keep alive the idea of Travolta as a sex symbol and the lead man of Grease and SNF that could dance, sing, and get the hottest girl.  Jamie Lee Curtis was hot it this film but it was utterly ridiculous.

Positive Alternate Option: Grease-where he’s sexy, sings, dances, and in a story that is painful to watch.


Over the top, utter nonsense, trying to capitalize on everything that was smooth and great about Saturday Night Fever.  We all love to watch Travolta dance, but I’d rather wait for quality than quantity.

Positive Alternate Option: See the original.  Saturday Night Fever is everything that Staying Alive isn’t.


One of the few films that I couldn’t stomach finishing.  I realize this is actually a fan favorite in some capacities and may have sported a few smooth moments, but the movie itself was obnoxious, boring, and over the top, with no swagger of its own to compensate for its lack of ingenuity.  No affection for Thomas Jane or Travolta could sway me on this one.

Positive Alternate Option: Swordfish


I looooooooooooooooathe Broken Arrow.  It’s utterly ridiculous.  Christian Slater is at his worst and he’s coupled by Travolta at his worst.  I’m all for an over the top action flick without realism attached to it, but even I couldn’t stomach what they were selling me.

Positive Alternate Option:  The Boy In The Plastic Bubble-because it’s even better than this awful film.


I feel it’s almost unnecessary to rip this film to shreds as its already been destroyed by critics and movie fans alike, but it really is utter poop.  The kind of poop you take a photo of in the toilet and send it to people in your phone that you don’t really like.

Positive Alternate Option:  Any movie is an improvement over this but I recommend Urban Cowboy, so you can remember how damn good Travolta actually is.


This has to sit as number one on my list because of how great Get Shorty was.  The anticipation that built up to this was utter insanity to me, but the mere fact that they made it a PG-13 flick instead of “R” was enough of an insult to Elmore Leonard’s fantastic novel.

Positive Alternative Option: -the original and the genius of violence and humor.


  • Wow. GOD he’s been in some bad movies!!

    Eesh. I’ve blocked half of these out of my memory!

  • My loathing for Wild Hogs goes deeper than most films on this list as I know more than what I would deem healthy over 45s who try to recapture their youth week in and week out by going riding on their bikes. Pile that on top of the fact that they quote scenes in the movie as if it’s the gospel upon which their lives ought be based, and you’ve got one not very amused Uni.

    I’ve seen The Punisher a couple of times and each time it leaves the same impression: There’s a couple moments of real quality, but on the whole nobody seems sure what they’re going to do with the rest of it.

    • UNIVARN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      It’s interesting to see someone with that much disdain for Wild Hogs. There were a few I considered putting in the ten spot instead. I’m glad I left it there!

    • i thought some of these movies were great like punisher n broken arrow a few others as well. battlefield earth… yes complete garbage but hey every good actor has a few crap films. i personally dont care for grease travolta a sex symbol? too funny stick to action films travolta thats your strong-point. about critisizing the punisher… you guys are crazy!

  • I loved this piece. It must have been really hard to narrow this down to only ten movies. I would also include Old Dogs.

    • There were four or five others that could have easily made the list. I tried not to make it entirely negative by giving the positive options but it was surprising to see how many negative there were to balance the good out.

  • Whew. I was worried Face/Off would be on here, which would make me angry.

    You know Travolta’s been in some bad movies when you don’t have to include The General’s Daughter, White Man’s Burden, and Old Dogs and still have a good list.

    I’d never even heard of Perfect. That poster looks ridiculous!

    • I know Face/Off is a huge fan favorite and while I personally don’t enjoy it, it does have some redeeming qualities, and the performances themselves are enigmatic enough to be forgiving of some of it’s obnoxious story telling techniques.

      I actually enjoyed The General’s Daughter, but only had one viewing over ten years ago so it isn’t so fresh in mind.

  • ugh…hard list! I might even throw in The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3…it just seems like the same Vincent Vega rip off character that he does in SO many movies…even Swordfish borders on this character, but for some reason that movie is a little more watchable for me…I actually really loathe the Vincent Vega character…his accent is TERRIBLE!!…I’m sure I will be assaulted…Pelham also has the denzel/scott thing goin on…and we all know denzel, scott and trains do NOT mix!!!

    • I should make a list about movies where Denzel is on a train at some point. I think I could do a top five or maybe even swing a top ten.

      I’m not a big fan of Swordfish, and then ending is so over the top it’s too much even for me but it is a fan favorite and definitely has some entertainment quality that I won’t complain about. Putting Hugh Jackman in anything certainly makes me happier.

  • Did you really mean to say that “Grease” is painful to watch? I hope not! ::Starts handjiving::

    I have to confess a love of “Broken Arrow.” Of course, I know it’s horrible, but I just love me some Christian Slater trying to be an action hero, and Travolta was so bad it was campy.

    • I adore Grease. I’m admittedly burnt out on it. I watched it so much as a kid before it grew this new second life in the late 90’s. When it took that on and over saturated the universe I really had to take a step back and not watch it for awhile. I think it’ll be a few more years before I can properly enjoy it again.

      My boyfriend loves Broken Arrow too. I guess I can see liking for being so bad and the Slater aspect (I heart him) but I cannot get over my initial reaction to it which is obviously negative.

      Can’t wait for the podcast Saturday Joanna!

  • What the hell? Where is “Old Dogs”? That was worse than “Wild Hogs”. I would also put in “Eyes of An Angel”, “Austin Powers in Goldmember” (cameo), and “Basic” (with one of the worst twist endings ever).

    I would mention “A Love Song for Bobby Long” only because his performance was him trying to be Marlon Brando in a very bad way.

    • Steven, I worked as a boom operator on Eyes of An Angel, and felt it was such a downer of a movie. Even had an ending that was far from ‘Heroes walk off into the Sunset’. Only looked at this article to see if it was on the list. Didn’t know Travolta had done so many other films. You must be a real fan!

  • I disagree with the inclusion of Be Cool (hey, I like it!–and the meta joke about the f word and the PG13 rating). But otherwise, nice list!

  • Fortunately I’ve sat through hardly any of these. I got to admit I loved Broken Arrow. Travolta is OTT, I think about six helicopters explode and a nuke goes off underground. I had a bit of a thing for John Woo films around this time. I’m pretty sure this was soon after Hard Target which I also loved!

  • I’m so awesome, I’ve only seen two of these – maybe a third, but I really don’t remember if I ever saw Look Who’s Talking Too. Though, as a fellow Get Shorty lover, I’ve felt the need to watch Be Cool (yet still not done it) over the years. I think I’m gonna read the book first, so that the movie ends up looking even crappier.

    I kinda dig The General’s Daughter, though it might just be because I developed a major crush on the actress that played the titular character.

    I remember mildly liking Michael. Nothing great, but I’m sure there are far worse films that could be in its place…like Shirley’s Pelham 123 suggestion. That thing sucked.

  • How did “TWO OF A KIND” Not make the list? I mean it’s JUST as bad as Staying Alive. Has the same qualities as a lot of what you added (Stars Olivia Newton John (trying to capture lighting again between the two), terrible acting, and incredibly whacked premise. ) How does that NOT make the list. You should make an honorable mention with Grease being the positive.

  • Some of these I actually liked. Like Domestic Disturbance, Broken Arrow, and The Punisher. But the rest of them I have to agree with you on. Especially Battlefield Earth and Michael.

  • best regards in your,stephanie curry.

  • John I just want to say that I’ve watched you since you first came out on Welcome Back Kotter.To me your the best actor I’ve seeing and your wife is a beatiful women keep up the great movies.Always Terri

  • I (totally) agree with your list. In my mind, I considered a pretty decent actor, but reviewing your list make me laugh out… So many ups and downs ( I guess more downs). Still, I enjoyed him in Broken Arrow, where I believed is the only interesting and real character: the mad joker 🙂 Additional to your list, we must include: Chains of gold and Devil’ Rain.

  • I agree with Michael very boring and the Punisher which JT truly disturbed me with his cruelty. How is Battlefield Earth not number 1? The only movie he’s made I just couldn’t sit through. Been a fan since I was 2 and now 41

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