It's hard to pinpoint exactly when John Travolta stopped doing it for me. I wouldn't peg it during his famously rock bottom years (roughly between 1983's Stayin' Alive and 1994's Pulp Fiction, AKA the Look Who's Talking Years), but rather sometime in the past few decades, when Travolta decided he wanted to stretch himself by going increasingly, well, batshit crazy onscreen.
For the record, I'm no Travolta hater. He's excellent in earlier films, as Danny Zuko in Grease, Tony Manero in Saturday Night Fever (and even in the aforementioned Stayin' Alive), and Bud Davis in Urban Cowboy. The man's proven his talent and shown his range over the years, which is why it's particularly disappointing to see him hamming it up in films like the recent Wild Hogs and Old Dogs, two comedies that both star Travolta, have titles that coincidentally rhyme, and feature grown men getting hit in the crotch in their respective trailers.
But broad and painfully unfunny comedy is only one hallmark of the type of film John Travolta has become known for in recent years. The other is arguably worse: Travolta has somehow become Hollywood's go-to actor for over-the-top bad guy roles. The kind of roles that make you say "WTF?" as you sit in a darkened theater staring at the scenery-chewing, gleefully unpredictable one-man circus on display. The kind that might call for Travolta to shave his head, grow a goatee, shoot first and spout witty one-liners later, have sex with prostitutes, and act like he just does not give a f***, which is exactly what he does in this week's buddy-spy action-comedy, From Paris with Love.
Sadly, Live Wire Travolta no longer feels fresh. And whereas it used to amuse me, I now only feel a faint tingle of something – is it nostalgia? - coupled by an overpowering sense of sadness for what used to be. So take a trip down memory lane with me to explore seven of Travolta's most wacky, wild, and crazy roles and figure out when exactly he went from kooky to creepy.