Plot: Craig Blake (Jeff Bridges) has been tasked to acquire a run down old gym, then turn it over to a local businessman. This is all part of a scheme to take over the downtown area, then revitalize it once all the lots have been purchased, in order to monopolize commercial traffic. So Blake heads to the gym to begin his sales pitch, which leads to him meeting the various colorful clients and employees, including the gym’s real star Joe (Arnold Schwarzenegger). Joe is a physical specimen, but he isn’t just a bodybuilder, he’s also a showman and a fiddler. Blake is drawn to Joe and his unique outlook on life and success, while he is also drawn to the gym’s receptionist Mary (Sally Field), though for much different reasons. As a little time passes, Blake finds himself part of the gym’s social circle and in a clearer headspace in the process, making him second guess his life’s direction. But the men who tasked him to acquire the gym aren’t partial to sentiment, so Blake could be in for some serious trouble.
Entertainment Value: This one has it all, a remarkable cast, rampant exercise, plenty of redneck antics, and of course, Arnold in his bluegrass period. Yes, Stay Hungry features a scene where Arnold picks up a fiddle and goes to town, which is reason enough to have this one in your collection. I mean, movies about exercise, bluegrass, and southern fried business aren’t that common, especially with a loaded cast like this one. Jeff Bridges has the lead, with Sally Field, Arnold, R.G. Armstrong, Robert Englund, Roger Mosley, Joanna Cassidy, Scatman Crothers, Ed Begley, Jr., and even Joe Spinell, plus several other folks you’re sure to recognize. That is a stacked lineup of talent, though some have smaller roles, of course. Bridges is quite good here and has great chemistry with his costars, especially Field and Arnold. Field is electric in her role here, a vision of down home beauty and spunk, while Arnold does well as Joe, as he is given a little more to work with than his later action hero roles. I also just love the offbeat vibe of the movie, it never ceases to deliver odd moments and colorful characters, from hoedowns to posedowns and all stops in between. The finale is wild and wonderful as well, set of course to a perky bluegrass soundtrack. The humor is quirky and effective, with some strange and random moments that give the movie a real cult classic kind of vibe. I think fans of offbeat cinema will find a lot to like here, so Stay Hungry earns a very strong recommendation.
A couple of topless girls, but that’s all the nakedness. One of the girls has awkward sex with R.G. Armstrong on a odd, vintage piece of exercise equipment however, which is always fun. And of course, a lot of dudes in speedos. Like a lot. So if you like dudes in speedos, jackpot. No blood. This movie has some mild violence, but nothing graphic and no real bloodshed. A confrontation toward the finale involves some karate action, in a brief but fun sequence. A lot of fun dialogue is present here, which should be no real surprise, given the abundance of colorful characters involved. The lines are spread out well, allowing even smaller roles to shine here and there, with outlandish or awkward dialogue spots. I especially love Sally Field as Mary, as she has so much attitude and is such a memorable character. This one is rich with southern fried dialogue, so fans of hicksploitation will be in heaven here. As for craziness, we have Arnold as a bluegrass enthusiast, hayseed dance parties, a dog that water-skis, exercise overload, colorful characters galore, pocket pool taken to a whole new level, and a bonkers finale to top it all off.
Overall Insanity: 8/10