When I first saw Dirty Dancing years ago, I was stunned by how much of it I recognized from my past and how true it rang for me. Nobody except John Sayles (and later the authors of Good Will Hunting) had ever brought a time and a place so familiar to me so alive on the screen before. It was all there - the Ivy league protocol and manners (I went to Cornell, like Neil), the resort's silly entertainment, the lodge and cabins, the Houseman's table manners - everything was just as I remembered, INCLUDING the presence of other people that we werent really "suppose" to associate with as much. At least not invite them to dinner anyway, unless they were perhaps courageous bums like Jack Dawson in Titanic, or maybe....just maybe......handsome and talented dancers?
Anyway, but thats just the set up. Author Eleanor Bergstein knew the era well and depicted it with stunning accuracy and brutal honesty. But the real story is about dancing and the sexual awakening of an innocent young girl, Baby Houseman. In that role, Jennifer Grey was perfect, and the transformation she undergoes throughout the film never strains credibility nor seems contrived or forced. Not an easy feat considering how much she was intent on growing up that summer.
Other cast members contributed mightily to this classic. Baby's parents projected just the right mix of parental authority and love for their daughter, an essential ingredient throughout. Meanwhile, well educated Neil and Robbie were superb as the cocky nerd and womanizing cad, especially when contrasted with Johnny. And I especially loved Baby's relationship with Penny and how Penny ultimately came to respect her after treating her like trash in the beginning. Last but not least, Patrick Swayze was magnanimous - combining raw power and sexuality with vulnerability and a soft heart, I couldn't imagine the movie without him.
Finally, the music and dance was absolutely essential to the success of this film. The dance needed to be sexualized as it was important to the plot, but it never crossed the line into bad taste or vulgarity. The musical choices were all superb, and the closing dance scene is one of Hollywoods most memorable. All in all, I never stop enjoying this movie, and expect to see it again and again periodically for the nostalia and memories it never fails to conjure up.
Action / Drama / Music / Romance
Action / Drama / Music / Romance
In 1963, Frances "Baby" Houseman, a sweet daddy's girl, goes with her family to a resort in upstate New York's Catskill Mountains. Baby has grown up in privileged surroundings and all expect her to go on to college, join the Peace Corps and save the world before marrying a doctor, just like her father. Unexpectedly, Baby becomes infatuated with the camp's dance instructor, Johnny Castle, a man whose background is vastly different from her own. Baby lies to her father to get money to pay for an illegal abortion for Johnny's dance partner. She then fills in as Johnny's dance partner and it is as he is teaching her the dance routine that they fall in love. It all comes apart when Johnny's friend falls seriously ill after her abortion and Baby gets her father, who saves the girl's life. He then learns what Baby has been up to, who with and worse, that he funded the illegal abortion. He bans his daughter from any further association with "those people". In the first deliberately willful ...
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November 28, 2012 at 04:26 PM