Dirty Dancing (1987)

dirty dancing


Nobody puts this movie in a corner. Especially not Ben, who apparently has never seen Dirty Dancing before (!?), and judging by the looks on his face is not really into it. Clearly there is something wrong with him.

I suppose this makes sense to some degree. Girls can like “boy” movies (my sister and I were Star Wars fans from the age of 8 and nobody batted an eyelash), but boys can’t like “girl” movies. I’m sure a lot of men have only watched this movie because their girlfriend or wife wanted to, and up until this point I haven’t forced Ben to watch it. This is mostly because we didn’t own it, and to be honest, it was never my favorite 80s movie. I’m more of a Back to the Future kind of person, but Dirty Dancing definitely has its charms.

Obviously the main draws here are the dancing and the music. Surprisingly much of the dancing is pretty chaste, but it was originally marketed to teens. There’s only so much sexy grinding you can show 13 year olds before their parents start to object. Still, the final dance scene is one of the most iconic in movie history, and the early scene of Johnny giving Baby an impromptu lesson in dirty dancing at a party is still hysterical. Of course almost all of the credit here goes to Patrick Swayze. Jennifer Grey is good, but she’s not the pro Swayze was on the dance floor.

The music is a nice blend of 60s and 80s pop. Personally I could do without most of the 80s songs as they’re often distracting given the 1963 setting. The 60s classics overshadow even “(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life” for me, though I fully admit that I wish I could dance well enough to recreate that final dance number. Still, when I think Dirty Dancing I immediately go to The Ronettes and The Five Satins.

The story… OK, I kind of get why Ben’s laughing so much. It’s a typical bad-boy-woos-rich-girl story, set at a family resort in the Catskills. Jennifer Grey plays Frances “Baby” Houseman, a 17 year old who is about to have the time of her life with dancer Johnny Castle (Swayze), right under her daddy’s nose (Jerry Orbach, who was great in everything). The main issue with this is that Grey can pass for 20 at the youngest, and Swayze looks at least 35. Of course Baby’s dad doesn’t want them hanging out (that, and Castle sleeps with Baby). The storyline is mostly the fluff of romantic chick flicks, but it’s entertaining.

At the very least Ben now gets the reference when I describe an awkward situation as “I carried a watermelon.”

Rating: B+

I had never seen this movie before a few days ago. I didn’t really know what to expect, I’d always assumed it was a lame chick flick that would not hold my interest. When this movie turned out to be not awful, I was very surprised. Patrick Swayze is a confident and handsome leading man, who also has some pretty sick dance moves, and Jennifer Grey plays her role of naïve rich girl well. The actors are not as important as the dance moves though. I’m not watching a movie called Dirty Dancing for anything more than great dance sequences and a killer soundtrack, this film delivers on both. I really loved the soundtrack; Dirty Dancing is set during the 60s and the soundtrack contained some of the best 60s rock, as well as some great 80s music too.

The film follows Francis ‘Baby’ Houseman (Grey). She and her family are spending the summer at a holiday camp. This is apparently something rich people do in order to socialise with each other and introduce their offspring to prospective suitors. There is also a group of dance instructors who teach the rich campers how to waltz. The head trainer is Johnny Castle (Swayze) and every night he leads an underground dance party while the rich guests are asleep. Baby is introduced to this world of sexy dancing and becomes infatuated with it, and also develops a huge crush on Johnny. The film revolves around their relationship, as Baby gets taught how to dance by Johnny when she agrees to replace his partner (Cynthia Rhodes, who is currently married to Richard Marx) when she becomes pregnant. Baby must keep her relationship with Johnny secret because she knows her father (Lumiere the candlestick) will not approve.

This film delivers what it promises, and not much more. Swayze is a great leading man, and also has a decent singing voice (he released the single ‘She’s Like the Wind’ on the Dirty Dancing soundtrack). He has some awesome dance moves and shows them off regularly. Jennifer Grey is good as Baby, I was really surprised to learn Grey was nearly 30 when she filmed this. In the movie, Baby is meant to be 16, but Grey still looks young enough to play the part. It is only obvious she is well into her twenties when they do some close ups on her face. Other than that, she plays the role of naïve teenager well.

Rating: C+

2 thoughts on “Dirty Dancing (1987)

  1. Pingback: Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982) | From The Abyss to Zoolander

  2. Pingback: Highlander (1986) | From The Abyss to Zoolander

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