Articles



<div style="float:left">
<script type="text/javascript"><!--
google_ad_client = "pub-9764823118029583";
/* 125x125, created 12/10/07 */
google_ad_slot = "8167036710";
google_ad_width = 125;
google_ad_height = 125;
//-->
</script>
<script type="text/javascript"
src="http://pagead2.googlesyndication.com/pagead/show_ads.js">
</script></div>{/googleAds}When thinking of break out hits/icons - films that transcend simple financial success, gender, age, nationality, and enter the public consciousness - most think of films like Star Wars, The Matrix, and Silence of the Lambs when asked to give an example. Almost never is a bona-fide ‘chick-flick' included in this list on first thought. But every so often it happens. In the 80's a little 4 million dollar picture with an unknown cast cemented itself into the world's memory with a just under $214,000,000 worldwide box office run, the line: â"Nobody puts Baby in a corner," a catchy soundtrack, and a solid story, and defined itself as part of 80's pop-culture...

Dirty Dancing is a film that is easily forgotten in this context... and undeservedly so. Most women adore this film (must be a XX chromosome thing) and a lot of men roll their eyes and try to go to sleep on the couch or escape - as their better-half dabs their eyes, tap their toes, and are periodically glued to the screen for its duration. But no one - whether you love or hate this movie - can deny its success, or the imprint it left way back in 1987.

Based loosely on writer Eleanor Bergstein's life, as a sort of wish-fulfilment to see a movie about dancing, the film found a rocky and uninterested road to being made. Eventually the now-defunct Vestron Pictures took a gamble, and Emile Ardolino (of the equally successful Sister Act, and the not-so-successful Three Men and a Little Lady before his untimely death) was chosen to direct.

Set in 1963, Dirty Dancing tells the story of perpetual do-gooder Frances ‘Baby' Houseman (Jennifer Grey), who, during a family vacation, takes every movie teenaged girl's right of passage into womanhood by having a romance with the resort's dance instructor/‘born on the wrong side of the tracks' Johnny Castle (Patrick Swayze).

The film on its surface is a by-the-numbers girl becomes woman story. The filmmakers never stray from a ‘stick with the basics' formula or execution, and it is that decision that allows the real passion of Dirty Dancing's creators DANCING - to shine and push this film way above the pack. All involved, from the director to the producer and actors down, have an obvious love of this art form, and with that much passion poured in it's hardly surprising the effect is infectious.

Patrick Swayze gives all he has in the role of Johnny Castle, and serves his purpose in the story well. When watching the man dance it's impossible to deny he's at home and a natural. His acting, on the other hand, is inconsistent, feeling especially forced when he tries to bring his character's ‘Philly" accent to the fore in moments of recollection, and often letting his true southern twang peep through. Nevertheless, he is charismatic, handsome, and effective as a man downtrodden trying to stand up and be counted. It is little wonder he became such a big star, and went on to a much better performance in Ghost.

But it is Jennifer Grey's performance that is the true anchor of the film, and the reason it succeeded. With a character like ‘Baby' always wanting to help and do the right thing - it would have been very easy to make her too sweet, and give the audience a toothache. But Grey's instincts are extraordinary she plays the character naturally, never begging the audience to pity her, or agree with her, and at no time does her character fall into the all-to-common pitfall of do-gooder characters and come across as preachy.

The rest of the cast fill the backdrop well, including Jerry Orbach (Law and Order). There are moments of trying-too-hard acting, and clumsy exposition (Robbie the slick pre-med - giving himself up as the guy who knocked up Penny: C'mon!), but they hardly detract from the film as a whole. Two actors who make their limited screen time stand out are Lonny Price and Jane Brucker, playing the immodest, condescending Neil and Baby's humorously untalented sister Lisa respectively.

A very successful soundtrack was spawned from this film, and is a prominent reason this film has such instant recognition, even after twenty years. However, the fact this is a period film (set in 1963) and is infused throughout, not just with songs from the era, but with obvious 80's songs (including one from Swayze) never totally sits seamlessly within the film's tapestry. It is testament to Ardolino's direction and his two leads that this never becomes a jarring problem, as you are so swept up in the romance you don't care that there are (in places) electronic backgrounds, and 80's sexy saxophones, playing over a young couple in love in the supposed 1960's. The songs catchy and appropriate for any love story - are more a reflection of the time the film was made, than to the film itself.

Time has rapidly sped by, and Dirty Dancing celebrates its 20th anniversary this year. It remains one of the most popular films to watch for women (is often referred to as the ‘Star Wars for girls') and has earned its place in film history as a unique, solid, effective love story.


DVD

DVD Details:

For all you Dirty Dancing fans out there the producers of this 20th anniversary edition have spared nothing to cater to your every whim. From retrospective documentaries to cut scenes, alternate scenes, screen tests, tributes, commentary by the writer, and music videos with more hairspray than a Duran-Duran concert this two-disc edition has it all. (Full list below)

Screen formats: "Matted" widescreen 1.85:1 presentation

Subtitles: English; Spanish subtitles; English closed captions

Language and Sound: 6.1 DTS; 5.1 Dolby; 2.0 Dolby sound

Other Features: Color; interactive menus; scene access.

* Commentary -
o With writer Eleanor Bergstein
* Interviews
o With Jennifer Grey, Kenny Ortega, Eleanor Bergstein
* Featurettes
o Dirty Dancing with Patrick Swayze
o Tribute to Jerry Orback
o Trivia Track
o Multi-angle dance sequences
o The classic story on stage (plug for the theatre version)
* Deleted Scenes
o Alternate scenes
o Extended scenes
o Outtakes
o Screen Tests
* Interactive Photo Gallery
* Music Videos
o Hungry Eyes
o She's Like the Wind
o (I've Had) The Time of My Life

Number of discs: - 2-Disc Deluxe release with Keepcase Packaging

{pgomakase}

You are here: Home
Follow us on Twitter
Like us on Facebook
Google+
Letterboxd
Find us on Rotten Tomatoes