Dirty Dancing

"Excellent"

Dirty Dancing Review


Dirty Dancing's initial success in 1987 was probably a mixture of factors -- Patrick Swayze's anointment as a sensitive hunk, the fact that the movie's sweetness was a change of pace from the loud, expensive blockbusters that dominated the landscape at the time and a pop soundtrack of golden oldies and then-current songs that flooded radio stations.

However, after watching the movie recently, the key to the movie's limitless charm is revealed to be due to the presence of Jennifer Grey. Without her performance, the movie is a flop, Bill Medley isn't cool again and, well, Swayze and Grey drift into irrelevance a year or two earlier.

Set at a posh Catskills resort in the summer of 1963, soon-to-be college freshman Baby (Grey) and her family are set to get some relaxation in. However, volleyball and lame dances don't appeal to the worldly Baby. Out looking for some excitement, she stumbles upon the staff's lodge, where much to her surprise, she sees a ton of young people set free of familial restraints. They're grinding, they're sweating, they're dirty dancing.

The hero of this pack of well-toned hoofers is Johnny (Swayze), the resort dance instructor who plays by his own rules, but can't get anyone else to play along. Baby falls instantly for him, and she sees her chance to get closer to him and that rebellion when his lifelong dance partner, Penny (Cynthia Rhodes), suffers an unwanted pregnancy and botched abortion.

Though Johnny is a two-step taskmaster, he and Baby quickly become close. She gives him courage and confidence; he gives her the strength to break free from her family ties. Despite the syrupy dramatics, Dirty Dancing is still immensely appealing and Grey is the reason. Yes, I know Swayze became huge because of this movie, but I think it was more because of his physical presence. We all know he's good looking, that women will fall for him like lemmings off of a cliff. But he has to fall for Grey, who is adorable, but certainly not a beauty queen. Most importantly, the audience has to buy them as a couple.

Grey doesn't drip with teen sensuality or flash a come hither stare. She giggles inappropriately, she curses herself for not getting dance steps right. By embodying every awkward young adult emotion about falling in love, she makes you want the romance to work. In the process, she also validates all the soap opera theatrics that revolve around her. Credit must also be given to the late Emile Ardolino, who directs the intimate scenes with Swayze and Grey with a seductive restraint that borders on the unbearable--check out the bedroom slow dance. The movie eschews sex and teenage tomfoolery for real emotions and comes out of the corner dancing up a storm.

Whether the upcoming Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights does that is anyone's guess.

Now on a special edition, 2-disc DVD, Dirty Dancing includes a bazillion features: an intro by Grey (it's seven seconds long!), commentary from the writer, commentary from much of the supporting crew and cast, plus endless, endless interviews and tribute featurettes. Swayze's nowhere to be found (what, Black Dog made him too famous?), but the trivia track is good for any number of drinking game permutations.



Dirty Dancing

Facts and Figures

Run time: 100 mins

In Theaters: Friday 21st August 1987

Box Office Worldwide: $214M

Budget: $6M

Distributed by: Vestron Pictures

Production compaines: Great American Films Limited Partnership, Vestron Pictures

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 4 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 71%
Fresh: 39 Rotten: 16

IMDB: 6.8 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director: Emile Ardolino

Producer:

Starring: as Baby (Frances) Houseman, as Johnny Castle, as Penny Johnson, as Dr. Jake Houseman, as Max Kellerman, Jane Brucker as Lisa Houseman, as Marjorie Houseman, as Neil Kellerman, Max Cantor as Robbie Gould, Alvin Myerovich as Mr. Schumacher, Paula Trueman as Mrs. Schumacher, Charles 'Honi' Coles as Tito Suarez, Neal Jones as Billy Kostecki, as Stan, Miranda Garrison as Vivian Pressman, Garry Goodrow as Moe Pressman, as Staff Kid, Thomas Cannold as Bus Boy, Heather Lea Gerdes as Dirty Dancer, Jesus Fuentes as Dirty Dancer, M.R. Fletcher as Dirty Dancer, Karen Getz as Dirty Dancer, Andrew Charles Koch as Dirty Dancer, D.A. Pauley as Dirty Dancer, Jennifer Stahl as Dirty Dancer, Dorian Sanchez as Dirty Dancer, Cousin Brucie Morrow as Magician

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

Contactmusic 2017 Exclusive

New Movies

Hidden Figures Movie Review

Hidden Figures Movie Review

This film recounts such a great true story that we don't mind the fact that...

The Founder Movie Review

The Founder Movie Review

This is the story of Ray Kroc, the man who created the concept of McDonald's....

John Wick: Chapter 2 Movie Review

John Wick: Chapter 2 Movie Review

Keanu Reeves picks up his supremely efficient hitman immediately where the 2015 original left him:...

Fences Movie Review

Fences Movie Review

After winning Tony Awards on Broadway, Denzel Washington and Viola Davis reteam for a film...

The Lego Batman Movie Movie Review

The Lego Batman Movie Movie Review

A spin-off from 2014's awesome The Lego Movie, this raucously paced action-comedy is proof that...

The Space Between Us Movie Review

The Space Between Us Movie Review

While the premise of this movie makes it look like a sci-fi adventure, the truth...

Toni Erdmann Movie Review

Toni Erdmann Movie Review

On paper, the idea of a two-hour 40-minute German comedy may not seem very promising,...

Advertisement
Gold Movie Review

Gold Movie Review

Based on a true story, this lively and sometimes outrageous adventure is packed with twists...

Loving Movie Review

Loving Movie Review

While this film tackles a huge issue in the history of race relations in America,...

T2 Trainspotting Movie Review

T2 Trainspotting Movie Review

It's been 20 years since we last saw four freewheeling young junkies from Edinburgh spiral...

Hacksaw Ridge Movie Review

Hacksaw Ridge Movie Review

Based on an astounding true story, this battlefield drama mixes warm emotion with intense action...

Sing Movie Review

Sing Movie Review

The quality of the animation in this musical comedy may not be up to Pixar...

Jackie Movie Review

Jackie Movie Review

Rather than make a standard biopic about the most famous First Lady in American history,...

Split Movie Review

Split Movie Review

After a few badly received sci-fi blockbusters, M. Night Shyamalan returned to his earthier style...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.