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

New Movies

Wind River Movie Review

Wind River Movie Review

After writing the superb Sicario and Hell or High Water, Taylor Sheridan moves back into...

The Vault Movie Review

The Vault Movie Review

Filmmakers Dan Bush and Conal Byrne attempt a mash-up of a frantic heist movie with...

Goon: Last of the Enforcers Movie Review

Goon: Last of the Enforcers Movie Review

The 2012 Canadian comedy Goon was one of those surprising little films that snuck up...

Detroit Movie Review

Detroit Movie Review

After The Hurt Locker and Zero Dark Thirty, Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal reteam to...

Logan Lucky Movie Review

Logan Lucky Movie Review

Good news: Steven Soderbergh's well-publicised retirement from directing only lasted about four years. He's back...

American Made Movie Review

American Made Movie Review

An enjoyably freewheeling tone and Tom Cruise's star wattage combine to make this an entertaining...

An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power Movie Review

An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power Movie Review

It's been a decade since Al Gore's wake-up-call documentary won the Oscar. And here he...

Advertisement
The Hitman's Bodyguard Movie Review

The Hitman's Bodyguard Movie Review

It really doesn't matter that this movie is utterly ridiculous, because the central pairing of...

Final Portrait Movie Review

Final Portrait Movie Review

A relaxed, amusing true story about noted Swiss painter and sculptor Alberto Giacometti, this sharply...

Tom of Finland Movie Review

Tom of Finland Movie Review

Finnish artist Tuoko Laaksonen used the name "Tom of Finland" as he drew explicit illustrations...

A Ghost Story Movie Review

A Ghost Story Movie Review

Filmmaker David Lowery reunites the stars from his offbeat Western Ain't Them Bodies Saints for...

Atomic Blonde Movie Review

Atomic Blonde Movie Review

From the co-director of John Wick, this similarly styled action romp puts Charlize Theron front...

Girls Trip Movie Review

Girls Trip Movie Review

This movie's premise basically sounds like The Hangover with added black girl power. But it's...

Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie Movie Review

Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie Movie Review

There's so much manic energy in this animated action comedy that it can't help but...

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.