Dirty Dancing (1987)

5 Mar


Smith’s Verdict: **1/2

Reviewed by Tanner Smith

So many people have told me to watch the 1987 movie “Dirty Dancing,” and I’m not usually one to give in to peer pressure, as I’ve heard of it six years before I finally got around to checking it out.

What is it about this movie that people just go crazy over? Well, the dancing is certainly fun to watch as the actors turn out to be good, lively dancers. The romance between the two star-crossed lovers seems to have people interested. What do I think of the movie, personally? Well, the dancing isn’t bad, like I said. The acting’s not bad either, and we have an engaging young couple, played by Jennifer Grey and Patrick Swayze, to follow. But as a story, “Dirty Dancing” tells us nothing new. This is all stuff we’ve seen before.

Let me give the gist of the story and you see if you can predict the rest of it. The story takes place in summer 1963, as 17-year-old “Baby” Houseman (Grey) is vacationing with her rich family at a resort in the Catskill Mountains. Her father is Dr. Houseman (Jerry Orbach), the personal physician of the owner of the resort (Jack Weston). The owner tries to set Baby up with his obnoxious son Neil (Lonny Price), but she doesn’t like him. Baby finds excitement in the after-hours parties thrown by the hotel staff. She’s intrigued by the “dirty dancing” and wants to get a lesson from hunky dance instructor Johnny Castle (Swayze).

At first Johnny is hesitant, as he doesn’t like the fact that this “cute little rich girl” is hanging around on his and his friends’ turf. But Johnny’s dance partner Penny (Cynthia Rhodes) is pregnant by a waiter who wants nothing to do with her. So Baby helps out by getting money from her father (not telling him what it’s for, but it’s OK—he trusts her) and paying for Penny’s abortion. Then, Johnny agrees to teach Baby and make her his dancing partner for the resort’s final show, and they form a secret relationship.

Can you guess where this is going? Misunderstandings? Attempts to keep them apart? Final reconciliation? The other people realizing their mistakes? Happy ending?

You bet!

Yes, later in the movie, the secret is out, and Baby’s father couldn’t be more disappointed. I was hoping for more understanding by this character, since in the first half of the movie, he seems like a good guy—he’s trusting, listening, and reasonable. But when he finds that Johnny is with his daughter, his ethics are practically nonexistent. Anyone can see that this is a good guy and wouldn’t hurt Baby in any way—anyone, that is, except him.

The “dirty dancing” in the title is somewhat false. Some moves are hot enough, but since the movie is rated PG-13, it doesn’t get much hotter than that. For a movie called “Dirty Dancing,” this is pretty tame.

Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey are likable, share good chemistry, and are actually great dancers. And “Dirty Dancing” does have its cute moments, as well as a nicely-done (though clichéd) final dancing sequence, taking place during the final show at the resort. So this isn’t a bad movie; but the story gave me nothing new. I wouldn’t mind so much except so much dwells on many clichés that there are many times when I didn’t really care about what was happening.

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