Dirty Dancing: Dancing to the Beat of their Hearts (1987)

Posted: December 27, 2011 in Drama, Romance

The Houseman family has arrived at the holiday camp for the summer. Though the summer is planned for the families in attendance, Frances aka ‘Baby’ has felt disconnected from the rest of the family. Getting attracted to a party including the camp staff, she meets Johnny Castle, a fantastic dancer and leader among the camp staff. She gets a brief lesson in dancing from Johnny and they begin to develop a summer romance. Though he is new to the whole love experience, he goes from dance instructor to lover as they prepare for a performance where she covers for Johnny’s childhood friend and ex-girlfriend. Meanwhile, Baby attempts to help Penny with a challenging personal issue that puts her relationship with Johnny in jeopardy as her secret comes out to the family.  With the owner’s family and wealthy guests looking for issues with the staff, the two lovers have to find a way to share their common passion for dance.

Starring: Patrick Swayze (Johnny Castle), Jennifer Grey (Frances ‘Baby’ Houseman), Jerry Orbach (Dr. Jake Houseman), Wayne Knight (Stan), Cynthia Rhodes (Penny Johnson), Jack Weston (Max Kellerman), Neal Jones (Billy Kostecki)

“Nobody puts Baby in the corner.” The cast for this film burst onto the scene with these appearances for a rather strong set of professional opportunities in a number of films and television shows. Patrick Swayze arose as an 80s icon based off his dazzling dancing and strong physique. Though he was a man of fewer words at times, the film is not set up for stunning dialogue. Jennifer Grey served as the central character for the story and provided a split performance. Her backstory as the challenged intellectual and passionate advocate did not come out so much through her relationship with Swayze except in the protection of innocence in the theft scandal and medical scare. Instead, she comes off as someone who learns to appreciate the challenges of the camp staff and find more to life than her own agenda. This may actually seem like a stretch but it is possible to pull this from the limited story development. Jerry Orbach maintains a rather controlling presence as Baby’s father but is stunted on the ability to show growth even as when presented with a few opportunities.

Emile Ardolino’s tale of summer romance was more of a platform for classic 80s music and dancing than it was about the story. To be honest, the story was rather simple. A girl meets a boy and experienced a tested romance. Baby and Johnny run into multiple challenges, including their own stubbornness, meddling by the owner’s son and frustration by her father, but their love outlasts all of their obstacles.

As far as the music, there are a number of memorable songs throughout the film. Included in the film are “Big Girls Don’t Cry” by the Four Seasons, “Do You Love Me” by Berry Gordy, “Hungry Eyes” by Eric Carmen, “In the Still of the Night” by the Five Satins and “The Time of My Life” by Bill Medley & Jennifer Warnes. Some of these songs are classics to help provide a sense of the club’s failure to update to modern music but a good number of the songs were big hits around the release time of the film.

Dirty Dancing is a classic film that is definitely a enjoyable experience. It may be missing a full story and some character development, but there is something simply classic about this 80s romance.

Dan’s Rating: 3.0/5


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