"Dirty Dancing" Review
© 1998 Fontaine L.

The cynical part of me wanted to hate this movie - "It's just another fairy tale," it said. A fairy tale in which goals are too simply achieved and the impossible happens. That part of me said it wasn't right to like a movie like this.

Well, to hell with it. I liked this movie. Enjoyed it immensely. As used to nitpicking about movies as I am, I couldn't help but pick out quite a few things about this movie that I didn't like. But still, when the credits started rolling, I was smiling and my feet were tapping to the beat of "I've had the time of my life. . . " "Dirty Dancing" is like the kind of person who really doesn't have anything going for him, and yet charms everyone who chances to meet him. "Dirty Dancing" has charisma and a refreshing eagerness that we don't see much in movies today. Both Jennifer (Where- Is-She-Now) Grey and her character Baby have such warmth and bubbly charm that you can't help but keep your eyes on her. It's very hard to feign naivete. All the other characters - ranging from Baby's annoyingly clueless sister to Penny - are distinct and well-portrayed. The plot, though mild by today's standards, is firm, clear, and enticing. The choice of various songs in this film accentuate the fact that score can make or break a movie - and the songs that were chosen in this movie are an essential part of it. After all, this is a film about dancing. Some of the best moments occur when Baby and Johnny (Patrick Swayze) dance - not to say that they are the best dancers in the world, but they look perfect together. All you need is a good song (which they have plenty here) to get lost in the moment. In a sense, here we have another "MTV movie" - but one that has a strong enough plot and strong enough characterization to support the gaps between the music. In other words, we are always kept entertained.

However, this movie is by no means superb. The romance seems superficial - I have a hard time believing Baby would fall for Johnny, simply because he was being such a jerk in the beginning. I also cannot believe that her sister suddenly becomes tender and loving. The movie has more than its share of cheesy lines and scenes that have become worn out cliches (i.e., the daughter reconciles with father with help of misunderstood boyfriend scene). Even so, the movie reminds us of all of the passion we have felt inside at one time or another, and when we're not busy admiring the adorable Jennifer Grey, we're lost in the beat of the music. Yeah, so maybe it is like a fairy tale - but we all need to listen to the morals it preaches some time.

And it's a damn fun way to learn.

Rating: B (First viewing, 2/27/98)