Innocence, it might be said,
Lasts only till our first romance.
When youthful hearts begin to dance
And steal more than a passing glance
And seize (they think) their only chance
Without a thought to circumstance,
Naiveté is shed,
Adulthood in its stead.
For whether it concludes in shame
Or love that lasts a lifetime still,
A heart that’s met another’s will
And tried a second heart to fill
And felt the pain and seized the thrill
Of deeper love, for good or ill,
Will never be the same
As when their first love came.
MPAA rating: PG-13
Sometimes a movie is so iconic that you feel like you’ve seen it even when you’ve only seen the highlights. Dirty Dancing fits that mold because, although I’ve seen every dance scene and the entire ending before, I hadn’t watched it all the way through, despite my VC’s persistence. Now that I finally have… well, I was just fine with the highlights.
Before I anger any of its many ardent fans, it’s not that I disliked Dirty Dancing; it’s just that I’d already seen all the best parts. Maybe if I’d seen those classic moments as part of the whole for the first time, I’d appreciate the whole more. As it was, my viewing was essentially to fill in the gaps. I got to see how exactly “Baby” (lovely Jennifer Grey) arrived on vacation at the distinguished Kellerman’s mountain resort in 1963. I got to find out how she first met the ruggedly handsome dance instructor Johnny Castle (Patrick Swayze). And of course, I got to enjoy the cheesy but romantic quotes and the dance numbers so classic they’re still being parodied to death (like in this recent Super Bowl ad—priceless!).
But there were also things that detracted along the way, like the fact that the whole reason Baby and Johnny perform together is so she can cover for his other partner Penny (Cynthia Rhodes) who gets an abortion. The distress of her botched abortion is done tastefully enough, but what really bugged me is how Baby starts her sexual relationship with Johnny right afterward. She doesn’t know him that well at this point, and Penny literally just told her that the one who got her pregnant seemed different and true before he abandoned her. I know infatuation can be both strong and stupid, but the way Baby dives in without considering that the same thing could happen to her felt downright foolish.
Of course, lucky for her, Johnny is a good guy, or at least trying to be better, and Grey and Swayze have such chemistry together that I can see why a lot of female viewers wouldn’t give it a second thought. Sort of like how the final dance number, set to the Oscar-winning “(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life” is so timelessly satisfying that no one minds how hastily and conveniently everything wraps up with a little bow. With its dance-fueled passion and exceptional soundtrack of ‘60s hits and two original songs, it’s easy to see why Dirty Dancing is popular. For me, though, the highlights are better than the whole.
Best line: (Baby) “Me? I’m scared of everything. I’m scared of what I saw, I’m scared of what I did, of who I am, and most of all I’m scared of walking out of this room and never feeling the rest of my whole life the way I feel when I’m with you.”
Rank: Honorable Mention
© 2018 S.G. Liput
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