‘DIRTY DANCING’ (1987) Classic Review – “Nobody Puts Baby in a Corner”
This 29 year old film released on this day in 1987 was made for a measly $6M and has since made a whopping $214M and is loved by many people from those who lived in that era to todays generation. And when you watch this film, although it may not be the best film in its genre, you can see why it is one of the most popular…. now with a broadway show and a TV remake coming soon. A classic film that you can still enjoy even today. ‘Dirty Dancing’ is a Romantic Drama/Musical and takes place in 1963 at a resort, where after carrying a watermelon to a party ‘Baby’ Houseman (Jennifer Grey) runs into the handsome Johnny Castle (Patrick Swayze) and a love story ensues, a rather entertaining one. Overall the film follows a plot that largely plays out how you would expect it to but it does manage to cleverly incorporate a number of smaller side plots that do play a significant role by the end of the film. The character relationship and chemistry between Grey and Swayze grows throughout the film and gets progressively more enjoyable as you continue on. There is actually some great character development that takes place in this film and it makes certain moments have a greater impact. But where this film really excels is in the dance choreography and the killer soundtrack with many memorable songs making many memorable scenes.
The story in this film is a pretty good one, it flows at a fairly consistent rate once it gets going and takes turns here and there that may not be completely out of left field but they offer a very enjoyable experience. But lets be serious right now, without the strong, likeable, characters of ‘Baby’ and Johnny leading the film this would not be nearly as fun to watch. The way their love story and relationship evolves throughout the course of the film and goes through its ups and downs was expertly done. It shows in the performances, the dialogue, and the story how well they depicted a sense of progression with these characters and displayed their changing mindsets or morals in a very easy to understand manner. Plus the chemistry between Grey and Swayze is great, it makes the happy scenes happier, the sad scenes sadder, and you are able to get so much more involved in the film and invested into these characters, it works really really well. On top of the lead performances, Jerry Orbach as Jake Houseman played an important role in the film and was a big part of the emotional elements of the film. He gave the film another layer to separate it from other straightforward ‘innocent girl’ meets ‘bad boy’ stories which was refreshing.
But lets not kid ourselves here, the main reason you would want to revisit ‘Dirty Dancing’ isn’t to see the love story play out again (maybe it is, that’s cool also), but rather because of the fantastic use of that great soundtrack and how it plays into all of the dancing sequences that were very well choreographed. A lot of the times, the songs on their own are enough to really lighten the mood and give the film a very positive feel, but when coupled with some great, iconic dance numbers ore some more slower, emotional scenes they elevate the film and your mood immensely. Whether it’s ‘Hungry Eyes’, ‘She’s Like the Wind’, ‘Yes’, ‘You Don’t Own Me’, or everyones favourite ‘The Time of my Life’, every song is tied to a specific scene that together sum up the story at that moment and just provide you with just a lot of fun. Where the film does show its main flaw is in the beginning portion of the film where it takes a little bit to get going and you are slowly eased into the story, but other than that it is executed very well.
If you are a fan of musicals or more specifically 80’s musicals, truth is you have most definitely already seen this film, but just incase you haven’t, definitely check it out, you cannot be disappointed. Great dancing, fantastic soundtrack, strong performances, entertaining story, and Patrick Swayze at his best are all reasons why this will forever be a classic in the Romace/Drama/Musical genre.