Dirty Dancing: A Movie Review

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Has it truly been 30 years?  Was I only…oops I almost did it!  Did I really see it 13 times, in the theater?  At least thirty years ago it didn’t cost what it does today to go to a movie! 

As I was thinking about doing this review, it took me down a lot of rabbit trails.  Why do some movies affect us when we see them and others don’t?  Down the road a few years and the same movie may affect us totally differently. 

Dirty Dancing was set in 1963, at Kellerman’s in the Catskills.  If you’re a native Californian like me you probably don’t understand the mentality of leaving the city and spending three weeks, or maybe all summer just a drive away from home. It’s an East coast thing. Family cabins scattered about, taking meals together in the dining room and nightly entertainment possibly by your daytime waiter or the couple at the next table reminds me of a cruise ship. 

Johnny Castle, ahhhh, Johnny Castle.  Dirty Dancing was Patrick Swayze’s big break.  The movie that everyone thought would last a week in the theaters, had what could only be explained as an immediate cult following. I’m not sure anyone could ever put Swayze in the best actor category but the guy sure could dance and after all, it was Dirty Dancing. 

It was the 60s and freedom was front and center.  I will today, unapologetically admit to a pro-life belief system and quite frankly, 30 years after this movie, I didn’t even remember that being a central theme. I guess during that 30 years I moved on from “Women’s Rights” to what, in my personal opinion, comes down to, what is right. I wondered what I would say but when I watched the film again for this review, I realized that what the writer felt was the heart of her story was again from a 30 year vantage point.

The eighties had an obsession with the 60s and Dirty Dancing is representative of that era.  The dancing was amazing; controlled sensuality when compared to Miley Cyrus and some of her cronies. It’s about the entertainers, mostly young people from the wrong side of the tracks, and the guests; upper class kids from wealthy families tempted to fraternize. Dirty Dancing is one of the best movies about the love of dance and music ever made, and while it’s definitely associated with the chick flick genre, it’s a movie that just about anyone can enjoy. 

While it was the first film to ever sell over one million videos the soundtrack was worth the price of admission and still is. Even Swayze wrote and sang She’s Like the Wind for the soundtrack.  Be My Baby and (I Had) The Time of My Life were just part of why this soundtrack sold over 32 million copies and was #1 for 18 weeks.

Dirty Dancing has a lightening-in-a-bottle timelessness that works as a time capsule of the decade, and a very entertaining and beautifully composed film that packs in drama, comedy, and an iconic finale that’s still quite riveting. It will make time fly on a rainy night!  It is PG-13 but it doesn’t really cross the line.  Watch it, you’ll be singing the songs for weeks. Let me know what you think at chastings@rockcliff.com .

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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