Is the Dirty Dancing ‘lift’ still as thrilling today as it was in the 80s? Let’s find out.
Dirty Dancing is strangely one of the most iconic films from the late-80s /early 90s. Starring a young Jennifer Grey and heart-throb Patrick Swayze, the summer romance film was a huge success. It’s been at least 20 years since I’ve seen it, so the big question is, does it still hold up?
Disclaimer: I feel obligated to warn you that this review may contain spoilers… which is ridiculous given that this movie was made in the late 80’s. Can there really still be spoilers after three decades?
The first time I watched Dirty Dancing I was mesmerized by the story, the acting, the music, and especially the dancing. I was also very young so what did I know? It’s been at least 20 years since the last time I caught this flick and after watching it again, all I can say is… the movie absolutely holds up!
The first thing I have to point out is the music is still amazing! Big applause to the music supervisors of the film. It’s easy to understand why there were two very successful soundtracks released for the one film. Also, I deeply miss Patrick Swayze and Jerry Orbach. Both actors were superior in their own right and I forgot just how much charisma they had onscreen.
The movie follows Baby (Grey), a girl in her later-teen years who is vacationing at a mountain resort with her family for the summer. She is a good girl who has a very special bond with her father (Orbach), but everything changes after she meets Johnny.
Johnny Castle (I really hate the name – it’s the one negative I’ve got) is a rebel and Baby falls for him immediately. Just writing that makes me want to gag… so why is it that the good-girl / bad-boy relationship in this movie doesn’t bug me at all? I have to believe it is because the actors playing Baby and Johnny are much older than their characters. They play their characters from a more adult perspective and it works very, very well for this particular movie.
When Johnny’s dance partner, Penny, has to drop out of a performance due to a medical issue, Baby steps in and some of my favorite scenes begin: the dance montages. I can’t get enough of Grey and Swayze working out their dance routine in every environment possible. The montages, set to music, also help speed up the timeline and their relationship. By the time they perform their dance number, it’s obvious they are very comfortable with one another and it’s no surprise when a romance sparks.
On a side note:
I have to admit I forgot just how sexy that Cry to Me scene was… I mean, seriously, is it hot in here? I feel a little warm right now. I remember hearing that the actors were not always fond of one another but after seeing that scene, there is no denying their onscreen chemistry. Goodness… what were we talking about?
Back to the movie…
When Baby involves her father in Penny’s medical crisis, he learns about Baby and Johnny. Despite how her father feels and treats her as a result, Baby spends as much time with Johnny as possible. Eventually, because of his relationship with Baby, Johnny is fired and he leaves her.
Now, there have been a few cheesy moments throughout the film, but nothing beats the ending. But somehow, it’s so much fun, I just didn’t care. Johnny comes back with a mission to perform the final dance number of the season… his way. After he tells Baby’s father, “nobody puts Baby in the corner” he whisks her to the stage and the greatest ending dance number of all time begins. Why yes, Swayze, I will have the time of my life! And let’s be honest, when Grey and Swayze nail that lift, there is no better feeling.
Dirty Dancing ends during the big dance so no one will ever really know what became of Baby and Johnny. Hopefully they lived happily ever after, maybe they didn’t, I don’t care. The good news is that the movie is still great 30+ years later and I can watch it over and over again.