*Contains Spoilers* I rarely write comments. In my 20 years of viewing films and at times, over-analysing them to the despair of my partner, I have very rarely decided that a film in my eyes, is worth viewing 10+ times.
Dirty Dancing - 1987 a low budget film was released, set in the summer of 1963 and focused on a teenager, Baby Houseman (Frances), her older sister Lisa and their parents visiting a Summer Camp, which was hosting it's final year. Baby was everything Lisa wasn't. Lisa loved fashion, dating and boys. Baby wanted to become a Peace Embassendor, enjoyed reading and didn't have many social interactions. She was the under the watchful eye of her father and did everything she could do to please him.
This all changed in a matter of a few months for Baby Houseman. The prim and proper Daddy's Girl that never answered back found an outstanding hobby she excelled in, new friends and most importantly, her romance with Johnny Castle. Drafted in to take the place of Penny, Johnny's usual dance partner, the two struck a friendship up and within time, fell in love. The relationship was banished by Baby's father, and despite forbidding her to have anything to do with "them", Baby continued to see Johnny behind her fathers back. Her father is under the impression that Johnny is responsible for Penny's abortion - a child that was in fact fathered by Robbie, a med student doing a summer job in the resort and who was attached to Lisa. Jake Houseman refuses to talk to Johnny for this reason, and also is unaware of the fact Baby asked for money from him in order to fund the abortion.
Johnny is then accused of stealing from one of the residences who he had a previous fling with, and who is jealous of his relationship with Baby after catching them unawares. Max, the owner of the resort approaches Jake and talks of sacking Johnny, which incites Baby who knows full well he is innocent as they were together. This is Baby's coming of age; admitting to herself she is love, and admitting to her father that she knows the man she loves is innocent because she was with him. In the end, as predicted, she announces his innocence to protect him and keep him in a job at the resort, which is his only income. She falls out with her father, her family, most of the resort and even then, Johnny is still fired for having a relationship with a resident (Baby). One of the most poignant moments of the film is Baby crying to her father, apologising for letting him down, as well as the moment Johnny leaves the camp.
It is at this moment that you realise what is perhaps the most heart warming part of the film is. The way in which the characters all learn something from each other; Johnny realises that not everything is black and white, that people do not exist in this world to use him. Jake realises that his daughter is growing up, and learns to accept her choice. Even Lisa, the stuck up, spoilt sister of Baby learns that her sister needs her unconditional love and another moment in the film is when Lisa is comforting Baby after Johnny leaves. But Baby's plight is perhaps the most important - A girl who never stood up to her family; sheltered, spoilt and socially awkward. A girl who learnt to dance, learnt to embrace love and sociology, and a girl who learnt that sometimes no matter whether things are correct, they will always finish wrong. The two central characters rely on each other to figure these things out - Without each other they would have carried on for an undetermined time living a life where they knew no different. Some say this is a soppy, pathetic documentation of "love". I'm not sure if even the love story is the most significant factor here; I truly believe (or hope) the emotions run high for the viewers that enjoy this film is because of the massive change that happens to the characters personalities. The way they "grow" in just a few months. The way that they know whatever happens from this moment on, nothing will ever be the same again. This is why the film never fails to make me cry. The chemistry between Baby and Johnny (even if the actual actors themselves fought on set) is explosive - Even when they are practising and Baby frustrates Johnny with her ineptness. Everything clicks into place, and the ending moment is magical. What is worth noting in this film is for all those that bash it for being too "slushy" is that no "I love you" notion is utter during the film. When Johnny gets up on stage to announce his "return" and final dance, he is almost professional in his display of affection and love for Baby. He doesn't over-gush with sentimentality - Which I think is the same for the film.
I admit I don't watch this every month like I know some fans do, but every time I do view this, I think it captures the innocence of Baby, the angst of Johnny and the acceptance of Jake perfectly. It shows a time before the Vietnam War, the downfall of the American Government after JFK's assassination and before the "swinging sixties" revolution brought on from the likes of Presley and the Beatles.
A 9/10 from me - A timeless classic.
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