tek's rating: ½

Dirty Dancing (PG-13)
Gold Label; IMDb; Lionsgate at Home; Rotten Tomatoes; TV Tropes; Wikipedia

Caution: potential spoilers.

So. This came out in 1987. I must have seen it any number of times on VHS, in like the late 80s, early 90s. And I had the soundtrack on cassette, which I surely listened to often enough. The movie definitely had a lot of good music. But I'm writing this review in May 2017, after watching it on DVD. I had bought it used not too long ago, but I finally decided I better watch it because there's going to be a TV remake later this month, and I'd like to have a review of the original to link to, if I watch that. I also want to say... I'm putting my review in the "period" section, which may include any number of movies that could be called "romantic," even if I don't put links to them in my romantic movies section. But this one I kind of have to, because really... it is. Like, not even a "suspension of disbelief" kind of romantic, but actually romantic. (Even if I still think of it primarily as a "period" movie.)

It's set in the summer of 1963. There's a young woman named Frances 'Baby' Houseman (Jennifer Grey), who is on vacation with her family at a resort in the Catskills. Her father is a doctor named Jake (Jerry Orbach, whom I know from Law & Order) and her mother is Marjorie (Kelly Bishop, whom I know from Gilmore Girls, though I didn't remember at all that she was in this movie, which kind of proves how long it's been since I watched it). And she has a sister named Lisa. Oh... and I kind of want to mention that until re-watching the movie in 2017, I always kind of assumed Baby's mother's name was Frances. I don't think I'd ever heard it spoken in the movie, and the idea that they had the same name was the only reason I could imagine for Baby to be called "Baby." But I was wrong, and now I can't imagine any reason for it.

Anyway. Baby is a socially conscious person who is going to college in the fall, but also has plans to join the Peace Corps. I think her idealism largely comes from her father, and yet... it will become evident in the course of the movie that Baby has a better grasp of justice than her father does. And um... hmmm. So like, Baby sees a guy at the resort who she immediately crushes on. He's part of the entertainment staff, and it will be awhile before she meets him. First, I should say the owner of the resort is Max Kellerman (played by Jack Weston, though if I hadn't read that and had to guess, I would have said he was played by Don Rickles.) Max has a grandson named Neil, who is being groomed to take over the business, and who is set up as a potential romantic interest for Baby (though I'm afraid I didn't remember the character even existed). Of course, she's not interested in him.

One night, Baby meets a guy named Billy, who takes her to a building where the entertainment staff are having fun, dancing in a way that I suppose you could call "dirty." Billy seems maybe interested in Baby, but it's through him that she meets his cousin, the guy she was crushing on. His name is Johnny Castle (Patrick Swayze). His dance partner is a woman named Penny, who at first Baby assumes is his girlfriend, but it turns out that's not the case. So it seems like Baby has a chance with him. (And Billy seems to take that in stride.) Anyway... it's not long before Baby learns that Penny is "knocked up," and the father is Robbie, a waiter at the resort, who refuses to accept responsibility. And he has recently taken an interest in Baby's sister, Lisa. Meanwhile, Billy knows of a doctor who could perform an abortion for Penny, but she can't afford it. So Baby gets the money from her father, without telling him what it's for. However, Johnny and Penny have a dance scheduled at another hotel on the only night Billy could get an appointment with the doctor. So, Baby begins taking dance lessons from Johnny, so that she could fill in for Penny.

And, dammit, as usual, I feel like I'm saying too much. But... the "doctor" turns out to be... not so much. When Johnny and Baby get back from their show, Billy brings them to Penny, who is in bad shape. So Baby risks everything by getting her father to help fix Penny up. Jake then tells Baby to have nothing more to do with Johnny (who he assumes got Penny pregnant). But Baby disregards that. And things eventually get more complicated. Of course, Baby and Johnny fall in love. And... after various obstacles, there's ultimately a happy ending (including reconciliation between Baby and her father, who really is a pretty decent guy).

And, dammit, as usual, I feel like I'm leaving too much out. Um... I also want to mention that there was, like, a comedian, or whatever, played by Wayne Knight, whom I don't recall having known whenever was the last time I watched this. Anyway... there are just so many incredibly memorable moments and scenes and lines in this movie. And it's just a really good story, which I thought was pretty well acted, and everything. And it's, like, a modern classic, okay? And I hope I'm not forgetting anything I wanted to say.


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