What's so great about Dirty Dancing (1987)?

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ironpony
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17 Oct 2020, 2:21 am

It's such a classic in people's eyes, especially my friends. Three of my friends say it's one of their top favorite movies, of all time, if not their most favorite movie ever. But why exactly?

I mean it's not a bad movie by any means, but it's in no way perfect I don't think. I think it suffers from some structure problems.

SPOILERS

For one thing, I didn't buy who the two main characters would want to have sex right after witnessing their friend having to suffer through a botched abortion. But they decide to have sex literally like an hour later, which felt all wrong to me, pacing and mood wise, as if the filmmakers came back into the editing room and were not aware of how close the previous scenario still was. So I just wasn't feeling the love at all because it was so soon afterwards.

Another thing is, Johnny tells Baby's dad that he got his friend pregnant, so her friend would not be fired from her job.

But Johnny is constantly trying to seek Baby's dad's approval. He even tells Baby to tell her Dad about them but baby doesn't want to, afraid of disapproval.

However, Johnny is the one who caused the disapproval by lying to Baby's dad. So all Johnny has to do is tell her dad that he lied about getting the woman pregnant so she could keep her job.

Yet he never tells her dad this and Baby never tells him either. Even when her dad tells Johnny that's the reason why he doesn't approve of him, Johnny responds by saying "Yeah would think that wouldn't you".

Well duh, you told him you did! All you have to do is tell him you actually didn't and you just said you did so the friend could keep her job. But he doesn't! He keeps shooting himself in the foot, and expecting Baby to correct it by putting the weight on her shoulders.

Maybe it's better if Baby was the one to explain but she doesn't do it either! Her Dad has to find out from the actual guy who got her pregnant. But the fact that neither Baby or Johnny would tell him the truth is just not convincing to me.

Also the final song that Baby and Johnny are dancing too took me out of the movie. The movie is suppose to take place in the early 60s, but you can so tell that the song they are dancing too at the dance was a late 80s song, by the sound of it. So it came off as unintentionally anachronistic, and that took me out of it.

But overall, I just felt the movie was actually quite average really, and do not see why it's considered to be the 'Citizen Kane of the 80s', as my friends make it to be? What did I miss?



MaxE
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12 Dec 2020, 10:34 am

I don't remember the film in detail but I understand your concerns. This film couldn't have been made today. In the 80s, representations of young women (I don't know how old the character is supposed to be but my impression is that she was still in high school) "becoming women" under the tutelage of older men was a thing. Consider Flashdance as an even more blatant example of this. I don't think this film would have been made nowadays.

Ironically, this film is realistic as it is based on the personal experience of the author of the screenplay. In those days, young Jewish women from Brooklyn and Queens, whose parents had attended Young Communist summer camps during the Depression, grew up fast, or at least they weren't protected the way young women are protected in today's America. Carole King:

Image


who is 17 in the above picture, moved in with a guy at age 16 or 17 then married him at 17 when she got pregnant, would have been another example from those days, the point being that this wasn't viewed as especially scandalous back then. Sorry if this may not seem especially relevant to how we should judge that film, but it does put things in perspective and makes us more aware how much our world has changed since the late 50s or the 80s.


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ironpony
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12 Dec 2020, 2:28 pm

Well I think the movie could still be made nowadays, but they would still set it in the early 60s like the original, wouldn't they?



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12 Dec 2020, 3:41 pm

Are your friends who like this movie female?

I have friends who rave about it, but I've never liked the film. I found it boring and I've tried watching it a couple of times, but can never make it to the end.

How old are your friends? In the 80s and early 90s this was a film your parents didn't want you to watch, so my friends have fond memories of watching it in a group at another friend's house. It's a coming of age thing. It has sentimental value. It's about sexual awakening. Girls watch it at a time when they are finding their sexuality, like Baby.

I can't get past the fact that the protagonist is called Baby.

I think the fact that she's pretty average looking has an appeal too. "That could be me being wooed by Patrick Swayze", girls think.

I watched a good video about the making of Dirty Dancing where the writer was interviewed but I'm having trouble finding it.

It broke a lot of 80s taboos, which is why it is seen as a classic.



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12 Dec 2020, 3:59 pm

This is a good review



Just reading the comments on this video. It's a documentary on Netflix that has the interview with the writer. It's well worth a watch. It's called The Movies that made Us.



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12 Dec 2020, 4:24 pm

My recollection of the film is that it was very mediocre, and at times annoying. The song 'Time Of My Life' is excellent however, even exceptional, and did redeem it somewhat.


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ironpony
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12 Dec 2020, 7:21 pm

hurtloam wrote:
Are your friends who like this movie female?

I have friends who rave about it, but I've never liked the film. I found it boring and I've tried watching it a couple of times, but can never make it to the end.

How old are your friends? In the 80s and early 90s this was a film your parents didn't want you to watch, so my friends have fond memories of watching it in a group at another friend's house. It's a coming of age thing. It has sentimental value. It's about sexual awakening. Girls watch it at a time when they are finding their sexuality, like Baby.

I can't get past the fact that the protagonist is called Baby.

I think the fact that she's pretty average looking has an appeal too. "That could be me being wooed by Patrick Swayze", girls think.

I watched a good video about the making of Dirty Dancing where the writer was interviewed but I'm having trouble finding it.

It broke a lot of 80s taboos, which is why it is seen as a classic.


Yes they are women friends, and they are in their 30s with me, but they still say it's in their top 3-5 movies of all time, dependin on which one you ask, but they always say that, whenever you ask them their favorite movies.

But I don't the big deal. I mean if it were the other way around about a teenage boy finding his sexual awakening, I wouldn't think of the movie that good. Why is the movie a big deal for women in their 30s even nowadays?



hurtloam
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13 Dec 2020, 2:20 am

Watch that YouTube video. It explains a lot.

I like the idea of female friendship in a film and people working together. So many films are based on rivalry for tension. I can't think of a good film with women that has a bechdel passing conversation.

Maybe Bridesmaids, but overall I'm not keen on that film. Megan is a disgusting character, but she's a true friend to Annie.



ironpony
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13 Dec 2020, 11:33 pm

Well I watched the youtube link video but I feel like she is making the movie to be bigger than it actually is. I mean for example, she says that Baby's father needs to get over his misogyny, but nothing in the movie indicated to me that he was a misogynist. He was worried about her daugther getting mixed up in the wrong crowd. That doesn't make him a misogynist does it?

Or when she talks about how the movie is told from her point of view whenever she sees Johnny's body. But is this really a big deal? So she's hot for a guy's body, but is that really a big deal in cinema?



hurtloam
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14 Dec 2020, 2:23 am

Yeah, that is a big deal. As a man, you're taking that for granted in cinema. It caters to you.

Surely your film studies have taught you about the male gaze.

Daddy hating Baby's boyfriend is a trope though. Not sure how new that was at the time.




Last edited by hurtloam on 14 Dec 2020, 2:38 am, edited 1 time in total.

idntonkw
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14 Dec 2020, 2:36 am

ironpony wrote:
It's such a classic in people's eyes, especially my friends. Three of my friends say it's one of their top favorite movies, of all time, if not their most favorite movie ever. But why exactly?

I mean it's not a bad movie by any means, but it's in no way perfect I don't think. I think it suffers from some structure problems.

SPOILERS

For one thing, I didn't buy who the two main characters would want to have sex right after witnessing their friend having to suffer through a botched abortion. But they decide to have sex literally like an hour later, which felt all wrong to me, pacing and mood wise, as if the filmmakers came back into the editing room and were not aware of how close the previous scenario still was. So I just wasn't feeling the love at all because it was so soon afterwards.

Another thing is, Johnny tells Baby's dad that he got his friend pregnant, so her friend would not be fired from her job.

But Johnny is constantly trying to seek Baby's dad's approval. He even tells Baby to tell her Dad about them but baby doesn't want to, afraid of disapproval.

However, Johnny is the one who caused the disapproval by lying to Baby's dad. So all Johnny has to do is tell her dad that he lied about getting the woman pregnant so she could keep her job.

Yet he never tells her dad this and Baby never tells him either. Even when her dad tells Johnny that's the reason why he doesn't approve of him, Johnny responds by saying "Yeah would think that wouldn't you".

Well duh, you told him you did! All you have to do is tell him you actually didn't and you just said you did so the friend could keep her job. But he doesn't! He keeps shooting himself in the foot, and expecting Baby to correct it by putting the weight on her shoulders.

Maybe it's better if Baby was the one to explain but she doesn't do it either! Her Dad has to find out from the actual guy who got her pregnant. But the fact that neither Baby or Johnny would tell him the truth is just not convincing to me.

Also the final song that Baby and Johnny are dancing too took me out of the movie. The movie is suppose to take place in the early 60s, but you can so tell that the song they are dancing too at the dance was a late 80s song, by the sound of it. So it came off as unintentionally anachronistic, and that took me out of it.

But overall, I just felt the movie was actually quite average really, and do not see why it's considered to be the 'Citizen Kane of the 80s', as my friends make it to be? What did I miss?


Because it's about the excitement of a relationship and the inspiration that you feel about the dance scenes.



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14 Dec 2020, 1:56 pm


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ironpony
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14 Dec 2020, 2:02 pm

Oh okay, but if it were the other way around and the movie was about a teenage boy experiencing his sexual awakening, it probably wouldn't be in my top 3 movies of all time. That's what I don't get is why is this movie the 'Citizen Kane' for my generation? Is it really such a powerful cinema experience to see a horny teenager sexually awaken?



Last edited by ironpony on 14 Dec 2020, 2:42 pm, edited 2 times in total.

hurtloam
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14 Dec 2020, 2:34 pm

I totally agree with you.

It's got it's film school discussion value, but I would not list it as one of the greats.



ironpony
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14 Dec 2020, 2:42 pm

What am I taking for granted though? The male gaze? What's so important about gazing in cinema? The video talks about it, but what's so important about it?



hurtloam
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14 Dec 2020, 3:25 pm

The male gaze is media catered to what men find attractive and what makes them feel powerful.

I can't think of a film created by women, about women, for women,about women's coming of age, before Dirty Dancing. That's why it's significant.

I think it fails as a 21st century female gaze film because the way the camera lingers on Swayze mirrors male gaze films in the way they linger on women. Although it was groundbreaking at the time. Margot Robbie's production company seem to be creating films from the female perspective that don't parody male gaze films.

My criticism of Dirty Dancing is that I find no depth in the relationship. I like films about characters interacting with more depth. This is just animal magnetism. That's a yawn for me. I don't even like the characters.

Here's a couple of other videos on the male and female gaze.