I admit it -- I'm pretty tough on sappy romantic comedies and Harlequin-lite pablum by the likes of Nicholas Sparks. Partly it's because, as a female film critic, I've had to lay a certain amount of groundwork to convince people that I really do know my Kubrick and my Peckinpah and my Tarantino, and not just my Kate Hudson and Reese Witherspoon. So, yeah, I may be a little tougher on your average Sandra Bullock movie than necessary. Sorry, Sandy, but them's the breaks.

Honestly, though? I think the virulence that I hurl at modern-day chick flicks is because, deep down inside, I adore a good love story. I grew up in a household where we watched the classics, like It Happened One Night, Brief Encounter, and An Affair to Remember. The bar's set pretty high. I'm a sucker for a well-told romantic tale, which is why I despise the mindless, formulaic crap that's currently peddled as "romance."

But what do I love? Okay, it's time to come out of the closet with this one. I love, love, love Dirty Dancing.

There. I said it. I'll watch Dirty Dancing any damn time in pops up on cable. I own the 20th-anniversary DVD, and I'll pull it off the shelf a few times a year. Honestly, I have no idea how many times I've watched it, but I practically know the entire movie by heart. I quietly mouth "I carried a watermelon" along with Jennifer Grey, and I still laugh when she dances the marengue so very badly with Patrick Swayze that first time, and I still get butterflies in my stomach at the end, when Swayze looks into her eyes and sings about how he had the time of his life, and it's all because of her.
Yeah, I do relate to Francis "Baby" Houseman, the smart, socially awkward young woman who's dazzled by stunningly beautiful dancer Johnny Castle. I feel with her every step of the way, as she grows from the wallflower of the family to someone who should never be put in a corner. I love the entire dynamic of the film -- two people who each believe, for utterly different reasons, that the other one is way out of their league, yet they fall in love anyway.

And I love Baby's bravery, as in this scene, where she not only tells Johnny -- blindingly gorgeous, shirtless Johnny -- how she feels, but then takes the initiative and seduces him by asking him to dance. The scene is elegant, it's beautifully shot and paced, and it's hot as hell. It's everything that I love about Dirty Dancing:

categories Cinematical