I’ve had Johnny Castle’s torso on the brain lately. Between the overly advertised (at least on my mainstay, Cosmo) Dirty Dancing: Keepsake Edition and the “Hungry Eyes” Timmies ads, I feel like I’m constantly longing for mid-afternoon swim with the Kellerman’s king of the horizontal, er vertical, mambo. Unfortunately, I don’t live anywhere near a non-polluted body of water. Oh, and I don’t know any super jacked dance teachers with mythical mansions for last names.
If you’re one of the very few who haven’t carried a watermelon or invaded someone’s dance space, let me give you a quick summary of your soon-to-be favourite sick movie. It’s summer. 1963. A sorta mousy Jewish girl nicknamed “Baby” (Jennifer Grey) goes to a resort called Kellerman’s for summer fun with the fam. She thinks she’s going to have the worst time ever and so she covers up her rockin’ bod in big poofy dress and tries to avoid people her age at all costs. But then she opens her mind, her heart and her legs to Kellerman’s dance king, Johnny Castle (Patrick Swayze) and ends up having the time of her life (I swear, it’s the truth!).
Yes, the plot is predictable and the dialogue is straight out of hte worst teen romance novel, but rom-coms these days are so much worse (hello, Dear John, Twilight and The Last Song). In mixed 80s dance movie metaphor terms, there are many more things worth doing spontaneous lip-sync dance crawls about in this movie than there are to have angry warehouse dance montages to.
After all these years, the soundtrack remains a heaven-made melting pot of Brill Building bliss and 80s power pop delights,the love scenes are still as steamy as hell and the dancing is, and will always be, divine. And don’t even get me started on the acting.
The line delivery and shameless over-emoting might not be very realistic, but you should be sent to a coroner (or a corner, if you go by Baby) if you don’t buy the love story. There’s two reasons AFI chose Dirty Dancing as one of the 100 Greatest Love Stories of All-Time: Patrick and Jennifer. If you have the time of your life watching the movie, you owe it all to them – and their superbly steamy chemistry.
Last year, I went to see the Dirty Dancing: Live On Stage and while it was fun to revisit all the magic moments live, the show just didn’t cut it for me. The music was still awesome and the lines were as ridiculicious (new favourite word – courtesy of Phil Dunphy) but something just felt off about the whole thing. I left the theatre feeling empty – and serious deprived of goosebumps.
A while later, after Mr. Swayze (R.I.P. Patrick) passed, my mom and I revisted the original at our local cineplex. As soon as the opening beats of “Be My Little Baby” thumped out of the speakers, my camp-loving heart started going gah-gunk, gah-gunk again. And as Eric Carmen might sing, that is a feeling that won’t subside anytime soon.