Dirty Dancing (PG-13)

Drama 97 August 21st, 1987
By Jim Ridley
Laugh it up, wise guy, but this blockbuster 1987 musical -- playing across the country this week in a 20th-anniversary edition with extra footage and new cast interviews -- remains one of our favorite movies of the 1980s. In the role that should have made her a Streisand-caliber star, Jennifer Grey is Baby, the pampered teenage princess who blossoms during a sultry 1960s summer at a Borscht Belt resort in the Catskills; Patrick Swayze is the swivel-hipped, lower-caste dance instructor who awakens her womanhood. Here, dance is sex, power, love, and a hellacious class leveler; maybe that's why the slinky ballroom couplings are so charged with heat. Or maybe it's because the late dancer/director Emile Ardolino filmed them so painstakingly, with such emphasis on intertwined bodies and heightened emotion. Or maybe it's because Grey gives such a marvelous, deeply empathetic portrayal of dawning passion and conscience. Whatever. Of course it's silly in places -- repeat after me: "Nobody puts Baby in a corner!" -- but you'd have to be a real sourpuss not to love this movie at least a little. Besides, has there ever been a bad movie that started with the Ronettes' majestic "Be My Baby"? With Cynthia Rhodes as the obligatory bad girl, Jerry Orbach, Jack Weston, and tap-dance legend Charles "Honi" Coles; Eleanor Bergstein wrote the fondly observed script.
Emile Ardolino Jennifer Grey, Patrick Swayze, Jerry Orbach, Cynthia Rhodes, Jack Weston, Jane Brucker, Kelly Bishop, Lonny Price, Max Cantor Eleanor Bergstein Linda Gottlieb Vestron Pictures