Jarv’s Birthday Series: Dirty Dancing (1987)
Man I hate this film. I really, really hate this film. It’s just an utterly indefensible load of cobblers, and one that is mystifyingly popular despite being the most malevolent, poorly written, poorly acted load of crap churned out in the 80’s. Unfortunately for me, it was released on 21st August 1987, so I’m fucking stuck with it. Really, though, no revisionism can possibly alter the fact that it is a malignant tumour of a film, and what do you do with a tumour? You cut it out and fucking incinerate it. Dirty Dancing is a stupid, ill-natured, masquerading as a message film (despite being nothing of the sort) and downright offensive to the intellect. I fucking loathe this movie.
Dirty Dancing was a phenomenon. There’s no other really fitting description for it. Despite being of no discernable quality it made a whole skip load of cash, spawned the obligatory sequels, the soundtrack went multi-platinum and it now has a hugely popular stage adaptation. This is frankly mystifying and completely unwarranted. What’s more, there isn’t a woman on the planet that is able to see this film for the evil load of dogma driven horseshit that it is, and I’ve no idea at all why. Seriously, ask any woman you know and they’ll all give it two thumbs way, way up. Why? Why can’t they see it? I think this is just one of the times when I have to accept that there are fundamental differences between how men and women think. We like ‘splosions, boobs and nob gags, they like the paedophile’s bible that is Dirty Dancing.
Who really gives a fuck what this film is about? The plot is both laughably misconceived and deeply offensive, but really only exists for the dance numbers. Which are shit. I suppose I’d better at least lay out a synopsis for what passes for the storyline here. Jennifer Grey’s Baby (I shit you not) is SEVENTEEN. I’ve put this in capitals because it will become very important later on. Her father (Jerry Orbach) is the personal physician to some cunt that owns a holiday camp in the Catskills. Anyhow, as a perk, Dr Houseman brings his family (including Baby and her sister) out to the camp for the summer. After witnessing illicit Rock and Roll Dancing Baby begins to stalk Patrick Swayze’s Jonny, the local dance instructor. Her sister starts going out with douchebag pre-med student Robbie (Max Cantor). He’s knocked up Jonny’s dance partner, so Baby lends her the money (which she borrows from her father, despite this being enough to buy a new car back then) and agrees to learn to dance to fill in for her at her and Jonny’s residency at the local posh hotel. One messy abortion later, and Baby is forced to seek help from her father. This, through one of the stupidest misunderstandings ever filmed, leads to Dr. Houseman thinking Jonny is a scumbag (with some justification). She’s then forbidden from seeing him, but will this stop her? Will it fuck. No sooner has she been told that she can’t do it, than they’re bumping uglies like they’re trying to repopulate the world. Remember how old she is? Thought so. Anyhow, tick follows tock follows tick follows tock, “Here’s to you Ahab” and the fat man hit the beat with all of his heart…
Sorry about that. Was momentarily distracted. Where was I? Oh yes, it’s revealed (through the flimsiest of plot contrivances) and he’s fired for shagging her- but he turns up to do the last dance.
To start with, this is embarrassing to watch. Grey is a lousy dancer, and long chunks of the film are her in montage apparently getting better (although she still looks as comfortable as a dolphin on land). Basically, nothing of interest happens in this film- everything is totally inevitable, and it plays out exactly as you would think (with an even more contrived attempt at tying up the loose strings in the final two minutes). Burdened by such a farrago, it’s no wonder that the actors struggle. Grey was never a world-beating actress, but she does her best here, while Swayze exudes charm and, unfortunately, sleaze. However, in his defence, they do everything the possibly can to humiliate him- he’s oiled at one point for fuck’s sake. The rest of the acting here is, being kind, stilted.
Then there’s the writing. The reason I find this film so virulently offensive is because it’s a heinous combination of preachy and cretinous. I’m going to pick this shit apart now, so if you’re of a sensitive disposition, please look away. Firstly, fuckos, don’t try to pretend this is a message film. The Pro-Choice message here is laughably simplistic, totally extraneous to the story (it works just as well if she isn’t up the spout), and staggeringly preachy and unsubtle. Just fuck off. In a way, I would ordinarily have admired the balls of a film that’s pretending to be a drippy chick-flick but is actually about child abuse (yes, I said it) and the liberal agenda. However, the film is disingenuous in passing this through- it isn’t actually a message film, although it desperately wants to be. It’s about the lu-u-u-u-rve and the dancing. Even then, I could cope with that, if that’s where it stops, but the film is full of preachy didactic speeches about worker’s rights and standing up to the man (seriously) and worse than that disregards any other ideology. Don’t believe me? Well, we know Robbie is an asshole, because he’s already said frighteningly right-wing assholish things. Oh, and he won’t take responsibility for the kid. However, just in case we don’t get the point- he carries a fucking copy of The Fountainhead to work. For fuck’s sake! Actually, to be fair, I would believe that any waiter walking around with a copy of Ayn Rand’s shitnum opus would probably be a douche. On a final note on the writing, the dialogue in this fucking dreadful movie is absolutely woeful. The famous line about putting baby in the corner is faintly ridiculous, and that it succeeds at all is down to Swayze, but there’s a host of crap dialogue gushing out of this film at every opportunity. Baby’s exhortation to Jonny about how she’ll never feel again being a flying example.
This is where I get accused of being a grump, and I suppose there is some justification for that. Mrs. Jarv was making a pretty good case for the film, until the big “Hungry Eyes” song came on. When I completely lost it: FOR FUCK’S SAKE: THIS FUCKING FILM IS SET IN THE FUCKING FIFTIES. ALMOST EVERY OTHER (two exceptions) SONG IN THE FUCKING THING IS AN ACCURATE PERIOD PIECE. WHY IS THIS FUCKING HORRIBLE ANACHRONISM IN IT? Seriously, can someone explain the sheer stupidity of setting a film in the 50’s then making the major musical numbers in it from 1987? And obviously from the fucking 80’s as well. It’s so fucking insulting to the intelligence and in a film as frankly reprehensible as this one, I find it almost unbearable. Actually, the music/ band provides a cracking moment of unintentional levity: the sole black character is the band leader and in a moment of sheer fucking ineptness, they have him performing slap bang in front of three large red K’s. The only black person in the film is in a fucking DJ, playing in front of KKK. Nice one, morons.
At some stage I’m going to get round to compiling a list of films which appear to have a happy ending, but actually don’t. This film is going to be one of them. The climax of the film has Swayze come back to dance, however, he’s still been fired for interfering with an underage girl, and is going to have to go back to New York to enrol in Painter and Decorator college. I’d also imagine that the police would like to have a few words with him about statutory rape as well. Family Guy nailed this one. This is another thing that I don’t understand about the film, it would have been perfectly easy given that Grey was 26 when this was shot to have the character as an 18 year old. Instead, we’ve got the decidedly icky spectacle of a man in his 30’s fucking an underage teenager.
Overall, this is boring and embarrassing toss. Even without the icky underage interference, it’s still a moronic and humiliating mish-mash of shoddy dogma and crappy music. There’s not one redeeming feature to this film, it is hideous crap and I don’t recommend any man watch it without the promise of some bedroom action or to meet some ridiculous and ill thought out criteria for a review series. I’d also recommend no women watch it, because, as I’ve mentioned, it’s utter shit, but for some reason they seem to have a blind spot towards it and are inexplicably able to ignore the many, many flaws to the film. Dirty Dancing can have my second Orangutan of Doom for the series, and I couldn’t think of anything funny to do with him, so here he is in his full moody glory.
I do apologise for the sweeping generalisations here about women, but this is based on basically every woman I know- which isn’t the most accurate survey out there.
Next up is Married to the Mob, which I’m sure I saw at the time, but don’t remember at all. Still, it can’t be any worse.
The full list in this series:
- 1978 – The Driver (3 out of 4)
- 1979 – Life of Brian (4 out of 4)
- 1980 –Xanadu (Orangutan of Doom)
- 1981 – An American Werewolf in London (4 out of 4)
- 1982 – Class of 1984 (3 out of 4)
- 1983 – Fire and Ice (1 out of 4)
- 1984 – Cal (1/2 out of 4)
- 1985 – Teen Wolf (3 out of 4)
- 1986 –Reform School Girls (2.5 out of 4)
- 1987 – Dirty Dancing (Orangutan of Doom)
- 1988 – Married to the Mob
- 1989 – Millennium
- 1990 – Darkman
- 1991 – Harley Davidson and the Marlboro Man
- 1992 – Christopher Columbus: The Discovery(TBC)
- 1993 – Hard Target
- 1994 – Natural Born Killers
- 1995 – Desperado
- 1996 – Freeway
- 1997 – Mimic
- 1998 – Blade
- 1999 – Teaching Mrs. Tingle
- 2000 – Bring it On
- 2001 – Heartbreakers
- 2002 – Simone
- 2003 – My Boss’s Daughter
- 2004 – Exorcist: The beginning
- 2005 – The Cave
- 2006 – Invincible
- 2007 – War
- 2008 – Death Race
- 2009 – Der Baader Meinhof Komplex
- 2010 – Piranha 3D
- 2011 – Conan the Barbarian