Because for her second film Najwa picked a Patrick Swayze flick, I had really no choice but to show this short:

“You keep Christmas in your way, and let me keep it in mine, OK?”

Sadly (happily?), the inspiration for that song, Roadhouse, was NOT the Patrick Swayze film that Najwa picked.  Instead she went with the 1987 Emile Ardolino chick-flick Dirty Dancing.  Ardolino is the auteur behind such classics as Sister Act and the unnecessary sequel Three Men and a Little Lady, so you know Dirty Dancing was basically the acme of his career.

Now, I grew up in the ’80s, and seeing as I was 13 when Dirty Dancing came out I was basically one chromosome away from being right smack dab in the middle of its demographic.  More likely than not I never had a post-pubescent crush on a girl who wasn’t looking past me trying to find her own personal Johnny Castle. But as for me, I had never seen it until Najwa brought it in to movie night.

And of course, when asked afterwards how I found the film I had only a three-word response: “Too much dancing.”  But to be fair to the film there was a plot, so let’s get to it.

“Aw Hell, Just Slap Something Together”, from Frank Lloyd Wright’s Apathy Era is a beloved example of Americana

We begin the story in the summer of 1963 with Frances “Baby” Houseman vacationing with her family at Kellerman’s resort in the Catskills before she is headed off to college in the fall.  She’s there with her father the medical doctor, her mother the cardboard stand-in, and her older sister – who I believed until just this minute when reviewing the wikipedia article on the film was actually her younger sister.  Oh well, it doesn’t really matter.  I would point out that these two sisters look so completely unalike that they had to be trying to subtly push the “one of them was adopted” angle.  But that’s not really very important.

Watermelon envy.  It’s a thing.

What is important is that the hotel employees, including the dance instructors, are not allowed to spend time with the guests outside of official interaction.  This rule seems relatively arbitrary, and that’s because it is.  Guess which rule Baby is going to be breaking?

In first grade, I called this “playing cats”

Baby gets herself mixed up in a bit of an intrigue among the dancer folk.  See, one of the ladies has been left in the family way by another employee and knows she is soon to be losing her job because of it.  But Baby sticks her nose in, borrowing money from her wealthy father (who is OK with giving it to her even after her outright refusal to tell him what it’s for) allowing the woman to go get a backroom abortion.

I know this is supposed to be a tango or something, but can you teach me to dance to that Styx song?

Of course, it turns out that the only possible appointment just happens to be in conflict with an offsite dance gig that Johnny Castle and the other woman have, and amongst the many possible options one might have thought of, the only one they can come up with is to hastily teach Baby to do the dance instead.

Monty Python’s How Not To Swim

They even go down to the lake to get half naked and wet…I mean to practice the lift maneuver in the dance.  It makes sense, because mattresses and foam probably hadn’t even been invented yet.  Regardless, they do eventually make it to the end of the dance/abortion evening because that’s the way the arrow of time works.  Still, Baby was not particularly good at dancing, she completely bailed out on the lift, oh, and the abortion went wrong leaving the other dancer in the throes of a medical emergency.  With no apparent recourse, Baby gets her father up in the middle of the night to take care of the woman.

“Have a Patrick Swayze Independence Day?!?”  “You celebrate the birth of our nation in your way and let me celebrate it in mine!”

Naturally, this leads to her father losing a pretty big deal of trust in Baby, seeing as he now knows that she borrowed that money in order to fund an at-the-time illegal medical procedure.  And naturally, rather than being abashed and working to regain her father’s trust, Baby instead starts sneaking out of her room in the middle of the night to sleep with Johnny Castle.  Then follows the classic Shakespearean conundrum: Johnny is accused of stealing a wallet, and his boss is about to fire him for it.  But Baby knows that Johnny couldn’t have stolen it, because they were together when the theft occurred.  What is Baby to do?  If you answered “Admit to her affair with Johnny in order to change the reason that he is fired from theft to consorting with the guests” then you’d be right!  Whoops!  This leads to two things.  First, now Baby’s father has an even lower opinion of her moral standards.

Good news!  You’ve been bumped to an aisle seat!

And second, this allows Johnny Castle to come romping back into the lodge on the final night of the summer season to utter the weirdly infamous line we all know so well…”Nobody puts Baby in a corner!”  That, right up there, is the corner in question.  It’s more kind of like a non-structural column sticking out of the wall than a corner, and it’s not really clear that she’s been put there, per se, but the line probably reads better than “Nobody allows Baby to sit with her back to a decorative column of rock!”  And when I say it probably reads better, I do mean it, as the original line is downright terrible.  Somehow I expected the one line I knew from Dirty Dancing to be more profound and less profoundly weird.

We call this move the McDonnell-Douglas!

Anyway, the movie wraps up pretty quickly from there.  Baby’s father learns that he was under a misapprehension that Johnny Castle was the man responsible for the earlier pregnancy.  Naturally, once Johnny Castle is upgraded from “low-class, uneducated, sleeping around, woman-deserting, daughter-cradle-robbing lowlife” to “low-class, uneducated, sleeping around, NOT woman-deserting, daughter-cradle-robbing lowlife”, Baby’s father immediately accepts him with full apology.  And Johnny, for his part, interrupts the final act of the season to get in some of his own newfangled dancing, complete with a suddenly improved Baby as a partner, and, wouldn’t you know it, they even do the lift!  The End.

As I said above, “Too much dancing.”  Not that I expected anything else, but unlike John Cleese’s cheese-seeker, I am decidedly not one of those who delight in all manifestations of the Terpsichorean muse.  Song, art, beauty I understand fully, but I just plain don’t get dance in the same way that someone born without taste buds would probably have a pretty hard time understanding the particular appeal of strawberries.  And this movie has a lot of dance.  (On a side note, I also find it deliciously sly that Monty Python had John Cleese’s know-it-all character mistake Terpsichore’s realm for Euterpe’s.  I mean, they did that on purpose.  That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.)

But what the film lacks in plot and overdoes in dance, it almost makes up for in soundtrack.  I mean, the list of songs is amazing, from contemporary hits like “Be My Baby” to “Big Girls Don’t Cry” to “In The Still Of The Night” to “Will You Love Me Tomorrow” to “Some Kind Of Wonderful”.  Even the modern songs included on the soundtrack were pretty good (really good, if you go by radio play) – “Hungry Eyes”, “She’s Like The Wind”, “(I’ve Had) The Time Of My Life”…  This last one actually does bug me a bit in the sense that it was used as the diegetic music for the final dance even though it was totally not remotely close to 1963-esque music, but I guess nobody’s perfect.