"Save the Last Dance"
Directed by Thomas Carter.
Written by Duane Adler and Cheryl Edwards.
Starring Julia Stiles and Sean Patrick Thomas.
Release Year: 2001
Review Date: 1/11/01
Did you ever see a movie in theaters a few
years ago called "Money Talks"? It had Chris Tucker and Charlie
Sheen and a whole bunch of cash; in retrospect, it was probably an
average movie at best. The script plays the race card too many
times and it features Sheen trying to act.
...but, did you see it AT a theater? And,
was your audience absolutely ghetto?
Because, if the audience was straight
ghetto, this may have been the funniest thing you ever saw in a
theater. When I saw it at one of the most ghetto theaters in Miami
back in '97, the crowd literally made that movie hilarious. Why?
Because we black people are more likely to yell at the movie screen
when we are surrounded by lots of other black people. Hey, that may
sound racist, but to know me is to know that I am one racist mamma-jamma,
and a black audience can make certain movies that much funnier.
You just haven't lived till you see black
people *talking* to the movie screen. Example: any horror movie
ever. White girl walks into a dark room, scary music starts to
build up. If you have ever seen a horror movie before, you know
this girl has got about four seconds to live, right? Well, in a
majority-black theater, this is what you hear:
"Bitch, don't walk in there!"
"That bitch is gonna die!!"
"Don't be stupid, girl!!"
And, of course, the girl dies and everyone
in the house whoops it up as she gets slashed repeatedly. If you
think this is a stereotype, then go see as many movies as I have and
tell me so. Because, I can tell you, the scene explained above is
as reliable as the sun rising in the morning.
I tell you this because tonight, I went to
see the teen dance comedy-drama "Save the Last Dance" for free,
courtesy of one Tricia "Hot" Ocampo. I was really looking forward
to ripping the hell out of this movie, because the previews looked
awful and hey, it was produced by MTV. Even long-time Bellview
member Katy "Cheap Rent" Berleth told me that I "had" to see this
film, just so I could rate another Hard Vice-quality film.
Katy, I am sad to report that this movie was
actually pretty good. I didn't want to admit it, but it's true.
High school ballet dancer Sara Johnson (Julia Stiles) loses her
mother in a car accident and moves to Chicago where she is enrolled
by her estranged father in a new high school. While at the
all-black, all-attitude school, she meets an intellectual rival in
Derek (Sean Patrick Thomas) and they quickly find a bond: dancing.
Derek gets Sara into hip-hop dancing *and* he helps her re-discover
her ballet roots by getting her to compete for a spot in the
Julliard School of Dance...all while the two of them get to know
each other a little better.
The plot is by-the-numbers but the issues
that this movie covers are not; I was surprised that this movie was
anything more than "Flashdance" and actually hit on a couple of real
social agenda items. It is surprisingly violent given the genre; I
don't mind this but I got the feeling that many of the moms in the
audience did mind. If you like dancing, there is plenty of it here,
and the soundtrack for this movie just barely outdistances the
biggest soundtrack of recent memory,
"Any Given Sunday", in terms of
the number of hip-hop songs you get in the 100-minute movie. I
thought that Stiles was a little wooden emotionally at times (but,
this works in displaying her "whiteness" early in the movie), while
Thomas was very, very good; the second half of the movie is all
them, so you had better fall in with them or you will find yourself
twitching to get out!
Overall, an entertaining movie
experience...until you add the crowd. If you plan to see this movie
(I assume that many of you will see this whether I liked it or not),
I hope you get an audience like the one I got tonight; wow! The
people in my audience were talking to the characters onscreen during
this movie non-stop. Not only that, but all of the club scenes are
30-40% funnier if you have a majority-ghetto audience in your
theater. From the music to the fights to the dance moves to the
hoochies, there is a veritable potpourri of things to make fun of
and a lively audience will catch them all. The theater experience
here is highly recommended!!
Rating: $8.25 Show (with ghetto crowd)
Rating: Matinee (with standard-issue, blasť white crowd)
Comments? Drop me a line at
Bellview Rating System:
"Opening Weekend": This is
the highest rating a movie can receive. Reserved for movies that
exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development,
setting...or Salma Hayek. Not necessarily in that order.
"$X.XX Show": This price
changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently,
it is the $9.50 Show. While not technically perfect, this is a
movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.
"Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca",
but you'll have a great time watching. The $9.50 Show won't win any
Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see
"Matinee": An average movie
that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.
Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about
yourself. A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave
the theater saying "That wasn't too bad...man, did you see that
Lakers game last night?"
"Rental": This rating
indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your
friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one." Mostly forgettable, you
couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to
watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the
video store was out of copies of "Ronin." If you can, see this
movie for free. This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a
"Hard Vice": This rating is
the bottom of the barrel. A movie that only six other human beings
have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen. A Shannon
Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every
one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a
movie. Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or
"Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this
movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!
(Warning: strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard