No Such Nonsense

A little of this, that and... what was I talking about again? It's TV, sports, pop culture and politics - all the stuff that really matters in life.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Dance Fever, the Movie

I may be accused of obsessing a little hard on the dance TV. It's been two posts on So You Think You Can Dance and you just know I'm salivating for Dancing with The Stars. I think it all goes back to my own complete lack of dancing ability. I tried, for years as a little kid to get some sort of connection between my feet and and my head. Never happened. White girl can't dance. Those who can't, watch. Gleefully.

So, in this brief but agonizing interlude between the end of SYTYCD and DWTS, I offer a little cinematic methadone. Here, then, is my list of the Greatest Dance Movies of All Time.

1. Dirty Dancing
You know you can't argue. It's got Swayze. It's got Emily Gilmore and Detective Lenny Briscoe. It's got Jennifer Grey's original nose. It's sweet, nostalgic and, yeah, just a little dirty. It's about that summer love you wanted to believe would last forever, but deep down you knew couldn't. It's number one because nobody puts Baby in a corner.

2. Girls Just Want to have Fun
A controversial pick I know. It's girlie, it's silly and it's cheese-tastic. But it is also fun as hell and I may personally have watched this film 327 times between the ages of 12 and 15. Sarah Jessica Parker and Helen Hunt goof around, kiss some boys and rebel against authority by auditioning for a Dance Fever/MTV hybrid brilliantly called Dance TV. With colourful spandex fashion, melodramatic conflict with a rich-bitch rival and a fresh-faced kid named Shannon Doherty, this movie showed us just how amazing the 80s could be.

3. Footloose
Pissed off that your mom moved you to a hicksville small town in the middle of nowhere? Harassed by the cops, your relatives and the local tough guys? What's a guy to do? Dance, that's what! Dance in abandoned factory with joy and, um, abandon. Then, hook up with the preacher's dirty daughter, teach the local farmhands how to dance, get in a bar fight, put on a prom and, oh hell, you know the story. The pinnacle of the Kevin Bacon ouevre. Seriously - he's never been better. His hair, however, has been better. Oh, and there's SJP again! Who knew?

4. Flashdance
Just your average welder-by-day-stripper-by-night-dreams-of-becoming-a-ballerina fable. I'm not normally one to praise the screenwriting abilities of Joe Eszterhas, but this one balances the sleeze and the story very nicely thank you. There was a dash of controversy when the filmmakers initially tried to conceal that it wasn't really Jennifer Beals dancing, but the movie doesn't suffer a bit. This film also makes Cynthia Rhodes a two-fer on this list, here as Alex's fellow stripper and way up at number one as Swayze's dance partner. My favourite Flashdance story: When casting for Alex, producers had narrowed the field down to just two: Demi Moore and Jennifer Beals. Producers went to a construction site, showed the workers pictures of the two starlets and asked which one they'd rather, um, see dance. Beals, it seems, won. She must be so proud.

5. Fame
I defy you to hear the opening notes of that theme song and not feel the urge to run out into New York City traffic and just get down with your bad self. You can't deny it. Don't even try.

6. Saturday Night Fever
I know, the list is supposed to be the top five. But I couldn't leave this one off the list. The film is famous for the Bee Gees and Travolta's white suit (bought at auction by Gene Siskel, incidentally). But if you haven't seen it, man are you in for a surprise. This is no lighthearted disco romp. Drugs, desperation, rape and death all figure in. But when Travolta hits the floor for that famous dance, you'll be entranced, I promise.

Honourable Mentions: Strictly Ballroom, Save the Last Dance, Pulp Fiction.

No bitching that Grease, Moulin Rouge and Chicago and all those other fancy musicals are missing. Movie's gotta be about dance or feature dance as key plot point. Without rules we have anarchy people!

And while we're at it, here's a bonus:

Worst dance movie ever:

Staying Alive. Oh... good... God. The sequel to Saturday Night Fever. Tony Manero stars in the worst broadway musical of all time. Trust me. I watched it 20 years ago and I'm still not over the pain.


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