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Confessions of a dance flick addict

by Alecia Warren
| November 19, 2010 8:00 PM

When I first saw a preview for "Burlesque," a film opening Thanksgiving that features Christina Aguilera becoming a scantily clad dance star, I turned to my boyfriend and declared: "That movie will probably be terrible. But I'm going to see it anyway."

Why? Because I am a dance flick addict.

I usually need at least a monthly dose of an upbeat, poorly acted film with over-produced dance numbers. I just like to watch nubile people doing fancy stuff with their feet.

So I'd like to ring in the newest dance flick coming out next week with a Coeur d'Alene Press tradition: A dance movie cage match!

Saturday Night Fever vs. Footloose:

"Saturday Night Fever:" A classic with a soundtrack we all want to download off iTunes. But unfortunately, John Travolta's coming-of-age flick drags with grim subplots that ruin all those songs forever. The dance floor antics with so much spandex are tainted by characters prone to threatening suicide and committing sexual assault. And does disco really count as dancing?

"Footloose:" This movie answers the age old question: If you're dancing alone in a warehouse, are you an idiot? The resounding answer is, no. You are, in fact, awesome.

If only all teenagers like Kevin Bacon's character could learn life lessons while still fitting in some serious break dancing. Extra points for featuring a good game of chicken in forklifts. A better classic with an even more awesome soundtrack.

Winner: "Footloose"

Flashdance vs. Dirty Dancing

"Flashdance:" Press City Editor Bill Buley points out a few things that don't make sense (basically the whole movie), like a gorgeous woman who is a welder, dances burlesque on the side, lives in a warehouse and dreams of becoming a ballerina? My head just exploded. Also, how does that small town burlesque house have the funding for so many post-modern sets and costumes? And doesn't anyone have a problem with the welding boss hitting on one of his employees? Surely the union frowns on that.

"Dirty Dancing:" It's hokey. So hokey. That scene where the resort owner chews out Patrick Swayze in his sexy sleeveless top about curbing his reckless, bad boy shenanigans? And by the way, how old is Swayze's character, anyway? 20-ish? 30-ish? Does anyone care that the girl he's seeing is still in high school?

No matter. This is the kind of hokey that goes down so easy. If you're not rooting for Baby to learn the big dance routine in time for the resort's annual performance, you have no soul. It's like a deep fried Twinkie. It's so satisfying, in spite of everything that should make you queasy.

Winner: "Dirty Dancing"

Dance With Me vs. Center Stage

"Dance With Me:" Maybe the plot is a stretch - a big stretch, according to a certain reporter's boyfriend. A Cuban man journeys to Texas to track down his alienated dad, who happens to own a dance studio. Of course, there also happens to be a stunning dance instructor who needs a swarthy guy to remind her that dancing must "come from the music!" Meets the dance flick standard for an overblown finale, this time in the form of an international Latin dance competition.

"Center Stage:" A movie about ballet academy that has a little bit of soap opera and a little bit of romance, but not enough to get in the way of what we're all watching it for - the dancing. It takes the final dance scene to a whole new level, modernizing ballet with some Michael Jackson and a motorcycle on stage.

Winner: "Center Stage"

Take the Lead vs. Shall We Dance?

"Take the Lead:" With Antonio Banderas teaching teens to ballroom dance, this should have been at least cute. But the characters are so cliche it's hard to care whether they make it to the dance competition or join gangs or whatever. And the dance scenes are forgettable, failing a dance flick standard: The dancing should be so mesmerizing, no one should care if there's plot or not.

"Shall We Dance?:" Richard Gere's character tackles a mid-life crisis by taking dance lessons. Unfortunately, his dance scenes are as uninspiring as the guy's schleppy suburban lifestyle. The drama is forced between him and his wife, who is oddly infuriated by his dancing independence. Also, this film confirms everything we already knew from JLo's music videos - she can't dance.

I'll choose a winner randomly: "Take the Lead"

"Footloose" vs. "Take the Lead:" No contest here. "Footloose" wins.

"Dirty Dancing" vs. "Center Stage:" Tough, since "Center Stage" has more dance numbers, and with better performers. But "Dirty Dancing" still wields the indomitable power of the modern day classic.

"Dirty Dancing" Wins.

"Dirty Dancing" vs. "Footloose:" Swayze or Bacon? Both like to sizzle. But as far as meeting the dance flick standards of a cheesy, mega-happy ending, "Dirty Dancing" makes it all the way.

"Dirty Dancing" wins.

There you have it. I guess no one will be too surprised that the best dance flick ever is "Dirty Dancing."

But please, don't let that discourage you from finding an empty warehouse to break dance in if you have a tough day. Or from pursuing ballet if your career as a welder proves unfulfilling.

Alecia Warren is a staff writer for The Press. She can be reached at 664-8176, Ext. 2011, or via e-mail at awarren@cdapress.com.

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