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Tuesday , December 14, 2010
A Look Back at Dirty Dancing: Some Very Important Things We Failed to Pick Up On at Age 10
Last week, for the first time in at least ten years, I watched Dirty Dancing in its entirety. It's still really good! Frances "Baby" Houseman is one of the toughest teen-movie female leads I can think of; she's brainy and quietly sassy and takes no guff, even at the risk of coming off like a total stick-in-the-mud every now and again. And I dig that they chose pre-nose-job Jennifer Grey instead of having some conventionally hot actress rip off her glasses and let her hair down halfway through the movie. On the contrary, Baby's transformation is impressively subtle; she basically just starts wearing lipstick and doing that thing where you roll up the bottom of your t-shirt and then pull it through your neckline to achieve a rugged, down-home kind of sluttiness. Fierce!
Another thing about Dirty Dancing is it's not very dirty. It took me a while to convince my mom to let me see it, since all moms in the world were sure it was going to be The Raciest Movie Ever and possibly the ruin of every girl who "came of age" in the late '80s. Now it seems pretty sweet and tame, even with all the grinding and talk of "balling" (eww - I'm so glad that word means something else these days). In celebration of the movie's 22nd anniversary, which will take place about three months from now, here's a few more observations on Dirty Dancing:
1. MRS. SCHUMACHER IS SO THE STAR OF THE SHOW
What a little spitfire! Who would've guessed that this itty-bitty giggly grandma was wanted for theft in multiple states? Mrs. Schumacher was actually my number-one inspiration for this post, sort of: A little while back Rich gave her props on an installment of "Pot Psychology", and since then I've been hoping to spill the contents of my handbag all over the place just so I can sigh, "Such junk...such junk...!" Rich's impression is really good, FYI, and you should watch it right now (starting at around 0:28 of the vid below):
2. "NOBODY PUTS BABY IN A CORNER" IS NOT THE MOST QUOTABLE LINE IN THE MOVIE - NOT EVEN CLOSE
Neither is "I carried a watermelon," or "Go back to your playpen...Baby." In general, when quoting mega-popular movies, the more obscure the line, the greater the comedy factor. (For instance, never reference the Bill and Ted movies by shouting, "EXCELLENT!" or "69, dude!" - always go with a delightedly surprised, "I totally possessed my dad!" instead.) So next time you're out with a hot dude and he pulls some crazy stunt on par with bashing open a car window with a log, remember to throw your huge hair back and scream "You're WIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIILD!!!!" Then he will finally like you! Also, refer to all trampy married women as "bungalow bunnies," even if they don't live in bungalows. I myself live in a bungalow, and I promise not to be offended by the notion that all bungalow-dwellers are shameless tarts.
Fun fact: I totally own a "Nobody Puts Baby in a Corner" t-shirt; it's marbley-grey and soooo soft and I wear it around the house so much, my UPS man probably think it's the only shirt in my entire wardrobe. Dirty Dancing t-shirts + yoga pants: the uniform of freelance champions.
3. LISA'S A-OKAY
Yes, we all laugh when she sings her shitty rendition of "Hula Hana of Kamana Whala Hula Bay", and it's so bitchy when she tells Baby: "You wouldn't care if I humped the entire army, as long as they were on the right side of the Ho Chi Minh Trail." But at the end of the day Lisa's got a good heart, and - as I try to convince my little sister whenever we fight about whether or not Sharon Cherski is a big lame-o - that's all that really matters. I'm glad she didn't lose it to Robbie the Creep, and I hope she and Billy ended up getting together and opening up a divey beach bar on the Jersey Shore, or something. I also really dig the part when she goes, "Where is my beige IRIDESCENT LIPSTICK??!" because (a) I'm so the type of girl who's always losing stuff and then going all aggro-whiny on everybody when I can't find it, and (b) beige iridescent lipstick actually sounds kind of awesome.
4. THIS IS DEFINITELY THE WORST PART
Actually, I totally knew that when I was 10. Note to Johnny Castle: "Guh-goon" is not what a heartbeat sounds like. It's more of a "lub-dub."
5. POINTING IS HOT, SOMEHOW
There's at least three moments in Dirty Dancing when Johnny points at Baby and gives her that one-finger "come hither" gesture, all the while smiling demonically like he's going to murder her. It's weird, but kinda hot. Incidentally, the dancing-on-the-log bit is maybe my favorite Johnny-Baby scene, mostly because it's the only part when they're just chill-ly enjoying each other's company instead of being all oppressed by society and shit. I think when I was little I assumed something like the dancing-on-the-log scene would happen to me when I grew up. I probably also thought I'd end up spending some summer afternoon practicing lifts in the lake with my boyfriend. Neither ever actually came to pass, but there's still time.
6. I WISH PEOPLE DANCED LIKE THIS MORE OFTEN