There is a movie that cures all ills in the world for me, even if temporarily. This film cheers me up when I don't feel well, when I am stressed to the hilt, when I am bored, when I go through a breakup and even when my husband and I live in different states and I am suddenly a single mom. This film has the perfect combination of a deeply moving plot, glorious cinematography, inspiration for life, and whimsical nostalgia for my youth. This movie is quite simply all that I aspire to be.
And the esteemed film is: Dirty Dancing starring Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey.
What exactly do I love about it?
1. I love that Johnny (Patrick Swayze) is both cheesy and sexy in the perfect combo of manliness and dopiness. Generally macho guys leave me cold but Johnny Castle: hubba hubba.
2. I love the music. This soundtrack was one of the first cassettes of my very own that I played relentlessly on my tiny tape player in my bedroom. Even the songs performed by Patrick Swayze. (Did you know that Patrick Swayze was almost cast as Danny in Grease?!) Admit it: As you read this post, specific songs are playing in your head as you imagine the scene. You know it's true!
3. Fine Dancing Moment #1) I love when "Baby" is walking home from "dance practice" with Johnny and dances to "Wipeout" on the stairs. That is exactly how I dance.
4. Excellent Movie Dialogue Moment #1) "Me? I'm scared of everything. I'm scared of what I saw. I'm scared of what I did, of who I am. And most of all... I'm scared of walking out of this room and never feeling the rest of my whole life, the way I feel when I'm with you!" (Awww. How sweet and real is that? The purity and innocence. Especially knowing that immediately afterward she goes and gets herself de-virginated. The perfect justification, no?)
5. I love Jerry Orbach.
6. Fine Dancing Moment #2) I love it when Baby and Johnny go to The Drake to perform and she chickens out on the lift move and makes up an improptu hand gesture instead. A hand gesture instead of a dramatic lift. I'm sure no one will notice. (This movie moment also always makes me think of my friend, Patrick in Buffalo, who does the best Baby Misses Her Lift impression ever seen. I am chortling right now just thinking of it. Aww Patrick. I miss you.)
7. I love the way this movie reminds you of what it really feels like to be a teenager. Now that I am slowly sinking into the world of Mom-itude it feel good to remember how backward and clueless my parents seemed (sorry mom) and how my need to go out and makeout with stupid guys and drink crappy beer seemed so reasonable. I don't have teenaged children so I am right in the center of the emotions of this film. On the one hand, yes, teenagers are real people with real needs and desires and raging hormones. But on the other, parents need to guide them. I should watch this movie with my daughters once a month from puberty through age 21. Does that seem too long? Regardless, I will always totally relate to Baby.
8. Excellent Movie Dialogue Moment #2) Penny: "Go back to your playpen, Baby."
9. I love the chemistry between Baby and Johnny. I saw on E! that Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey met while filming Red Dawn and they HATED each other. I think that actually translated as perfect chemistry on the screen. He is so rude to her and she just tries sooo hard. Love it!
10. Fine Dancing Moment #3) When they first meet, Johnny tries to teach Baby the basic niceties of dirty dancing. She is a total clod. He keeps trying until the music stops as the song ends. She continues dancing jerkily and alone. Oh, the horror! Yes folks, that is me on the dance floor.
11. I love love love the scene where they are practicing the sexy breast-stroke in their dance number and Baby alternates between giggling uncontrollably as his hand grazes her boob and melting into him as she stops freaking out and gets all hubba hubba. That is like porn for me. (Sigh. I miss my husband. No more talking about sexy Dirty Dancing moments.)
12. The Ultimate Excellent Movie Dialogue Moment: "I carried a watermelon." Baby says this stupidly and out of the blue when she is first introduced to the stud, Johnny. Then immediately afterward she snerks to herself, "I carried a watermelon?!" Oh, isn't that just the way it always is. Realizing you have said something supremely stupid 30 seconds too late. I watch this movie just for this scene because it tickles me so. When ever I see a watermelon I must repeat that line. Produce clerks think I am nuts.
Interestingly, the AFI recently published this list of the top 100 Memorable Movie Lines and Dirty Dancing made the list at #98. Sadly, it is NOT the best line from this movie, since "I carried a watermelon" clearly IS. But the folks at AFI are almost certainly fuddy duddies and I'm surprised they have even heard of Dirty Dancing, since their taste seems to run pretty old school. I've never heard of some of their movies or quotes for that matter. Perhaps we should begin a new and more *hip* version of the Memorable Movie Quote list, filled mostly with Terrantino and Will Farrell quotes. I mean seriously, give me: "That is some fucked up repugnant shit" over "You had me at 'hello' " any day! But I'll save that list (You can help if you want. Send me your favorites.) for another day.