C'mon, who's with me?! Who's excited about this movie and this movie?!
Yeah, I thought so.
I would be ashamed to admit to it, if I didn't enjoy them so much.... but I am completely enraptured by the whole dance/cheerleader/gymnastics movie genre. I suppose you could group all of the dance movies together and stop there, but the others follow the same format (lovable losers persevere through music, dance, and spirit), so they can be safely lumped together. I heart these movies Big Time, and I always have. Funny thing is I am not now nor have ever been a dancer, cheerleader, or a gymnast. I couldn't cha-cha, liberty stand, or cartwheel my way out of a wet paper sack. I have no idea where this fascination comes from. There are certain technicolor musicals that I always stop and watch if I happen to be flipping past TCM. I even own a couple on DVD. The classic musicals are great - I could watch "Singing in the Rain" a thousand times and never get sick of it - but this post is about the performance movies where the plot revolves around the dancing or cheering itself. Not the movies that follow the standard "boy meets girl, boy falls in love with girl, boy spontaneously breaks out in song about the girl in the middle of a busy street and nobody calls the local doctor for a shot of lithium" story line.
My appreciation started back in the 70's with Saturday Night Fever. Legendary music tracks and a thin plot line about a guy with nothing but a dream and some hot dance moves. Was there even dialogue in that movie? With the exception of the whole "He hit my hai-ah" scene I don't really remember what that movie was all about. But I remember the white suit, the pull-it-from-the-hip dance move, "More than a Woman" and "How Deep is your Love". And, of course, the indelible "Stayin' Alive" (the song).
Whether you're a brother or whether you're a mother,
You're stayin' alive, stayin' alive.
Feel the city breakin' and everybody shakin',
And we're stayin' alive, stayin' alive
Me! They were talking to me! I wasn't a brother or a mother, but I knew they just ran out of room in the song to include "whether you're a six year old white girl with knobby knees and no rhythm, You're stayin' alive, stayin' alive". I had (have) two left feet but I could shake it just as well as any other 1st grader.
In the 80's it was Footloose, Flashdance and Fame. I wanted to rip my sweatshirt, wear nasty toe shoes and dance in a grain packaging factory. Oh, the dance movies of the 80's! Stayin' Alive (the movie) was pure genius disguised as a bad excuse to showcase John Travolta's dancing prowess and sweaty chest. And Chorus Line! Let me dance for you! Gah! Okay, technically a musical but it was about dancing.
Then the breakdancing movies: Beat Street, Breakin' and Breakin' 2. Yes, the movie that introduced the word "Boogaloo" into my vocabulary.
Also in the 80's we got a taste of the gymnastics phenomenon: Gymkata, and, one of my all time favorites - American Anthem. The bad acting, the cheesy congratulatory hand slap thing they did (I can't even find the words to describe it, you had to see it to appreciate it). Mitch Gaylord. I don't know who gave him permission to act but he was a smokin' little number.
But wait! I'm not done! In '87 we got the mother of all dance flicks - Dirty Dancing!
Nobody puts Baby in a corner.
Tell me you weren't a little hot for Patrick Swayze's Johnny Castle. Liar. I can recite, verbatim, every line from the cottage scene when Baby runs to Johnny and they end up dancing, and groping, and then more dancing - horizontally and vertically. That was a bad description, but you've seen the movie so you know what I mean.
"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."
Oooh, I just got the shivers.
This movie had all the heavy hitters: The Swayz-man, Jennifer Grey before the nose job debacle, Jerry Orbach (I miss him), and Cynthia Rhodes... Mrs. Richard Marx! And the music from the movie was so infectious they released not one, but TWO soundtracks. Phenomenal.
Then the 90's came along and Hollywood tried, they really did, to keep the magic happening. They gave us The Forbidden Dance. Remember? The Lambada movie? No, the one that didn't have Jennifer Lopez in it. That was called, simply, Lambada. The Forbidden Dance was about dancing and saving the rain forest. Oy. Some were truly bad, but some were surprisingly watchable. Like Dance with Me with Vanessa Williams and Chayanne (who?), Kris Kristofferson and Jane Kraskowski (I'm pretty sure it was shot before "Ally McBeal" took off). I could watch that movie over and over... And I have.
Oh yeah, can't forget Strictly Ballroom. Gotta love Baz.
In this current decade the dance movies started to dry up: There was Center Stage, yet another movie I watch over and over much to the chagrin of the Hubby. I'm not even going to talk about Honey because Jessica Alba is so perfect looking she makes me want to puke. I know it was about dancing but Save the Last Dance just didn't cut it for me. So, Hollywood trotted out the cheerleading movies: Bring it On and Bring it On 2. Yaaay Cheerleading Movies! Spirit Fingers. That didn't last long because soon after we got the highly entertaining documentary Mad Hot Ballroom, lending some credibility to the genre and destroying the guilty pleasure.
That is, until Take the Lead and Stick it. I'm giggling just thinking about that title - Stick it. Could they be any more obvious? I wouldn't be caught dead watching either of these movies in the theater. A girl's got to have her standards. But in a couple of months you can find me camped out on my couch ordering one or both of these mental marshmallows on pay-per-view and watching with a satisfied smile on my face. Cinematic prozac.
I've really got to get out more.