Thursday, April 20, 2006

When I said I needed a hobby this was not what I had in mind

C'mon, who's with me?! Who's excited about this movie and this movie?!


Just me?

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.


Her Bad Mother said...

Somebody should publish that ode to the American Dance Movie - I'd forgotten so many of them, and would not have even thought of it as a genre, before this eloquent and passionate post.

My one quibble. Patrick Swayze. Never liked him. Yuck. Still liked Dirty Dancing, though. Too bad about Jennifer Grey's nose though.

Stacy said...

Ok I sooo wish we could go together. How funny is this though ~ I work at a gymnastics facility for kids and my boss just told me today that she wants to take everyone to see Stick It. I'm psyched!! Can't wait! Glad to see we have the same taste in movies.

Beth said...

OHMIGOSH!!!! All I read was the first line of your post, about "Take The Lead" and "Stick It" and I had to comment. I am SO SO SO SO SO excited about "Stick It." My sister and I have already decided to see it when it comes out, and my other sister (who lives in VA, sob sob) is going to see it to. She's a major gymnastics/cheerleading movie freak. Okay, I am too.

Alright, I'm going to go read the rest of the post now. I might be back.

Blog Antagonist said...

All those movies you listed rawk. But, I loved "Shall we Dance", too, despite Jennifer Lopez, so, take that into account.

I have to add the skating movies to the list. "Ice Castles" anyone? Oh, my God. I think I was 9 when it came out, and in my mind, it was cinema verite baby. It was so damned tragic!! SNIFF I wanted Robbie Benson in a baaaaaaad way. Funny, cause I had no idea what I would actually do with him.

Then there was "The Cutting Edge" with D.B Sweeney and Moira Kelly. I loved it when he dropped her on her snooty ass. But I loved it just as much when he finally kissed the bitch. SIGH.

Okay, sorry, didn't mean to bogart your movie nostalgia. I like the term "mental marshmallows". Very apt analogy.

Beth said...

Okay, I'm back. I am so going to see both of those movies in the theater. I HAVE NO SHAME!!!

I also really liked "Shall We Dance," the one with Richard Gere. I know it's not a teeny-bopper movie, but it was good.

I'm so glad my sisters and I aren't the only adults who love movies like this.

Oh, and one cheerleading movie you might not want to watch with your husbands grandmother (like I did) is "But I'm a Cheerleader." Yeah, look it up on IMDb. Luckily, The Hubster's grandma is kewl.

Anonymous said...

You crack me up! I like a lot of that stuff, too. I love those old musicals. My daughter grooves on them, too. I'm just awed by the choreography, really.

And SNF is awesome for it's camp factor, in addition to the great music and dancing. What about when JT is in his black speedo underwear looking in the mirror saying "Aaaaaaal Pacino...Attica! Attica!" I love that part.

Sandra said...

LOVE it! Not sure I can talk my man into seeing that flick with me but I was nodding like a mad woman in agreement with all your favs. I too couldn't dance to save my life but for some reason have no trouble imagining myself in any of those movies. I am also a big fan of the oldie dance movies too.

Anonymous said...

Ha! Great post.

I think I played the 'Saturday Night Fever' soundtrack over and over until I wore out the grooves.

And, hey, I think I remember hearing that if you played the record BACKWARDS you'll actually hear some lyrics about a little white girl...

Kimi said...

I am so with you on this. My sister has already said how much we love these movies (that would be Beth and I'd be the one in Va, sniff sniff). There are a bunch of movies that I am now putting on my netflix after reading your post. I must relive it all. I went and saw Take the Lead in the theaters (sooo good) and I will go see Stick it! too. Movies are my guilty pleasure and my "ME TIME". Thanks for leetting us all know we're not alone in this 'condition'. I the only one who likes to watch cheer competitions on TV if they're on?

Anonymous said...

I am looking forward to Take The Lead too!

It looks like a cross between Lean On Me and oh I don't know what dance movie, but cool none the less :)

Chicky Chicky Baby said...

Well, obviously I've got some movie renting to do this weekend since I have yet to see "Shall We Dance". I will view it and decide then if it belongs on the list.

BA - I never even thought about adding the skating movies to this list. I lurve "The Cutting Edge". Toe pick! BTW, you can bogart any time you want.

Beth - Glad I didn't scare you off after you read the entire post! And thanks for bringing your sister (Hi!), its like a family reunion in my blog.

Christina said...

OK, you just outed my secret love. I'm also a big fan of those movies. Loved Dirty Dancing - tried to mimic the dance moves when I was younger. And I loved Strictly Ballroom.

ms blue said...

These movies get my estrogen flowing! Your post made me relive my teenage years. Fantastic!

I'm going to be belting out "Almost Paradise" all day long.

The Domesticator said...

OK, I am so behind on pop culture, I never even HEARD of those two new movies...AHHH! I'm with you on the dance movies. I'm a closet Dirty Dancing and Footloose watcher. If they are on cable re-runs, I watch them...over and over and over....

Anonymous said...

As a dancer meself, I love me some dancing movies... What was that Japanese one on ballroom dancing? (LOVED IT... so much I can't remember the name... I know).

Anyway, I love the new look, BTW. And alas, I suck with HTML and cannot help you with that.

Julie Marsh said...

I did have the hots for Kevin Bacon, but by the time Patrick Swayze was the man of the hour, I only liked punk rockers.

I've heard so many radio ads for "Stick It" - fave cheesy line so far: "It's not gym-nice-tics!"

Gina said...

I kept reading and reading and said to myself, "she better mention Strictly Ballroom"... that one is the best!!!! Thanks for mentioning it! I "lurve" these kinds of movies too!

Anonymous said...

Ooooh, Dirty Dancing. I remember seeing it in the theaters when it came out, having no idea what it was about, coming out having seen one of my favorite movies of all time. I own it on DVD, but nothing is better than just flipping the channels and finding it on somewhere. Oh, when Baby and Johnny sneak away in the rain to practice the dance routine? EGADS!

MrsFortune said...

Oh oh oh oh oh ... I am practically salivating over "Stick It." Although for me it's more about "teen films" than it is dance/gymnastics.

Confession (and you'll probably hate me after this) I have never seen Dirty Dancing all the way through. I mean, I've seen the entire movie in bits and pieces but have never watached it all the way through.

Anonymous said...

I love love love Center Stage. It's sad, but so true.
Bring It On? Loved it. Made my poor husband watch it with me.
Not dancing, but I'm obsessed with movie The Cutting Edge--"Toe Pick" skating is sort of dancing right?

Bobita said...

Can I come over and watch with you? I'll bring popcorn and fudge!

Amy said...

I loved Footloose and Dirty Dancing.....such fond memories of seeing both of those in the theater! And sneaking wine coolers in to see Dirty Dancing my freshman year of college! I like the cheerleading movies, too, even though I never cared much for cheerleaders and never was one myself.

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