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SAVE THE LAST DANCE (PG-13)
Paramount
Offical website
Director: Thomas Carter
Producers: Marie Cantin, Robert W. Cort, Douglas Curtis and David Madden
Written by: Duane Adler and Cheryl Edwards
Cast: Julia Stiles, Sean Patrick Thomas, Kerry Washington, Fredro Starr, Terry Kinney and Bianca Lawson

Rating: out of 5


SAVE THE LAST DANCE won’t win any Oscars. Not even any Golden Globes. But I can practically guarantee you that it will take home at least one MTV Movie Award. Why? Because it’s a film made by MTV, starring young actors popular with MTV audiences, and most importantly, because SAVE THE LAST DANCE is meant to be a film that caters to the current MTV generation. If you’re over 25, I wouldn’t bother.

While I generally liked the film and found it entertaining, it definitely will not be long remembered nor make my best-of-the-teen-movie list. However, my 14-year-old little sister will adore it. Which means all involved in marketing, advertising, promotion and everything in between have done their jobs very well.

With the huge swell in popularity of hip-hop (music, dance and lifestyle) lately, the timing of SAVE THE LAST DANCE is perfect. The plot centers on former ballerina Sara Johnson (Stiles), who moves to the slums of Chicago to live with her shiftless musician father. Immediately confronting Sara is the fact that she seems to be the only white person in her entire high school and everyone is letting her know it. Luckily, she quickly befriends Derek and Chenille (Thomas and Washington), a brother and sister duo chock full of intelligence and independence.

What follows is kind of a ghetto version of DIRTY DANCING, but instead of class tensions like Baby and Johnny have, Derek and Sara have racial tensions. The basic story is the same though. Girl can’t dance; boy teaches girl to dance; boy and girl fall in love to the dismay of everyone around them. All set to a great hip-hop and R&B soundtrack (featuring the new song “Crazy” by K-Ci and Jo-Jo), instead of DIRTY DANCING’s nostalgia-inducing ’50s music.

The plot may be somewhat formulaic and tired, but for the type of movie that SAVE THE LAST DANCE is, this doesn’t matter all that much. What does matter is a good- looking, up-and-coming, recognizable cast, a good soundtrack and enough scenes of conflict to balance out the lovey-dovey scenes so that boyfriends won’t mind being dragged to this one by their girls.

SAVE THE LAST DANCE may never win any major awards, but it will win over the hearts of countless teenage girls. And after all, that was the objective in the first place.

—Renae Bolen

hybridCinema Ratings Guide:

Take a pal and pay full price for both tickets.

It’s worth a full-price ticket.

It’s worth a matinee ticket.

Wait for video rental.

Check out the video from the library, if you must.

While we would never encourage anyone to destroy a video...


Mike Doughty



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