Save the Last Dance
What was once a white, middle-class nightmare has apparently become a fantasy film.
Didn't we learn from the Lambada craze that dance movies are just disasters waiting to happen? This thing is basically "Billy Elliot" all over again except instead of not being a girl, Julia Stiles is not black. When will it all end? After her mother dies, Sara (Julia Stiles) moves to Chicago, and -- OH MY GOD -- moves into a slum and has to go to a high school with lots of black kids. In order to fit in, she has to learn how to dance hip hop. What was once a white, middle-class nightmare has apparently become a fantasy film. Is that a good thing or a bad thing?
Fortunately for Sara, one of the nice black guys, Derek (Sean Patrick Thomas), wants to get in her pants and so he teaches her how to dance hip hop. Let's not forget, this is a high school kid, so for all his overtures to friendship and goodwill, what the poor guy really needs is to get laid. Fortunately for Sara, she not only learns the moves, but rediscovers her love of dancing in general which leads her to trying out for Juilliard. Naturally, she gets into Juilliard because if she didn't the film would just go on forever. Oh yeah, and Derek gets laid.
The final scene is so stupid, it's almost beyond compare. Derek runs halfway across Chicago (probably because he thinks he's got a shot at getting laid again) and shows up just in time to see Sara perform her modern composition which, of course, includes lots of hip hop elements. Derek runs up on stage to egg her on while the demonic Juilliard judge hounds Sara mercilessly. However, once Sara gets into it, all the judges start smiling and the director, Thomas Carter, stoops to a panning shot of the judges' faces as they all break out in smiles, even the demonic judge. It just makes you want to stand up and cheer, don't it?
Though this film raises some interracial dating issues, its attempt to explain Derek's and Sara's relationship away with the "you love who you love" thesis is rather pathetic. Why does Derek go for the one cute white girl who happens to show up? Could it possibly be because the warped image of beauty projected by the media -- anorexic and white, no exceptions -- is so powerful that even young black men are overcome by it? Is there a perception that success is a white virtue and failure a black virtue? This cliché-riddled film would certainly seem to promote those disturbing ideas.
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