Dirty Dancing

From the Chicago Reader in late 1987. — J.R.

A rather novel Flashdance spin-off, this coming-of-age dancing romance (1987) is set in a Catskills resort during the summer of 1963. What sets it apart from others of its ilk is that some of the leads — notably Jennifer Grey, who achieves her apotheosis by learning the mambo, and Jerry Orbach — actually resemble real people rather than actors. The plot hinges on class differences between resort customers and staff members (dirty dancing is what the latter do at their own parties), and before the movie collapses into the utopian nonsense that seems obligatory to this subgenre, a surprising amount of sensitivity and satirical insight emerges from Eleanor Bergstein’s script and Emile Ardolino’s direction. There’s also a memorable use of the resort location, and while the music on the soundtrack is predictably overloud, the period detail is refreshingly soft-pedaled. PG-13, 97 min. (JR)

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