Volume 94, Issue 65
Thursday, January 18, 2001
|ARTS AND ENTERTAINMENT
I'll just stand over here, thanks
Photo By Michael Tackett
THE HUMPTY DANCE IS YOUR CHANCE TO DO THE HUMP. Julia Stiles and Sean Patrick Thomas get funky in Save The Last Dance.
Save The Last Dance
Starring: Julia Stiles, Sean Patrick Thomas
Directed By: Thomas Carter
By Tara Dermastja
As with most Hollywood waltzes today, this dance is nothing new.
Save The Last Dance is an unnecessary adventure into the world of stereotypes and a great practice in fidgeting. Just as Centre Stage attempted to open audiences to the competitive edge of ballet, Thomas Carter's film introduces the talents of hip hop. Yet it never makes it past the first two steps, leaving audiences to wonder why they didn't learn their lesson the first time around.
The story, when there is one, is a basic one. Sara (Julia Stiles) is a ballerina from middle-income America who is suddenly thrust into the core of Chicago's ghetto hip hop culture. Needless to say, she finds herself a little out of her element. Still, with the help of some new friends, Derek (Sean Patrick Thomas) and Chenille (Kerry Washington) (a brother-sister duo who apparently are the only good-hearted people in the entire school), Sara gets a cram session in mastering the right groove and rediscovers herself.
Aside from spurts of character development, a large majority of the movie is spent watching teenagers bump and grind, which, despite what one might believe, is better than actually trying to find the plot. Carter's attempts at addressing issues like inter-racial dating and gang life, are admirable. However, the flick falls short in convincing viewers that always doing the right thing will make other problems go away. And this movie has many problems.
The acting is forced, the plot is weak and the characters seem to have come straight out of the stereotype handbook. There's a talented, beautiful dancer, with a cute, college-bound romantic interest, and a new best friend who's "cool" with just about everyone. Add in the guy fresh out of juvenile detention, who's ready to cause some more trouble, a jealous ex, and the movie's set for a first-class ticket out of theatres and onto video-store shelves.
One of the few successful qualities of Save The Last Dance is Fatima's unique and exciting choreography, which lends a brief moment of entertainment to almost two hours of boredom. But it's not enough. Stiles, adorable in previous teeny-bopper films, just can't seem to hold her own when it comes to taking the lead. Her reactions are rehearsed and her lines are not quite believable. Thomas and Washington steal the spotlight in every scene with their raw charm and innocence, as the rest of the actors blend into a collage of uninteresting faces.
While the movie's soundtrack might be the remaining saviour thanks to a few "slammin'" tunes, as an overall package, Save The Last Dance will undoubtedly find itself overlooked at the box office. Then again, with all those slumber parties the younger "tweenie" generation like to have, it just might find salvation as a Friday night chick flick.
Copyright © The Gazette 2000