Opposites collide as white suburbia meet black inner city and ballet meets hip-hop in Save the Last Dance, a chick flick that knows how to dance, just not that well.
Julia Stiles stars as a young woman who moves to the inner city after her mother is killed in a car crash. Her ballet behind her, she begins to adapt to her new life and ends up falling for the local heartthrob and genius, played by Sean Patrick Thomas. As their interracial relationship gets pressurized and she begins to learn new dance moves, she is drawn back into ballet and forced to confront what she's been running from.
Save the Last Dance is a worthwhile movie but at the same time not the greatest, as it has a lot of flaws and flaunts them. The biggest drawback is the dialogue, which is just plain out bad. A lot of the script has very concise lines that often end scenes (which makes them seem unfinished), and a lot of those lines also seem like they are trying to be sarcastic, but aren't in reality. At one point I tried writing a comedy and a lot of the humor contained sarcasm, and I realized that my script sucked. I scrapped it. Save the Last Dance's script didn't need scrapping, but it did need a major overhaul.
The acting doesn't help, either. Sean Patrick Thomas does a good job as the guy torn between love, education, a future, and his lifelong pal who is knee deep in crime. We get to see a lot of mixed emotions from him and he turns out to be the best character of the film. Stiles, on the other hand, has shown that she can act at times, but shows here that for the most part she really won't rise beyond the teenage romance films. As bad as the dialogue is in the script, she makes it worse, and I wasn't overly impressed by the more dramatic scenes where she gets to cry. Her character also has flaws. Right off the bat she fits in really great and seems to disregard and ignore any fact that she is a little different from the rest of the school, yet later on in the film she immediately reverses her position when someone tells her that she doesn't really fit in. She wasn't listening up to that point - why now?
I would have liked to see more development with Stiles and her on-screen father, as well as a deeper look into the relationship with her mother (maybe a longer prelude, before her mother died).
Again, I did like Sean Patrick Thomas and the element of him being accepted to a good school yet still being an inner city guy. He's smart yet he still will step across the line to protect his friend. This was the best part of the film.
The ending is very disappointing. It's about as stereotypical as it comes and might even be worse, since there are so many unrealistic things happening at once. Just try to pick them out.
Save the Last Dance is a decent film and a decent chick flick, but it's probably a rental. If it had worked a little more on its moves it couldn't have been a lot better.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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