I got the opportunity to watch Save the Last Dance with a fresh pair of eyes over the weekend. Previously, I had assumed that everyone who spent 2001 as a teenage girl could quote huge chunks of the movie by heart.
|I mean, for instance.|
I mean, yes, this movie is shamelessly self-indulgent and borderline melodramatic. It has completely unnecessary and sometimes incorrect break-downs of black/hip-hop culture in 2001 - apparently black people never said "cool" back then, but "slammin'"; also, apparently there's an emotional background to every possible dance step in a black man's arsenal. It wraps things up in the same facile way as every teen movie does.
|With a daaaaaance!|
Sara's friend Chenille - CHENILLE - is an interesting female character as well. At first she seems to be the typical Old Hand Who Takes The Protagonist Under Her Wing, a la Mean Girls's Janis Ian, but she ends up having a surprising degree of nuance. She has an ugly baby son with Kenny, and their entire dynamic is the sort you would expect from a real-life teen couple with a son - clumsy, angry, horny, and confused. And she gets the best monologue of the whole movie, when she drops some truth bombs on Sara about the realities of a white woman coming into a black woman's world. (She later retracts the entire thing, which is unfortunate, but she was trippin' off Kenny.)
So no, Save the Last Dance is not perfect. But it tries very hard to be about something more than most teen movies, and that's worth a lot in my book.
|I do frown on its promotion of women dancing alone in alleys, though.|