Save the Last Dance
|Save the Last Dance|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Thomas Carter|
|Produced by||Robert W. Cort
|Screenplay by||Duane Adler
|Story by||Duane Adler|
Sean Patrick Thomas
|Music by||Mark Isham|
|Edited by||Peter Berger
|Distributed by||Paramount Pictures|
|January 12, 2001|
|Box office||$131.7 million|
Save the Last Dance is a 2001 American dance film produced by MTV Films, directed by Thomas Carter and released by Paramount Pictures on January 12, 2001. The film stars Julia Stiles and Sean Patrick Thomas as a teenage interracial couple in Chicago who work together to help the main character, played by Stiles, train for a dance audition. A direct-to-video sequel, Save the Last Dance 2, was released in 2006.
Sara Johnson, a promising dancer in high school, hopes to be admitted to study at Juilliard School and invites her mother to attend the audition. She fails the audition and soon learns that her mother was involved in a fatal car accident in her haste to get to the audition.
Sara is wracked by guilt and gives up on ballet. She moves in with her estranged father and transfers to an urban Chicago school. At her new school, Sara is one of a handful of white students but quickly befriends Chenille, a single teen mother who is having relationship problems. Chenille invites Sara to a dance club called STEPPS, where she has her first experience of dancing to hip hop rhythms. At STEPPS, Sara dances with Derek, Chenille's brother and a student with dreams of ultimately attending Georgetown Medical School. He decides to help Sara develop her dancing skills by incorporating more hip hop into her style. Derek takes a reluctant Sara to the Joffrey Ballet and, afterwards, Sara confides in him about her mother and her dreams. Later, they return to the club and amaze others with their dancing. Having achieved his dream of being accepted at Georgetown University, Derek convinces her to follow her dreams of Juilliard. Eventually, Sara and Derek begin a relationship.
At school, Nikki, Derek's jealous ex-girlfriend, picks a fight with Sara. Chenille tells Sara that she didn't approve of the fight but can understand the bitterness since Sara, a white girl, is seen as stealing one of the few half-decent black men in the school. Because of this, Sara breaks up with Derek. Meanwhile, Derek deals with his friend Malakai, who is heavily into the gang lifestyle that Derek is trying to leave. Derek accepts Malakai's plea for support in a drive-by for the same time as Sara's audition. Sara's father has a heart-to-heart talk with her and encourages her to audition for Juilliard again.
After hearing what Chenille told Sara, Derek confronts her. She admits what she did was wrong and encourages him to be with Sara. Chenille also warns Derek not to support Malakai knowing the consequences and he will lose his chance to attend Georgetown. Derek turns his back on Malakai to attend Sara's audition. He arrives at a crucial point to offer her encouragement and moral support. After her audition, Sara is accepted and she rekindles her relationship with Derek. Meanwhile, the drive-by becomes botched and Malakai is arrested. The film closes as Sara, Derek, Chenille, and their friends meet at STEPPS to celebrate Sara's successful audition.
- Julia Stiles as Sara Johnson
- Terry Kinney as Roy Johnson
- Sean Patrick Thomas as Derek Reynolds
- Kerry Washington as Chenille Reynolds
- Fredro Starr as Malakai
- Bianca Lawson as Nikki
- Vince Green as Snookie
- Garland Whitt as Kenny
- Sam Sarpong
- Esengül Ayyildiz as Girl dancing in the club
Lighting for the dance sequences was composed by Internationally recognized dance lighting designer Kevin Dreyer.
Box office and reception
The film debuted at #1 at the North American box office making $27.5 million in its opening weekend. Though the film had a 44% decline in earnings the following weekend, it was still enough to keep the film at the top spot for another week.
The film was a surprise success in theaters especially with the teenage female audience, and is regarded as having two of the best breakthrough performances for its leading actors, Stiles, and especially Thomas. It was a financial success as well, with box-office earnings of $91,057,006 in the US alone and more than $130 million mark worldwide.
Save the Last Dance was also successful at a number of movie awards, most notably:
- The 2001 MTV Movie Awards, winning in the category "Best Kiss" for Julia Stiles and Sean Patrick Thomas, who also won "Breakthrough Male Performance"; and being nominated for "Best Female Performance" for Julia Stiles and "Best Dance Sequence" for a scene in the hip hop club
- The 2001 Teen Choice Awards, winning in the categories "Film — Choice Actress" for Julia Stiles, "Film — Choice Breakout Performance" for Kerry Washington and "Film — Choice Fight Scene" for Julia Stiles and Bianca Lawson; and being nominated as best "Film — Choice Drama"
- The 2001 Young Hollywood Awards, winning in the category "Standout Performance — Male" for Sean Patrick Thomas
- It was also nominated for the 2002 Black Reel Awards in the category "Theatrical — Best Supporting Actress" for Kerry Washington and the 2002 Golden Reel Awards in the category "Best Sound Editing — Music, Musical Feature Film" for the music editor Michael T. Ryan.
Despite these awards, the movie received mixed reviews. Rotten Tomatoes' rating assesses the film as "Rotten," with a 53% rating, and summarizes the critical consensus as "This teen romance flick feels like a predictable rehashing of other movies." Some of the reviews marked "fresh" are measured in their enthusiasm, with remarks such as, "Look elsewhere for reality or good drama. Look here, however, if you're in the mood for a good heaping of fantasy and some fun"; "a decent, well-put-together romantic drama to hold hands to on the weekend"; and "A sometimes predictable, but mostly enjoyable tale." Salon's reviewer called the film "a bad, friendly, enjoyable movie," observing that "for all its dumb clichés it offers the basic appeal of teen movies: the pleasure of watching kids be kids, acting as they do among themselves instead of how parents and teachers expect them to act." Roger Ebert rated it three stars out of four, stating that "the setup promises cliches, but the development is intelligent, the characters are more complicated than we expect, and the ending doesn't tie everything up in a predictable way."
|2000||Save the Last Dance
- Dirty Dancing, a 1987 film which starred Patrick Swayze, a performer from the Joffrey Ballet
- Dance Flick, a 2009 spoof film which starred Damon Wayans, Jr., and Shoshana Bush
- Save the Last Dance (2001), Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2009-07-12.
- Charles Taylor. "Save the Last Dance" (review), Salon, January 12, 2001. Retrieved 2007-12-30.
- Roger Ebert, Save The Last Dance, Chicago Sun Times, 2001-01-12
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