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Movie Review

Save the Last Dance also known as “Pasión y baile Argentina,” “Ao Ritmo do Hip-Hop,” “Bizim dansimiz,” “El último baile,” “Espera al último baile,” “Fylaxe ton teleftaio horo,” “No Balanço do Amor,” “Née pour danser,” “Plešimo zajedno,” “Save the last dance - viimeinen tanssi,” “Szívem érted rapes,” “Zaplešimo zajedno”

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for violence, sexual content, language and brief drug references

Reviewed by: Doug Stuart
CONTRIBUTOR

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Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Teens Adults
Genre:
Music Romance Drama
Length:
1 hr. 52 min.
Year of Release:
2001
USA Release:
January 12, 2001
Copyright, Paramount Pictures click photos to ENLARGE
Relevant Issues
Julia Stiles and Kerry Washington in “Save the Last Dance”

dancing in the Bible

TRUE LOVE—What is true love and how do you know when you have found it? Answer

RACISM—What are the consequences of racial prejudice and false beliefs about the origin of races? Answer

Is interracial marriage biblical?

Racism, Racial Issues and Christianity
Get biblical answers to racial hot-topics. Where did the races come from? How did skin color come about? Why is it important to have a biblical foundation for such issues?
Sex, Love and Relationships
Learn how to make your love the best it can be. Discover biblical answers to questions about sex, marriage, sexual addictions, and more.
Featuring: Julia Stiles, Kerry Washington, Sean Patrick Thomas, Bianca Lawson, Fredro Starr
Director: Thomas Carter
Producer: David Madden, Robert W. Cort
Distributor: Paramount Pictures

“The only person you need to be is yourself.”

Sermon after sermon in youth groups all over the country preach: don’t go to clubs! Stay away from that lifestyle! it’s not worth it! While I agree in most cases, “Save the Last Dance” points out two things in a scenario like this. In one aspect, Sarah is unafraid to walk into an environment she is not used to and communicate with those whom she has nothing in common. And on the other hand, I saw a glimpse of how much we really don’t miss by living that lifestyle.

Sarah is a white girl who grew up in a single-parent home, raised by her mother, whom she was very close to. Ballet was her life, and her mother was there for her all the time. In a sequence of flashbacks, we learn that for a major audition, her mother rushed to be there for her, but was killed in a car accident. After that, ballet brought back bad memories.

Once she moved in with her father in the city, she started attending a mostly-black high school, and fit in fairly quickly, meeting friends who were willing to show her how to dance hip-hop style. Derek and Sarah grow fond of each other throughout the course of the movie, and begin a relationship together.

The offensiveness in the movie was from the sensual dancing and dance club lifestyle that makes up much of our young society together. Profanity was heavy, though not extreme. As in all movies, there are many things to point out that we need to avoid, such as integrity (they get fake ID cards to enter the dance club), honesty (Sarah struggles to be open with Derek), and love (she and her father struggle to learn to live with each other).

Not for young teens, as can make the dance club scene look tempting and desirable. If you can stand the obscenities and understand the cultural change Sarah went through, you will enjoy this wonderful story. If those types of lifestyles are very offensive to you, don’t waste your money. Personally, it was uplifting and thought-provoking.


Viewer Comments
Considering this movie was made in association with MTV Films, I was expecting much worse than what I saw. Yes, Save The Last Dance does have some language, a bit of violence, and suggestive dancing; yet it was honest, thought-provoking, showed integrity and promoted hard work, anti-racism, perseverance and commitment. One thing hypocritical about the film’s message on sex is that on the one side it shows one girl’s harsh reality of pre-marital sex and pregnancy and looking after a child on her own and looks down upon that; yet on the other side Julia Stiles’ character has pre-marital sex with her boyfriend in the movie and that’s portrayed as okay.

Overall, I didn’t appreciate this contradicting message on sex, yet the movie does have some positive worth.
My Ratings: [Average / 3½]
—Luke Wohlgemut, age 20
I really liked this movie, it made me cry. Lets get off the cussing and look at what this movie is really about. A girl lost her mother and therefore lost one of the few things that she loved. The whole interracial conflict is quite evident and gives the otherwise shallow film a more deep and enlightening edge. I would not advise for anyone under the age of 17 to see it due to the mature content that is in the movie. But for an adult who is interested more in teenage behavior, it is a satisfactory film.
My Ratings: [Average / 3½]
—Victoria, age 19
This was not the best movie in the world but it does raise a lot of issues concerning race. Judging how people on other message boards disliked the movie because of the interracial content, racism is alive and well in this country. We need to continue to pray for racial reconciliation in this country.
My Ratings: [Average / 3]
—John T, age 35
This movie did have a lot of swearing, provocative dancing, violence, and various other negative elements. However, I really liked it. I think that the comments listed by the critics at the top take only one point of view into consideration. A lot of that stuff—especially the swearing and the dance—is just part of that “culture,” so to speak. It is reality—that doesn’t justify it morally, but I think it justifies its place in the movie. Also those comments don’t recognize the good aspects of the movie—the actual “morals of the story.”

This movie promoted giving up a street life of fighting, stealing, and dishonesty to pursue education (college and then med school) and healthy relationships. lt promoted overcoming racial boundaries. The main characters, especially Derek, did a lot of resisting peer pressure to do what he knew was right (or to avoid what he knew was wrong), and he encouraged others to do the same. And it showed the consequences of choosing to live more of a streetlife lifestyle instead of pursueing the better things in life. It also demonstrated hard work, dedication, and commitment to friends (both to encourage good choices and to discourage bad) in the face of hardships.

No, you wouldn’t want to take younger children to this movie, but if you can handle the swearing and the dancing it certainly has some good messages.
My Ratings: [Average / 4]
—College Student in Chicago, age 20
My wife and I rarely get out to the movies, being new parents and all. We are very careful about the things we take in visually and can rarely enjoy a decent film. We were quite pleased with the outcome of this movies theme and presentation.

Yes, the language was a bit much at points and the dancing was carnally based, but these things were tollerable in comparison to a lot of what’s out there currently. Besides for watching certain cartoons, and Bible based movies, I actually let myself enjoy this one a little. I don’t recommend it for families, but for mature Christian couples It can be a good date movie.
My Ratings: [Better than Average / 4]
—Hassan, age 24
I really enjoyed this movie. It shows how important it is to be yourself. The dancing was fun to watch and made me want to get up on my feet. The swearing was prevalent but it was to be expected seeing the setting was the inner city. It was definitely a get up and cheer movie.
My Ratings: [Better than Average / 4½]
—Courtney, age 22
For a moment in time, emotions of a person who has always wanted to dance and see racial tensions dissipate were riled and pumped up. This was no Oscar-winning movie, but it did touch upon many human issues that people face daily. From racial tensions to following hearts desires, this movie did well in scraping the surface. When they started to develop any one of the plots… the credits came up. There was a lot of swearing, violence, and sexual implications… but that’s cuz of the hood they were in. This is reality folks no matter how much we want to shut our eyes to it.

It is probably not a movie that you want your child watching. For me, it was a winner because I’ve had to overcome some obstacles of my own and am inspired by hardworking people who want to make it… obviously from a Christian perspective we cannot make it on our own, but only from the grace and the love of Jesus Christ!
My Ratings: [Very Offensive / 3½]
—jammin for Him
Comments from young people
I saw this movie with my best friend, and we both loved it. There were some really cool dance moves, some of which were suggestive but most of which were okay. There was a lot of cussing but when you watch a movie about inner city Chicago what do you expect? I thought the actions and language of the characters in the movie were very true to the setting. I think it was a very positive movie also. There are many times where the main character stands up to the peer pressure of his friends.

Maybe this wasn’t the best movie to see as a Christian, but I think it was a lot better than most movies these days.
My Ratings: [Average / 3]
—Erica, age 16
I thought “Save The Last Dance” was a good movie in the sense that it concentrated on racial issues that most people think are still dead. This movie showed that racial issues and seperations are still out there and real. The whole fact that the couple (Derek and Sarah) are pressured by their family and friends because she is white and he is black is not usually touched on in films of the genre, such as “She’s All That” and “Whatever It Takes” etc.

I’ll agree that the dancing in this movie was sometimes suggestive, but if you can look past that, and the abrasive, profane language that pops up in nearly every scene, you’ll see that “Save The Last Dance” was actually a very good movie with a very good message.
My Ratings: [Average / 3½]
—Chad, age 15
This movie was one of the best movies I have ever seen. I thought it was very well written and touched the hearts of many. Loving to dance, I watched this movie and now it has given me the courage and strength to think about dance at a professional level. This movie had very good dance moves, in which I will be learning just as soon as it comes out on video. I would rate this movie above any of my other favorite movies so out of a ten I would rate it an eleven!!!
—Angie, age 16
…a great movie but there was a lot of language, mainly the s word. There was one f-word and VERY suggestive dancing. The one good thing is that they didn’t use the Lord’s name and that it had good morals. I give in a 4 in a half.
My Ratings: [Average / 4½]
—Lisa, age 13
I really liked this movie. Being Christian it is hard to go to the movies and see a really decent movie. There is language, but that I expected. I was kinda irked when I saw the other comments made by the pro’s, so I decided to give my own honest opinion of the movie. “Save the Last Dance” had a very good moral theme: overcoming stereotypes and racial barriers. I really liked the movie, some may not, but I know I did.
My Ratings: [Better than Average / 4]
—Jessie, age 16
“Save the Last Dance” displays what a toll teen pregnancy takes on a teenage girls life, when Derek’s sister is involved in the plot. Her former boyfriend ignores his child, and Derek’s sister has to deal with it.
My Ratings: [Better than Average / 3]
—supergal, age 15
I went to see this movie with my friends (who were all Christians too) and we loved it. It was exactly what we thought it would be. Although some cussing and stuff like that, a questionable scene where the movie goes black, I think it is overall very good. I would recommend young adults to adults to go see this one. Not younger children.
My Ratings: [Better than Average / 3½]
—Brook, age 16
Movie Critics
…many scenes of sensuous dancing and kissing; some revealing outfits, stripping; underage alcohol use; and, some racial tension and blackmail…
—Dr. Ted Baehr, Movieguide
…Sensual dance moves and an erotic ballet simulate sex…
—Preview Family Movie and TV Review
…One F-word, lots of anatomical references… lots of mild obscenities…
—Kids-in-Mind
…the only pleasure “Save the Last Dance” has to offer is the moment it ends…
—Chuck O'Leary, Tribune-Review of Western Pennsylvania
…This is a formulaic coming of age/teen romance with an MTV spin (MTV co-produced the movie and is promoting it heavily)…
—Nell Minow, Moviemom