Save the Last Dance (2001)

Genres - Drama, Romance  |   Sub-Genres - Dance Film, Musical Drama, Romantic Drama, Teen Movie  |   Release Date - Jan 12, 2001 (USA)  |   Run Time - 112 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - PG13
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Review by Andrea LeVasseur

This slick teen romance is standard formulaic fare from MTV Films with a cliché story and likable leads. A squeaky-clean tale of an interracial couple, this movie is an example of marketing to kids with a combination of pop music, dance, and romance. At least it benefits from the acting abilities of the two stars, Julia Stiles as Sara and Sean Patrick Thomas as Derek. The romance is convincing and appealing throughout their courtship of dance lessons, and that is good enough. Unfortunately, the inner city that suburban princess Sara must adjust to is laughably fabricated, like a freshly painted Disneyland version of a slum. This lightweight approach works to keep the events on the surface just enough to dish out the racial-equality message without getting too dramatic about it. Director Thomas Carter (Swing Kids) tries real hard to convey this message, especially during the inevitable dance-sequence conclusion. To drive the point home, Sara's hip-hop/ballet audition is crosscut with the gunplay of Derek's thug friend, even though he is a minor character and irrelevant to the plot at that point. Overall, Save the Last Dance offers good, fluffy entertainment for preteen audiences.