Save the Last Dance

Save the Last Dance

Infobox Film
name = Save the Last Dance

caption = Theatrical release poster
director = Thomas Carter
writer = Duane Adler
Cheryl Edwards
starring = Julia Stiles
Sean Patrick Thomas
Kerry Washington
producer = Robert W. Cort
distributor = Paramount Pictures
budget = ~ US$13,000,000
released = January 12, 2001 (USA)
runtime = 112 min.
country = United States
language = English
followed_by = "Save the Last Dance 2" (2006)
imdb_id = 0206275
amg_id = 1:198456

"Save the Last Dance" is a 2001 drama movie produced by MTV Films, directed by Thomas Carter, written by Duane Adler, 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.


As a promising dancer in high school, Sarah Johnson (Julia Stiles) hoped to be admitted to study at Juilliard and invited her mother to attend the audition. Sarah failed in this first attempt, then was horrified to discover that her mother had been involved in a fatal car crash in her haste to arrive at the tryout. Wracked with guilt, Sarah gives up on ballet entirely.

After her mother's death, Sarah moves in with her estranged father (Terry Kinney). He plays the trumpet in a local Chicago jazz band and lives in a predominantly African American neighborhood. At her new high school, Sarah is one of only a handful of white girls, but is befriended quickly by Chenille (Kerry Washington). Chenille's brother, Derek (Sean Patrick Thomas), is a promising student with dreams of going to Georgetown Medical School.

Chenille invites Sarah to a dance club called STEPPS, where she has her first experience dancing to hip hop rhythms. Derek dedicates himself to helping her develop her talent, as they practice in abandoned warehouses, school classrooms and anywhere they can find. As they become closer, Derek takes a reluctant Sarah to the Joffrey Ballet and afterwards, Sarah confides in him all about her mother and her dreams of Juilliard. Later they return to the club and amaze others with their dancing, although Derek also sees his ex-girlfriend, Nikki, and engages in a round of "dirty dancing" with her, temporarily putting off Sarah. Little by little, Derek and Sarah become romantically involved. Having already achieved his dream of being accepted at Georgetown, Derek convinces her that she needs to do what she wants, and to follow her dreams, but she needs to get back into dance shape.

Back at school, Nikki picks a fight with Sarah. Chenille tells Sarah that she didn't approve of the fight but can understand the bitterness since Sarah, a white girl, is seen as stealing one of the few good black men in the school. Because of this, Sarah breaks up with Derek.

Derek also has a friend named Malakai (Fredro Starr) from whom he has become somewhat estranged. After a drive-by at the basketball court, Malachi wants payback, and needs help. Derek is torn over repaying his friend's past loyalty at the risk of his own college plans.

Scenes of Sarah's audition for Juilliard, in which Derek arrives at a crucial moment to offer encouragement, alternate with scenes of Malakai's shoot-out, in which friends are killed by a rival gang and Malakai is arrested. The film closes as Derek, Sarah, Chenille and their friends join at STEPPS to celebrate Sarah's successful audition.


*Julia Stiles as Sara Johnson
*Sean Patrick Thomas as Derek Reynolds
*Kerry Washington as Chenille Reynolds
*Fredro Starr as Malakai
*Terry Kinney as Roy Johnson
*Bianca Lawson as Nikki
*Vince Green as Snookie
*Richard maponya as Mr.T
*Samuel Monyane as Mr.t's boy

Earnings and awards

The film was, according to Clint Eastwood, "a surprise success" in theaters especially with the teenage female audienceFact|date=December 2007, and is regarded as having two of the best breakthrough performances for its leading actors, Stiles, and especially Thomas.Fact|date=December 2007 It was a financial success as well, with box-office earnings of $91,038,276 in the US alone and toppling the $100 million mark worldwide.Fact|date=December 2007

"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 was not well received by critics. Rotten Tomatoes' rating assesses the film as "Rotten," with 47 of 92 reviewers panning the film, and summarizes the critical consensus as "This teen romance flick feels like a predictable rehashing of other movies." [ "Save the Last Dance": Critical Consensus] at Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2007-12-30.] Even the reviews marked "fresh" are hardly enthusiastic, 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."Charles Taylor. [ "Save the Last Dance" (review),] "Salon", January 12, 2001. Retrieved 2007-12-30.]


The soundtrack, filled with music underscoring the dance scenes from the film, also became a success. It features a lineup of R&B and hip hop performers such as Snoop Dogg, Ice Cube, Pink and Notorious B.I.G., Jesse Powell, K-Ci & Jo-Jo, Donnell Jones, X-2-C, Athena Cage, Chaka Demus and Soulbone. Fredro Starr, of the hip hop group Onyx, who also appears in the film in a supporting role, performs the main theme on the soundtrack.

See also

* "Dirty Dancing", a 1987 film which starred Patrick Swayze, a performer from the Joffrey Ballet


External links

*imdb title|id=0206275|title=Save the Last Dance

Box Office Leaders USA
before = Cast Away
date = January 14
date2 = January 21
year = 2001
after = The Wedding Planner

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