Dirty Dancing v Footloose

You have a choice. You can either kick off your Sunday shoes or have the time of your life. You can sizzle with The Bacon or sway with The Swayze. Read the arguments and decide. Don’t worry: we won’t let anyone put you in a corner…

Ross McG: Dirty Dancing

Fight harder, huh?

Baby. Swayze. Baby. Bit more Baby. A hint of Swayze. Some more Swayze. Baby again. Baby and Swayze. Swayze. More Swayze. Lots more Swayze. Swayze. Swayze! Swayze! Swayze!

The formula for Dirty Dancing is not revolutionary (girl meets boy; girl falls for boy; boy doesn’t like girl; boy dances then sleeps with girl; boy likes girl) but it is executed with such gutsy freshness that there really is no film quite like it.

In Patrick ‘The Swayze’ Swayze and Jennifer Grey it boasts perhaps the two most likeable romantic leads in cinematic history. Forget Hepburn and Tracy, when these two are in the room together sparks fly. Their onscreen chemistry alone would make Dirty Dancing worth carrying a watermelon for. But throw in an astounding – if often anachronistic – soundtrack and some unforgettable dance sequences and you have a genuine classic. Footloose may be in the same sport, but it isn’t in the same league.

Dirty Dancing begins with a superb credits sequence: black and white figures slo-mo boogying to The Ronettes’ Be My Baby. It’s simple, it’s classy and it immediately thrusts you back to 1963. Footloose, in fairness, almost manages to match this with its opening of various pairs of feet grooving along to Kenny Loggins’ title track. But after that all-too-brief trip into the danger zone, the film settles into seen-it-all-before smalltown angst mush.

'I loved you in Red Dawn.' - 'No, I loved YOU in Red Dawn.'

'I loved you in Red Dawn.' - 'No, I loved YOU in Red Dawn.'

We are quickly introduced to Ariel Moore (Lori Singer), free-spirited daughter to a local preacher (the excellent-as-always John ‘yes, I know the muffin man’ Lithgow). She is wild. She is rebellious. She also happens to be the most annoying character in a decade jam-packed full of them. By the time Kevin Bacon’s rock ‘n’ roll-loving out-of-towner shows up on the scene, you find yourself urging him to run a mile from her – not go dancing with her. In Dirty Dancing, however, it is a joy to follow the summer at Kellerman’s Resort through the eyes of Frances ‘Baby’ Houseman, the everywoman to end all everywomen.

Footloose has some cracking tunes but it is weighed down by so much over-emotion it doesn’t allow its characters to ring true. We love Baby and Swayze’s Johnny Castle because we believe in them, there is something natural about them that makes them so real. The only character in Footloose we can identify with is yokel Willard, played with heartwarming naivety by Chris Penn, yet he is reduced to lesser-spotted sidekick rather than meaty starring role.

Dirty Dancing’s main draw, of course, is The Swayze. If you looked up ‘charisma’ in the dictionary, you would find the definition of ‘charisma’ – which is what The Swayze brings in abundance here. His signature moves in this film are well known – the tree trunk shuffle and the water hold are both excellent – but his best moment is less strain-inducing. It’s the look in his eyes when he walks through the hall door at the finale to insist on doing the last dance of the season with the corner-bound Baby. It is this tiny moment that makes your heart jump.

We all know what it’s like to have a summer romance. And with Dirty Dancing we have the chance to relive it all over again whenever we want. Footloose can’t possibly keep up with its quickstep. In the memorable finale, The Swayze puts on a record that won’t come out for another quarter of a century. But it doesn’t matter. The Swayze transcends time, he can do whatever the hell he likes.


Ross McD: Footloose

Been workin’ so hard…

Before we start, let me just confirm that Footloose is rubbish. The plots behind it and Dirty Dancing are equally crap. But Footloose’s one redeeming feature wipes the dancefloor with its opponent. On one side, you have the soppy strains of I’ve Had The Time Of My Life, a song which strikes fear into the hearts and arms of men everywhere. On the other side, you have the absolute awesomeness that is Kenny Loggins.

Footloose plays to its strengths here, visiting the song three times before it ends. In fact, one of its biggest failures is that the song isn’t running in the background throughout the entire movie. If you say you aren’t at the very least tapping your toes, or at the most jumping around the room like a lithe Kevin Bacon stunt double, you sir, are lying. Bacon also plays to his strengths in this film by shutting up when the musicians are at work: nobody wants to hear Patrick Swayze warbling about how she is akin to a fart, but watch Dirty Dancing and you have to.


Fine, I'LL stand in the corner...

Footloose is a dancing film that makes you want to dance. I’ll wager the largely female fanbase of Dirty Dancing just want to be lifted up by Patrick Swayze, or have him check if their cardiovascular system is functioning correctly. Though at least the fans wouldn’t spend two hours humming and hawing about whether to let Patrick Swayze hoist them in the air, which is pretty much a plot summary of Dirty Dancing. It’s a pity Swayze didn’t drop Baby on her face actually: it might have saved all that money she wasted downsizing her signature nose.

Poor Jenny Grey. She never got a look-in in Hollywood after chopping off her massive penis-esque conker. Luckily, Footloose’s much hotter Lori Singer didn’t have any such problems. Another person who is familiar with having misplaced body parts on their head is Singer’s Footloose co-star Sarah Jessica Parker, whose face closely resembles a foot. But SJP didn’t go try altering the way God hilariously built her, and look how well she’s done. Although she is married to Matthew feckin’ Broderick, poor thing.

Unlike Dirty Dancing, Footloose has at least a few scenes guys would find interesting, from the awesome tractor fight to the downright excellent stunt work at the start of the film when Singer’s Ariel jumps from speeding car to speeding lorry while having a game of chicken with an oncoming cargo truck.

The film’s best (Logginsless) scene comes at the climax, when after a revolutionary movement by the town’s young folk, they spend days converting an old barn to a dishko-teck, handing out flyers, buying decorations, putting up lights, hiring DJs, getting all dolled up, until the big night arrives, the camera cuts to the big moment… and everyone is awkwardly standing around the walls. Funny, brutal honesty. From the superb opening sequence of manky Nikes and legwarmers bopping along, to the big dance-off finale, all to the – if I may reiterate – awesomeness that is Kenny Loggins.

And what are you talking about Swayze? Did you ever think that perhaps Baby put herself in the corner? There’s only four seats here, where else is she supposed to sit? She isn’t even in the corner! We’re sitting at a round table halfway up the room, there isn’t a corner anywhere near us! She’s got the best f**ing view of the stage from there! Would you prefer if she sat with her back to everyone? And who are you to tell me where I put my kids anyway? I am the Law AND Order!



Dirty Dancing: 69 %, Footloose: 31 %


add to del.icio.usadd to blinkslistadd to furldigg thisadd to ma.gnoliastumble it!add to simpyseed the vineadd to redditadd to farktailrank thispost to facebook


24 Responses to “Dirty Dancing v Footloose”

  1. McLovin Says:

    I’ll take Dirty Dancing every day of the week.

  2. Ill never forget trying to pause my friends older sisters video of dirty dancing to get a glimpse of post love scene pantless Swayze. As a 12 year old it was an embarrassing having to either explain why I had accidentally recorded over that particular scene or why I had decided to record a tampon commercial. You could see my dilemma!

    Anyway I never would of bother rewinding a Kevin Bacon love scene over and over again.

    McG you win again.

  3. Goddammit lobbol, it’s about which is the better film, not how much of a little perv you are!

  4. Ross McG Says:

    perv all you like lobbol, perv all you like…

  5. Dirty Dancing is a classic! Shame on you McG for picking such an obvious winner. If you want a 80’s challenge try THe Breakfast Club v Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.

  6. I’ll have you know that Jennifer Grey starred in the ‘Whumper’ of a film that was Wind, with, uh, Matt Modine.

    And, um, Skellan Skarsgard.

    Yeah, take that. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BywNIZm6GeA

    Jen’s done enough botox at this stage to make a living impersonating Renee Zellwegger – http://url.ie/19oa

  7. Ross McG Says:

    shes like the Wind indeed… Mark Ham, once again you open my eyes to something i have no knowledge of. that film looks great – there was a guy with a crocodile head in the trailer! and something about ‘beating the best to be the best if you want to better yourself by being the best at best-beating’ or something. give me a rainy Grey day anytime… shes out of my LEAGUE!!!

  8. Thankfully, I’ve never seen either of these films. Not really my cup of tea.
    Too much dancing and too 1980s.
    And thinking of the 1980s, please don’t have a head to head featuring Dirty Dancing and Ghost.

  9. You’ll be delighted to hear, North Briton, that the theme of this Battle was indeed going to be ‘soppy Swayze’, with those very two films!
    But McG was afraid to go up against the Ghost.
    I think he was scared those little creepy black shadow ghouls would come out from under his bed and drag him away…

  10. Justin Michaels Says:

    McG is afraid of ghosts, huh? what a scaredy-cat. liked your argument McD, but didnt like your views on Jen Grey and SJP’s faces. i havent had the pleasure of seeing you in the flesh but im sure you are absolutely perfect. that must be really hard for you…

  11. It’s easier than you’d think.
    I didn’t like my views on their faces either, keep that s**t in the circus

  12. How can you compare those films? They’re both bloody awful. In fact I’ve never seen a decent Swayze film. And don’t say Point Break, because that’s rubbish too.

    How could you put images of these terrible pieces of celluloid back into my head?

  13. Hey, I said right a the top they were both crap. Just one is slightly more crap than the other

  14. General Griervous Says:

    Wot do u mean “We all know what it’s like to have a summer romance”?? I dont!
    Way 2 hurt my feelings McG 😦

  15. Antonius Maximus Says:

    General Griervous, what are you talking about!? Everytime we have been in a club for the last 10 years i try and pick you up just like the ‘Swayze Lift’! If that’s not romance i dont know what is!!

    McD i would also have to go with Footloose. Kenny Loggins is a God! Im practicing the steps under my desk as i type in preperation for Saturday night! But does anyone know were i can pick up a red blazer and dicky bow!?

  16. Al Katraz Says:

    Check out Siskel and Ebert reviewing Ghostbusters back in the dusty 80s. I can’t wait for the live action Ross V Ross experience. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UkfGXtX2qAE

  17. Few comments to make on this duel, firstly i cannot comment on Dirty Dancing, ill leave that to the millions of dvd buying females out there and good luck to em !! Secondly, surely Loggins breakdown and consequent build -up in the final third of his anthem is something a soundtrack gem and quite rightly highlighted and thoroughly emphasised in McD’s side of the battle. Thirdly and somewhat most importantly is what us males can take from Chris Penns superman-like change from flat-footed red-neck bumpkin to dance-floor supremo. Lets never be afraid to push the boundaries and use every part of our body to move and groove to Loggins finest !!

  18. Winwoozle Says:

    Speaking as one of “the millions of dvd buying females” (see above) I recently purchased Dirty Dancing and saw it for the first time (yes, I know! Shock horror!) But I have to say I loved it! Swayze is dreamy!

  19. Swayze’s needs to make up his mind. Is he a ghost or is he a cooler???…..cause he sure as hell aint a dancer. Man can’t dance for sh!t.

    Ross McG or any of you – I command you to watch Uncommon Valour – Hackman, Swayze and a couple of nobody’s. Swayzes only decent film alongside Roadhouse and the film Hackman should be remembered for.

  20. ……..oh! and as for dirty dancing v Footloose. It’s a draw – they are both sh!t.

    Rosss’ – start a decent battle asap

  21. Richie – Patrick Swayze will pull your throat out. With his bare hands.
    Oh, and I said they were both sh1t, so vote for me!

  22. You have my vote

  23. I think Dirty Dancing is fantastic. I love Patrick Swayze, it is a shame he is dead but he was a good dancer.

    Sophie Gregor

  24. […] The opening title sequence with the various feet tapping to Kenny Loggins is terrific, but after that it nosedives badly into over-angsty drivel. I wish I knew then what I know now: that Dirty Dancing is far superior. […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: