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Save the Last Dance (2001), (PG-13)
CAP Score: 55
CAP Influence Density: 1.38
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NOTE: If you do not want the plot, ending, or "secrets" of a movie spoiled for you, skip the Summary/Commentary. In any case, be sure to visit the Findings/Scoring section -- it is purely objective and is the heart of the CAP Entertainment Media Analysis Model applied to this movie
SUMMARY / COMMENTARY:
SAVE THE LAST DANCE (PG-13) -- One point saved it.
Driving home after viewing this flick I said to myself "Self, that was a "R-13" for sure." But when the number crunching was done, Save the Last Dance scored at the very bottom of the 55 to 67 point range earned by PG-13 movies in the CAP comparative numeric baseline database. It might was well have been an R-13, but it wasn't. One point saved it. That just "shows to go you" the CAP analysis model is insulated from my personal feelings.
The film opens with Sara taking a train ride to somewhere she does not want to go -- to her father who has been absent from her life for a long time. Her thoughts are revealed to us on film. Sara remembers moments of her dance talents encouraging of a career in ballet. Her memories reflect on the fateful day she was in the middle of an audition at Juilliard. Her mother had promised her she would be there in spite of job pressures. Mom was late keeping her promise and in her rush was killed in a traffic fatality. Sara blamed herself for her mother's death and vowed never to dance again. But fortunately, Derek Reynolds (Sean Patrick Thomas) changes her mind...gently.
Sara's father is not the father type. Though a nice guy, he has no aptitude for fathering and becomes his daughter's roommate and landlord. Though the love is there, the skill is not. And she lets him know in no uncertain terms. While still feeling abandoned at her new home, Chenille Reynolds (Kerry Washington) befriends Sara and shows her the "ropes" of life in a Chicago urban school. A rather complex chain of relationships lead Sara to Derek, Chenille's brother, and unfortunately to Malakai (Fredro Starr) through Derek. Malakai is a street thief and gang lord who saved Derek's bacon once by taking an arrest and doing time for him. Now Derek feels indebted to Malakai, even to the extent of getting Malakai's back just one more time -- just one more. But Derek's direction is taking him elsewhere. Derek has a scholarship to Georgetown to be a medical doctor.
Through Chenille, Sara ends up at a local club and Derek notices that Sara is not skilled at contemporary dancing. Y'know, the rub dancing where the girl squats a little and the guy rubs his frontal pelvis on her posterior while grasping her hips? Yup, there was vulgar dancing in this "dance" movie. So, Derek decides to teach her "modern" dancing. However, unfortunate such skills may be, she learns them well. And such behavior is embedded in an air of complete acceptability and warmth of camaraderie and developing love. And, of course, in this teen club there is ample booze to mask the harshness of and to perpetuate and encourage, whether intentional, the epidemic of teen alcoholism and illegal possession and consumption of alcoholic beverages.
Roger Ebert pointed out a property of Save the Last Dance even I missed. Though completely outside the scoring of this movie, I felt it worthwhile to point out. Sara and Derek, though in love, made no commitments. They had plans. College. Vocation. A future. Maybe their futures will combine someday, but let's take care of priorities first -- wise thinking all teens should take as a template.
There are many other instances of inappropriate behavior in this movie targeted at teens, but it is not a "check your brain at the door" movie. One of the issues touched by this teen flick is interracial relationships. God separated the races for a reason [Gen. 11:9] but I am not wise enough nor experienced with the Scriptures enough to address the issue of interracial boy-girl relationships. I do know that when we each stand before Jesus at Judgment, He will not be black, white, Jew, Baptist, Catholic or anything else. He will be Jesus. And though Jesus was male as a human we are ALL, she and he alike, equal at the foot of the Cross. While there are m-a-n-y admonishments in the Bible against sexual immorality, I know of nowhere in the Scriptures which admonishes us one way or another regarding interracial male-female relationships. There may indeed be such admonishment, but I do not know of it. Feel free to share with us whatever you can point to in chapter/verse.
There are, however, MANY examples in *Save the Last Dance* of behavior which are clearly unacceptable before Him [Ps. 12:8]. Arrogance against a father. Drive by shootings and fighting. Ninety uses of the three/four letter word vocabulary plus one use of the most foul of the foul words [Prov. 8:13]. The use of God's name in vain but without the four letter expletive [Deut. 5:11]. Vulgar and profane words in rap songs [Col. 3:8], some with violence. Vulgar dancing and additional inappropriate touching. Dressing to maximize the female form and/or skin exposure. Stripping to underwear. A female *on* a male in dance. Ghosting of female anatomy through thin clothing. Sex talk/innuendo (some vulgar) [2Pet. 2:18; 1Ths. 4:3]. Dutiful homosexual mentions [1Cor. 6:9-10]. And more. The listing in the Findings/Scoring section will reveal what I found.
Applicable text is underlined and fortification is provided in brackets [ ] for special focus if needed.
As always, it is best to refer to the Findings/Scoring section -- the heart of the CAP analysis model -- for the most complete assessment possible of this movie.
FINDINGS / SCORING:
NOTE: Multiple occurrences of each item described below may be likely, definitely when plural.
Wanton Violence/Crime (W):
Offense to God (O)(2):