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"SAVE THE LAST DANCE"
(2001) (Julia Stiles, Sean Patrick Thomas) (PG-13)

Alcohol/
Drugs
Blood/Gore Disrespectful/
Bad Attitude
Frightening/
Tense Scenes
Guns/
Weapons
Mild Mild Extreme Mild Moderate
Imitative
Behavior
Jump
Scenes
Music
(Scary/Tense)
Music
(Inappropriate)
Profanity
Moderate None None Mild Heavy
Sex/
Nudity
Smoking Tense Family
Scenes
Topics To
Talk About
Violence
Moderate Mild Moderate Heavy Heavy


QUICK TAKE:
Drama: A sullen, white teenager moves to a new city to live with her estranged father and finds her passion for ballet re-ignited when she starts seeing a black student at her school.
PLOT:
Sarah Johnson (JULIA STILES) is a white, 17-year-old who once dreamed of going to Julliard to study ballet, but gave up on that notion when her mother was killed in a car accident on the way to her audition. Still haunted by the guilt of that, Sarah has now traveled to inner city Chicago to live with her estranged father, Roy (TERRY KINNEY), a jazz trumpeter.

Enrolling in a predominantly black high school, Sarah obviously stands out, and immediately clashes with Derek Reynolds (SEAN PATRICK THOMAS), a bright student in her English class. Fortunately for Sarah, another black student, Chenille (KERRY WASHINGTON), who just so happens to be Derek's sister and an unwed mother, befriends her and the sullen teen slowly begins to fit in.

That's not to say that she doesn't encounter various obstacles, one of which is Nikki (BIANCA LAWSON), Derek's former girlfriend who isn't happy to see a budding romance now developing between him and Sarah. The same holds true for Malakai (FREDRO STARR), Derek's best friend and current criminal thug, who thinks Sarah's coming between them and softening up Derek too much.

As Derek helps rekindle Sarah's passion for dancing and coaches her for a new audition with Julliard, the two must deal with their feelings toward each other as well as the reaction of others to their interracial relationship.

WILL KIDS WANT TO SEE IT?
If they're fans of anyone in the cast or of dance-related films, they might, but this one seems most attractive to teenage girls and those looking for a date flick.
WHY THE MPAA RATED IT: PG-13
For violence, sexual content, language and brief drug references.
CAST AS ROLE MODELS:
  • SEAN PATRICK THOMAS plays a bright student who's torn between being a normal student and his allegiance to his old thug friend. We learn that he was involved in some criminal behavior in the past (for which he paid no retribution) and he uses some profanity and may sleep with Sarah.
  • JULIA STILES plays a 17-year-old, former ballet dancer who gave up dancing due to feeling guilty about her mother's accidental death. Finding herself the outsider at a new school, she gets into a relationship with Derek, apparently sleeps with him and uses profanity (1 instance of which is strong).
  • TERRY KINNEY plays her estranged father who takes her in after her mother's death and somewhat tries to be a father figure to her.
  • FREDRO STARR plays Derek's best friend, a criminal/thug who has a perpetual bad attitude and gets into fights with others, is involved in a drive-by shooting, roughs up some girls, and uses profanity.
  • KERRY WASHINGTON plays Derek's sister who's the first to befriend Sarah, although her attitude toward her changes for the worse as the story progresses. She uses some profanity and is an unwed mother.
  • BIANCA LAWSON plays her friend who has a perpetual bad attitude toward Sarah and uses profanity.
  • CAST, CREW, & TECHNICAL INFO

    HOW OTHERS RATED THIS MOVIE


    Curious if this title is entertaining, any good, and/or has any artistic merit?
    Then read OUR TAKE of this film.


    (Note: The "Our Take" review of this title examines the film's artistic merits and does not take into account any of the possibly objectionable material listed below).


    OUR WORD TO PARENTS:
    Here's a quick look at the content found in this drama that's been rated PG-13. Profanity consists of at least 1 use of the "f" word, while plenty of other expletives and colorful phrases are used throughout the film (with some also occurring in songs that play on the soundtrack).

    Some non-explicit, sexually related comments are made, while the beginning of a sexual encounter is seen (with kissing and the initial removal of some clothes). During many of the film's dance scenes, the participants engage in suggestive dancing and the camera often focuses on their body parts involved in that activity. We also learn that a supporting teenage character has a baby from a deadbeat father.

    Other bad attitudes are present, and since the two main characters get into an interracial relationship, various characters have bad attitudes related to that. There's also a thug who's in a perpetually bad mood, gets into fights and is involved in a drive-by shooting, all while trying to drag his friend into the fray. Other violence occurs, including another drive-by shooting and a mother's death in a car accident (in a flashback), and some of those scenes have slightly bloody results and may be tense and/or unsettling to some viewers.

    That death creates some tense family moments (the daughter feels guilty about it), while various teenagers drink, smoke and behave in ways that some impressionable kids might want to imitate. Finally, all sorts of topics to talk about are present throughout the film (based on what occurs within it). Should you still be concerned about the film's appropriateness for anyone in your home who wishes to see it, we suggest that you take a closer look at our detailed content listings for more specific examples of what occurs in it.


    ALCOHOL OR DRUG USE
  • Various young people have drinks (that are presumably alcoholic) in a dance club, while Sarah orders a drink for Chenille and a beer for herself (but we never see either with them).
  • Chenille states that her mom was in jail for "things women do for drugs" (presumably prostitution).
  • Various people drink in the above club again.
  • BLOOD/GORE
  • In a flashback, we see a very brief shot of an overturned vehicle and Sarah's injured/dead mother inside and what look's like a bit of blood on her face.
  • During a montage of Sarah training for a dance audition, we briefly see her with a slightly bloody toenail (from all of her practicing).
  • Sarah has a bruise on her face after getting into a fight with Nikki.
  • Malakai has a little bit of a bloody lip after being punched.
  • We see some bloody bandages on various young men's heads after a car accident.
  • DISRESPECTFUL/BAD ATTITUDE
  • A student makes comments in a classroom about Truman Capote being a "fag."
  • Nikki immediately has a bad attitude toward Sarah and maintains it throughout the story.
  • Some miscellaneous men make some sounds/catcalls toward Sarah as she walks by.
  • Commenting on the picture of a woman on a fake I.D., Sarah states that the woman is fat and ugly.
  • A miscellaneous man grabs Chenille's butt as she walks by in a club. In turn, she grabs his crotch to show him how it feels being harassed.
  • Kenny, the father of Chenille's baby, has a bad attitude for not supporting either of them or wanting to be involved in his son's life/upbringing.
  • Malakai holds a girl by her face, telling her he wants his money. He then slaps and struggles with her before Sarah intervenes. The other girl runs out and Malakai slams Sarah back into a wall, acting menacingly toward her so that she doesn't tell anyone what she just saw.
  • Derek admits to breaking into a liquor store with Malakai sometime in the past (and of Malakai drawing the pursuing police's attention toward him and not ratting out Derek to them). Sarah then admits that she stole a hat when she was twelve (but that her mother found out and made her return it).
  • A miscellaneous woman disparagingly stares at Sarah and Derek being together (since she's white and he's black).
  • Malakai tells Sarah that she's "milk" (white) and that there's no reason for her to try to mix with Derek.
  • Miscellaneous men who do a drive-by shooting have bad attitudes, as does Malakai and his friends who later retaliate with the same.
  • Chenille develops one toward Sarah when she gets mad at white women stealing all of the "good" black men.
  • FRIGHTENING SCENES
  • Scenes listed under "Violence" may also be unsettling and/or tense to some viewers.
  • GUNS/WEAPONS
  • Handgun(s): Carried by Malakai in his waistband and used by him and others in two drive-by shootings.
  • IMITATIVE BEHAVIOR
  • Phrases: "F*ck you," "Bullsh*t," "You talk a lot of sh*t for someone who never says anything," "That bitch ain't got sh*t on me," "What was that sh*t you just did?" "Wild sh*t," "Bad sh*t," "No sh*t," "That sh*t ain't funny," "What is this sh*t?" "I don't need this sh*t," "Sh*tless," "Fag," "Open a can of whoop ass," "Hell, yeah," "Sit your punk ass down," "Long ass," "Chicks" and "Honeys" (women), "Oh, hell no," "Wench," "Nigger" (heard in a song and later said by Malakai who's black), "Screw you," "Freaking (out)" "Shut up," "Piss us off," "Bitch," "Damn right," "Toilet trash," "What's the big damn deal?" "The hell with it/ you," "Screwed up," "Punk ass bitch," "Balls" (testicles) and "Kiss my ass."
  • Chenille gets Sarah a fake I.D. to get into a club (with some/all of the other students presumably using fake ones for admittance as well).
  • A miscellaneous man grabs Chenille's butt as she walks by in a club. In turn, she grabs his crotch to show him how it feels being harassed.
  • A miscellaneous woman disparagingly stares at Sarah and Derek being together on a bus (since she's white and he's black), so the two start acting sensuously toward each other just to rile up that woman.
  • Various people participate in drive-by shootings in two separate scenes.
  • Various characters do some suggestive "dirty dancing" on the dance floor.
  • JUMP SCENES
  • None.
  • MUSIC (SCARY/TENSE)
  • None.
  • MUSIC (INAPPROPRIATE)
  • The following was heard in various songs that play on the soundtrack heard in the film: "Open a can of whoop ass," "Nigger," "Let's make love 'till the break of dawn," as well as many uses of the "s" word and "ass."
  • Many other songs playing on the soundtrack contain lyrics that can't be understood, thus offering the possibility of more objectionable content occurring in them.
  • PROFANITY
  • At least 1 "f" word, 50 "s" words (some of which occur in songs), 1 slang term using male genitals ("d*ck"), 27 asses (2 used with "hole" and some of which occur in songs), 11 hells, 9 damns, 4 uses of "God" and 1 use of "Oh my God" as exclamations.
  • SEX/NUDITY
  • Chenille sarcastically asks a male teen if his "hand is busy" when he states that he'll be bringing a "honey" (woman) to some event.
  • A miscellaneous man grabs Chenille's butt as she walks by in a club. In turn, she grabs his crotch to show him how it feels being harassed.
  • Various young women show cleavage.
  • As various young people dance in a club, the camera focuses on their clothed butts and the dancers doing some varyingly suggestive dirty dancing (rubbing/grinding body parts together while dancing).
  • The same holds true when Derek teaches Sarah how to dance to hip hop music. When she asks, "How's my body" (referring to her dancing), he says that it's nice (meaning how her body physically looks to him).
  • Chenille states that her mom was in jail for "things women do for drugs" (presumably prostitution).
  • A miscellaneous woman disparagingly stares at Sarah and Derek being together on a bus (since she's white and he's black), so the two start acting sensuously toward each other just to rile up that woman (she putting her leg up over his lap, he nuzzling her neck, etc.).
  • Some professional ballet dancers (male and female) wear skintight outfits that clearly accentuate certain body parts.
  • Sarah and Derek, briefly, but sensuously kiss goodnight.
  • Back on the dance floor, the camera again focuses on body parts and more thrusting and grinding, etc. (especially in regards to Nikki dancing with Derek and bending over with her butt at his crotch, etc.).
  • Back at her dad's place with Derek, Sarah tells him that her dad is at work and will be gone all night. The two then passionately kiss and start to unclothe each other (removing coats, etc.) while standing. We then see them continuing to kiss with his shirt off, but the scene ends there (possibly suggesting sex between the two).
  • One guy talks to Derek about a white girl (Sarah) "giving you some" (sex).
  • When Kenny states that he didn't ask to have a baby, Chenille says that same thing, sarcastically adding that she didn't climb on top of herself.
  • SMOKING
  • Malakai smokes several times, while Nikki, Roy and various miscellaneous characters also smoke at least once.
  • TENSE FAMILY SCENES
  • Through a flashback, we learn that Sarah's mother died in a traffic accident while en route to see Sarah's audition. As such, not only must Sarah move to Chicago to live with her estranged father, but she also greatly misses her mother and feels guilty about her death.
  • We learn that Chenille (a teenager) has a baby and that the father offers little help.
  • Chenille states that her mom was in jail for "things women do for drugs" (presumably prostitution) and then adds that she wasn't around after that.
  • TOPICS TO TALK ABOUT
  • Sarah feeling guilty about her mother's death.
  • Interracial relationships and people's reactions to them.
  • We learn that Chenille (a teenager) has a baby and that the father offers little help.
  • Derek admits to breaking into a liquor store with Malakai sometime in the past (and of Malakai drawing the pursuing police's attention toward him and not ratting out Derek to them).
  • Chenille states that her mom was in jail for "things women do for drugs" (presumably prostitution).
  • Chenille's comments that white women take the only good black men (she's upset because Kenny, the father of her son, isn't a good guy).
  • Chenille gets Sarah a fake I.D. to get into a club (with some/all of the other students presumably using fake ones for admittance as well).
  • VIOLENCE
  • In a flashback, we see the moments leading up to Sarah's mother being killed in a car wreck (but don't see the actual impact or death). However, we do see a very brief shot of the overturned vehicle and Sarah's injured/dead mother inside and what look's like a bit of blood on her face.
  • In a dance club, Malakai goes over to some man and punches him. Others then struggle with Malakai who throws one guy aside. Derek then runs up to pull them apart and more punching and kicking occurs (with Malakai repeatedly punching one man and Derek repeatedly kicking another guy on the floor). After they start to walk away, Malakai runs up and kicks his victim quite hard.
  • Malakai holds a girl by her face, telling her he wants his money. He then slaps and struggles with her before Sarah intervenes. The other girl runs out and Malakai slams Sarah back into a wall, acting menacingly toward her so that she doesn't tell anyone what she just saw.
  • While playing basketball in the school gym, Nikki runs up and pushes Sarah. In turn, Sarah then runs up and pushes Nikki to the floor. The two then struggle on the floor, with some punching and slapping until they're separated.
  • Some men do a drive-by shooting (with handguns) as they pass a basketball court where Derek, Malakai and others are playing basketball. Malakai then shoots back at them with his gun (but no one is apparently hit).
  • Malakai kicks another student to the floor when mocking him for ducking to the ground during the above scene.
  • Derek and Malakai push each other and Derek then punches Malakai for making a disparaging remark about Sarah.
  • When Derek refuses to do something for Malakai, the latter pushes the former backwards.
  • Malakai and his friends do a drive-by shooting aimed at other young men (with shattered windows and what looks like one person non-graphically being hit). Those men then return handgun fire back at them, eventually causing Malakai's car to catch on fire and then crash into another car (with a few resultant injuries).



  • Reviewed January 5, 2001 / Posted January 12, 2001

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