Film Review: Save The Last Dance 2 (dir by David Petrarca)

Recently, I was shocked to discover that I had never reviewed the 2006 film, Save The Last Dance 2.

I mean, really, it seems like this is a film that I should have reviewed a long time ago. For one thing, it’s not only a dance film but it’s also a ballet film and, if you’ve been reading this site for a while, you know that I pretty much grew up going to dance class and doing pointe work and regularly injuring my ankle. Add to that, Saved The Last Dance 2 is a sequel to one of my favorite movies, the original Save The Last Dance. Really, why had I not already reviewed this film before tonight?

Well, some of it is because Save The Last Dance 2 isn’t very good. I mean, it’s basically a really forgettable sequel that lacks almost everything that made the original Save The Last Dance such a meaningful film. Oddly enough, despite preferring the original, I think I actually have watched Save The Last Dance 2 more times than I’ve watched the first film. For whatever reason, Save The Last Dance 2 is on Showtime constantly! It shows up early in the morning, when you’re still too tired to change the channel and you end up watching it because you’re lazy. This is a film that mocks you by both tarnishing the legacy of the first Save The Last Dance but by also reminding you that you don’t even have the willpower necessary to turn off the TV.

Save The Last Dance 2 continues the story of Sara, who has now been accepted to Julliard and who has broken up with her wonderful boyfriend from the first film. In the first film, Sara was played by Julia Stiles. In the second film, she’s played by Izabella Miko. On the one hand, Izabella Miko is far more convincing ballerina than Julia Stiles was. (Unlike Julia Stiles, Izabella Miko was a dancer who even studied at the School of American Ballet before she injured her back and decided to focus on acting instead.) On the other hand, Julia Stiles brought some needed edginess to the role whereas Izabella Miko is so constantly cheerful that it’s hard to really believe that the Sara in the sequel is the same Sara from the original film. Izabella Miko is likable as Sara but, in this sequel, the character has been robbed of everything that made her interesting in the first film. She’s just another cheerful teenager looking for success in an MTV Film.

Once Sara arrives at Julliard, she meets the usual collection of jealous classmates, demanding teachers, and quirky roommates. She also meets Miles (Columbus Short), a guest lecturer who is impressed by Sara’s hip-hop skills. Sara and Miles fall in love. Miles wants Sara to help him choreograph his next show but the demanding Monique Delacroix (Jacqueline Bisset) wants Sara to play the lead in Giselle. Playing the lead will demand all of Sara’s time and attention but it could also be her ticket to stardom. Unfortunately, it also means that she won’t be able to help out Miles, which this film portrays as somehow being the ultimate betrayal despite the fact that one assumes that Miles, being a guest lecturer on hip hop dance, knows more than one choreographer.

If the message of the first film was that Sara didn’t have to choose between loving ballet and loving hip hop, the message of the sequel is, “Actually, she does have to choose and she better pick the one that will allow us to put together a successful soundtrack.” It’s a bit depressing and hollow, to be honest. It goes against everything that made the first film special.

That said, I’ll probably watch Save The Last Dance 2 the next time I turn on the TV and it’s playing on Showtime. Changing the channel would require too much effort.

Artwork of the Day: Campus Doll (by Tom Miller)

by Tom Miller

That’s one way to pay for college, I guess. The combination of the frat boy smoking a cigarette and that dangerously tight corset combine to make this cover a classic. The artist responsible was Tom Miller.

This book was originally published in 1961. Edwin West was a penname that was used, at the time, by the author Donald Westlake. Using the name Richard Stark, Westlake wrote a series of highly regarded crime novels about a ruthless crook named Parker.

Music Video of the Day: Don’t Fence Me In by David Byrne (1990, directed by David Byrne)

This cover of Cole Porter’s Don’t Fence Me In appeared on Red Hot + Blue, the same compilation album that featured Annie Lennox’s cover of Ev’Ry Time We Say Goodbye. Along with singing the song in his own unforgettable style, Byrne also directed the music video that was used to promote it. Byrne’s cover and the video both turn Porter’s song into an anthem of tolerance and liberation.

Of course, before Byrne covered the song, Don’t Fence Me In was made famous by one of the original singing cowboys, Roy Rogers. Rogers appears in archival footage throughout this video. The song itself was originally written ten years before Rogers first sang it in the 1944 film, Hollywood Canteen. Porter originally wrote the song from a never-produced western that was going to be called Adios Argentina. Porter based the lyrics on a poem that was written by Montana engineer Robert Fletcher. Fletcher was originally only paid $250 for his contribution to Don’t Fence Me In. A decade later, after Rogers made the song a hit, Fletcher was able to negotiate with Porter’s estate to get a co-writer credit and to also collect royalties on the song.