Everything I needed to know about why there was a double-dip of Save the Last Dance was answered within the first five minutes, when I saw a trailer for what appears to be the straight-to-video sequel for the film. So from there, the strategy appears to be to throw two or three semi-current extras onto the existing disc and call it a special edition. My favorite. Like green vegetables first thing in the morning. Now don’t get me wrong, the movie itself I like, but I would guess that there ar…n’t too many hard-core devotees that are complaining about a double dip.
From a screenplay by Cheryl Edwards and Duane Adler, and directed by Thomas Carter (Coach Carter), Sara (Julia Stiles, The Omen) is a girl who used to be a pretty good ballet dancer, even one who auditioned for Julliard, but her biggest fan of all, her mother, couldn’t attend the audition, and unfortunately died in a car accident on the way there. She moves to Chicago to live with her father (Terry Kinney, Oz) and goes to a high school in the city. She quickly befriends Chenille (Kerry Washington, Mr. & Mrs. Smith), or more exactly, Chenille takes her under her wing a little bit, and they start to go clubbing, where Sara meets Chenille’s brother Derek (Sean Patrick Thomas, Barbershop 2). Derek is an aspiring medical student looking to apply to Georgetown, and even though his best friend Malakai (Fredro Starr, Torque), is a bit of a street hoodlum, he still manages to try to rise above it.
I’m not sure what it is about the film that makes me not dismiss it out of hand, because the premise of the story seems to border along the lines of Dangerous Minds meets Flashdance, but the story helps to position the characters to be charismatic ones, even the ones that are supposed to be “bad”. And the performances of Stiles, Thomas and Washington are all good enough that it makes me forget that I’ve got to listen to hip-hip for most of the movie.
A film like this has gotta sound good because a lot of it is focused in clubs and whatnot, and the 5.1 surround soundtrack on Save the Last Dance does just that. All of the music sounds clear and lively, as does the dialogue, and the surround speakers are frequently employed during the club scenes. Good stuff.
I’ll assume that a new transfer wasn’t created for the new edition of this disc, but having said that, the 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen look of the film is pretty good. The blacks do waver in quality a little bit and I spotted some minor edge enhancement, but it was an otherwise naturally reproduced image.
Just like a lot of shabbily produced double-dips that go straight to video, the extras from the first version port over, along with some tie-ins to the sequel. Carter provides a commentary for the film that does tend to be a little flat at times, though I’ve gotta admit is the first MTV film to mention Kurosawa in one fashion of another. He discusses the cast and what they did to get brought up to speed, and talks about the audience he was trying to reach and the music he used to do it. He focuses a little more on the subject than on the production itself, so it’s a little bit boring for me, but for those who really like the film, go for it. Next is a making of look at the film that is your typical EPK material, where the cast shares their thoughts on the film and each other, along with working with such a “passionate” director, and what people should gain from watching the film. This lovefest goes on for about 20 minutes, and after that, a more interesting look at the writers’ intent in the film, what they wanted to convey, what they wanted to communicate through the characters and how to get to do it. It’s a little more cerebral, and I liked it. The look at the choreography was, well, a look at how all the actors got to dance, and the Chicago Dance Academy where the production was filmed is covered, as its students talk about the sacrifices made to get (and stay) there, along with the rewards they get from it. There’s a “retrospective” that appears to be comprised of interviews from the film’s press junket, along with a music video and two deleted scenes that run about 5 minutes in length. A look at the sequel and the trailer for said sequel round things out.
Greedy money hungry double-dipping aside, the movie is OK enough for those in the MTV frame of mind to enjoy it. If you’ve always got a soft spot in your heart for the film, this will probably be the definitive edition, so go buy it if you like it.
Special Features List
- Director Commentary
- Deleted Scenes
- Music Video