Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Top 10 Cinematic Slow Dance Scenes

I’m a movie romantic. I’ll tear up at the slightest glance from a leading man to the leading lady. Stifle my sobbing as they run towards each other to the swelling of a cheesy 80’s ballad. And then enter a state of full on weeping as the two enter their “seal-the-deal” kiss. But if I ever see “real” romance in front of me, get me a barf bag. It’s an interesting conundrum how easily I’m disgusted by a real person’s proof of affection for another, but how I celebrate fictional character’s with blogs. 

This has been a rather long winded introduction to my next post which describes my Top 10 Cinematic Slow Dance Scenes. Slow dance scenes are always effective. They show the couple in an intimate situation which often forces them to realize their true emotions for each other. Let's begin, shall we?

#10: Love Actually
Characters: Sarah (Laura Linney) and Karl (Rodrigo Santoro)
Song: “Turn Me On” – Norah Jones 

Why it's Awesome: This dance scene is the definition of “short and sweet.” For the last three years, Sarah has had a secret crush on Karl. It isn’t until the annual Christmas party when he “notices” her. This dance scene is very reminiscent of junior high. In true after school special form, he asks her to dance during a fast song. As the two begin awkwardly fast dancing, suddenly Norah Jones’s soothing, soulful voice forces them into each other’s arms. He softly touches her hair and we see that the attraction is mutual. Sarah rejoices in her long awaited moment.

#9: My Boyfriend's Back
Characters: Johnny Dingle (Andrew Lowery) and Missy McCloud (Traci Lind)
Song: “Holding On for Dear Life” – MMC 

Why it's Awesome: My Boyfriend's Back is probably a movie you've never heard of. And probably for good reason. It's about a lovestruck teen who gets shot in a convenient store robbery and comes back from the dead to take his long time crush, Missy, to the prom. It's from the early 90's and of the same quality as the "Buffy" movie. Being a zombie, Johnny must consume human flesh to sustain himself for the big night. Zany mishaps ensue, and by the time the prom arrives, a weakened Johnny has to lean on Missy as they enter the ornate tin-foiled pearly gates of the appropriately "heaven" themed dance. The two finally share the dance Johnny has been waiting for since first grade, but of course, it's been too long since he's had a cannibal sandwich and he collapses, in the center of the gym, with dry ice surrounding him, but not before the couple exchange the token "please don't go" and "I love you." It's a touching moment for an early 90's pseudo-paranormal teen comedy. I cried the first time I saw it. Granted, I was 13.

#8: Witness
Characters: John Book (Harrison Ford) and Rachel Lapp (Kelly McGillis)
Song: “What a Wonderful World” – Greg Chapman 

Why it's Awesome: To classify this scene as "slow dancing" may be a bit of a stretch. But this is my blog and I make the rules. The scene I'm referring to is the one in the barn where John is trying to repair his car and Rachel is watching him like a curious child. John turns on the radio to an oldies station where "What a Wonderful World" is playing and he playfully asks her to dance. He begins awkwardly swinging her around and she complies, replete with school girl giggling. But of course, the heat is turned up when the pair realizes their close proximity. John continues treating this possible sexy moment as a joke. But it's too late. The sexual tension as been created. And it won't be easy to get rid of.

#7: Enchanted
Characters: Giselle (Amy Adams) and Robert (Patrick Dempsey)
Song: “So Close” – Jon McLaughlin 

Why it's awesome: At first, I didn't think the dance scene from Enchanted was anything special. After all, it was just a combination of every dance scene from any Disney movie ever made. But I love Disney, so with repeated viewings, it grew on me. The scene takes place at a ball (of course) where the master of ceremonies instructs every gentleman to ask a lady he didn't come with to dance. Giselle's Prince Edward, being the well-mannered royal that he is, asks Robert's fiancee Nancy to dance, leaving Giselle in Robert's care. The two begin dancing, and through it, allow themselves to admit their forbidden feelings for one another. The sweetest moment is when Robert begins singing along, after he previously nixed such a frivolity. Towards the end of the dance, Nancy cuts in and the four are split into their respective couples. Giselle watches as Nancy kisses Robert, and accepts her fate with Edward.

#6: Spider-Man 3
Characters: Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire) and Mary Jane Watson (Kirsten Dunst)
Song: “Love Theme from Spider-Man” – Instrumental 

Why it's awesome: Okay, go ahead and judge me. I was among the precious few that actually enjoyed Spider-Man 3. (Well, most of it.) I had hopes after watching the "I-always-imagined-you-getting-married-on-a-hilltop" scene from Spider-Man 2, that this movie, being the last in the series, would end with such a scene. But it became exceedingly clear to me with the Gwen Stacy kiss, the cheating with Harry, the forced "there's someone else" scene, the crazy dancing emo revenge, and most definitely the slap, that there wasn't going to be a hilltop wedding scene. The very last scene of the movie has M.J. singing in the jazz club where the shit previously hit the fan. Suddenly, Peter comes in. Although there is much to say between them, he opts for silence. He extends his hand with an apologetic look and she takes it. They hug and then begin swaying, both happy to have each other once again. Everyone, including the characters in question, have no idea what the future will bring. Hard to believe this is where the original franchise ends.

#5: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows-Part 1
Characters: Hermione Granger (Emma Watson) and Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe)
Song: “O' Children” – Nick Cave 

Why it's Awesome: No, I am not one of those Harry-Hermione shippers! However, I loved this scene from the latest Harry Potter flick. Ron has run off due to the evil locket horcrux, leaving Hermione and Harry alone. As Hermione sadly listens to the death reports on the radio (Ron's favorite past time on the horcrux hunt), Harry changes it to actual music. Without words, he asks her to dance and begrudgingly, she does. The two end up having fun, but at the end of the song, Hermione still misses Ron and Harry's attempt to lift her spirits has failed. This isn't your atypical slow dance scene. And I don't think Harry was trying to make his move. It was an act of friendship. P.S. I know a lot of people luuurrrvvve the angstiness of the song, but yuck.

#4: Peter Pan
Characters: Peter Pan (Jeremy Sumpter) and Wendy Darling (Rachel Hurd-Wood)
Song: “Fairy Dance” – Instrumental 

Why it's awesome: Peter Pan (the non Mary Martin live action version) is one of the most underrated films of all time. It was released in the winter of 2003, which was ruled by another fantasy film, Return of the King, and so it's unlikely that you saw it. The Disney version of Peter Pan was one of my favorite early childhood movies, but I was always disappointed at the lack of romance between Peter and Wendy, when clearly, there was something there. This version fully takes advantage of it. The slow dance scene in question does not exist in the book or stage play. After the rescue of Tiger Lily and battle with Hook, the Lost Boys and company are celebrating. Peter sneaks off and invites Wendy along. He shows her a hollowed tree where two fairies are dancing. With sweet awkwardness, Peter and Wendy begin mimicking the fairies, and they share an airborne dance in the Technicolored Neverland jungle. Yes, it is corny. And yes, it is laughable. But I imagine if I was a child when this movie came out, I would think it was the most romantic scene in the history of cinema.

#3: Beauty and the Beast
Characters: Belle (Paige O'Hara) and The Beast (Robby Benson)
Song: “Beauty and the Beast” – Angela Lansbury

Why it's awesome: There's no way you can make a list of the greatest slow dance scenes and not include Beauty and the Beast. It's beautiful. And epic. But for me, it's the little parts. When Belle drags him into the ballroom and she puts his hand on her waist and moves closer to him. She looks at him with pure love and trust. The Beast doesn't quite know how to handle it and allows his shock to be shown. And later when she rests her head on his shoulder and he grins at Lumiere and Cogsworth . And, of course, how can I not mention the shot coming down from the ceiling? It's sure to be shown in Disney montages until the end of time. This scene has probably single-handedly effected the romantic needs of the female population of my generation.

#2: Casper
Characters: Casper (Devon Sawa) and Kat Harvey (Christina Ricci)
Song: “Remember Me This Way” – Jordan Hill 

Why it's awesome: Any average girl knows the agonizing hell of being at a junior high dance without a date. Whatever the cause of your single-ness, you put on a brave face and probably dance with your circle of friends until a slow piano intro blasts out of the speakers and you must make your way to the dozen chairs set up by the food table. You know that no one is going to ask you to dance, but in the back of your mind you imagine some hunk making his way through the crowd, ignoring all the other girls and extending his hand to you. This is exactly what happens in 1995's Casper. Based on the comic/T.V. show about the friendly ghost, Casper is given the gift of life for a couple hours. Kat is the only one dateless at her own Halloween party. Soon, in human form, Casper descends the stairs, parts the crowd and escorts Kat to the dance floor. Unaware of who he is, she goes along with him. And when we finally see his face, we understand why. It belongs to 90's preteen dream Devon Sawa, for cripes sakes! Finally, she realizes that it's Casper after they begin floating in the air. The scene ends with the clock striking 10, and before he turns back into a ghost, Casper kisses Kat and then scares the shit out of all the party guests by turning transparent again.

#1: My Best Friend's Wedding
Characters: Julianne Potter (Julia Roberts) and Michael O'Neal (Dermot Mulroney)
Song: “The Way You Look Tonight” – Dermot Mulroney 

Why it's awesome: And here we are. At my number one. It's probably not what you expected. To be perfectly honest, it's not what I expected either. When I was ranking my list, I rewatched all the scenes and was surprised to find that this one touched me the most. Julianne and Michael are best friends. They previously had a brief relationship in college, but it has long been over. However, Julianne's feelings for Michael resurface when she learns that he is marrying someone else. She tries to split them up any way she can, but fails every time. Just before this dancing scene, Michael and Julianne are spending some alone time together and Julianne has the perfect opportunity to tell him how she feels, but she chokes. Michael mentions how he and his fiancee don't have a song and then begins singing his and Julianne's, "The Way You Look Tonight". He asks her to dance and she accepts, holding him close and silently crying because she knows that she ruined any chance of ever being with him long ago. Later on, at the end of the film, Julianne "gives" Michael and his wife the song and they dance to it at their wedding.


Anonymous said...

Boa cena essa de "Witness".

Anonymous said...

I would like to use the photo from "My boyfriend is back", for a poem I am writing...is it ok with you?