Save the Last Dance

Rated 2.0 A suburban white-bread ballerina (Julia Stiles), disillusioned with ballet since the death of her mother, moves in with her estranged father and attends a predominantly black school in downtown Chicago, where she becomes liberated by hip-hop culture and the love of an African-American classmate (Sean Patrick Thomas). It’s West Side Story without the songs or the sad ending, and with big dollops of Flashdance slopped in, but earnest acting can’t overcome the clichés and banal homilies of Duane Adler’s script—“You can’t help who you love. … Hey, man, you smarter than this”—or the lackluster direction of Thomas Carter. Another irritant is the clumsy editing to cover up the body-double dancing—Stiles’ and Thomas’ shoulders hardly seem to know what their feet are doing most of the time.