Dance ‘Til Dawn (1988) — Party like it’s 1989!

“Hey, I’ve got studs on my shirt. You know what that makes me, don’t you?”

Justin’s rating: The One Where Chandler Went Back to the Eighties

Justin’s review: Not all of us went to prom. I just want to put that out there. Movies and TV and, y’know, reality conditioned us to think that prom night was the single greatest moment of any teenager’s life — a transition to adulthood and a memory maker for the ages. Whether or not this actually is the case for anyone, I don’t know. As I said, I never went (our school didn’t have them), and yet somehow I became an adult and don’t list this among my great regrets.

Perhaps it’s because I have movies like Dance ‘Til Dawn to remind me that it would’ve been a mess of heightened expectations and social anxiety anyway. Everyone in this made-for-TV movie treats the prom like it’s the space shuttle launch, and boy do they not stop buzzing about it. This mess of teenagers gush over fashion, romance, sex, popularity, and various hijinks. For an introvert, it would’ve been a mild hell.

But hey, I’m always up for a party movie, especially if it was brewed in the neon haze of the ’80s. Originally airing on NBC, this movie juggles a multitude of storylines for its teen and adult cast There’s the nerdy girl who gets asked out by a jock expecting some smoochies, a girl and guy who avoid the prom for their own reasons but find each other, a couple that’s a little too stressed out trying to plan their whole lives, and various chaperones keeping track of them all.

What really makes Dance ‘Til Dawn stand out isn’t the performances or storylines (although, take your pick, there are enough of them to go around) but rather the astounding cast of sitcom stars that populated it. You’ve got Married with Children’s Christina Applegate, Growing Pains’ Tracey Gold and Alan Thicke, Cheers’ Kelsey Grammer, Who’s the Boss’ Alyssa Milano, Friends’ Matthew Perry, and The Cosby Show’s Temptestt Bledsoe. I guess they were all under contract or blackmailed or something, but it’s kind of glorious to see them packed together for this time capsule.

It actually does come across like a massive sitcom crossover, where everyone is bringing over their own acting styles and gunning it the way they would on their sets. Grammer is probably the most miscast out of the bunch, playing an uptight religious pharmacist (!?) tailing his daughter. The standout was Milano’s popularity-obsessed Shelley being thrust together with a pre-PCU Chris Young. The two of them have great comedic chemistry as they get into increasingly silly situations trying to avoid Shelley’s classmates.

Dance ‘Til Dawn survives an awkward start to develop into a fun and fairly funny outing with some rockin’ ’80s tunes. I wasn’t expecting it, but by the end, I was having a pretty great time. I think you might too!

Didja notice?

  • Why not buy a cactus for your prom date?
  • This movie is vomiting character exposition all over this mall
  • The drive-through fish speaker bit is genuinely hilarious
  • Boys and girls look way more attractive without glasses

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