November 4, 2019  (Web Review)

I Am Patrick Swayze

(2019) 92 min. DVD: $19.99. Virgil Films (avail. from most distributors). Closed captioned.

Reviewer rating: 3.0/4

Paramount adds to its branded stable of biographies of (generally ill-fated) stars, here following I Am Heath Ledger (VL-9/17) and I Am Sam Kinison (VL-3/18) with the iconic leading man from Dirty Dancing (1987), who showed formidable acting range before his tragic death due to pancreatic cancer at the age of 57. The square-jawed product of a singular Texas upbringing that mixed fine-arts and ballet (with harsh aesthetic discipline) and outgoing, sports-based machismo, the down-to-earth Swayze danced in the Eliot Feld ballet troupe in NYC prior to trying his luck in Hollywood, accompanied by his wife and fellow dancer Lisa Niemi. His charisma and rugged physique brought him positive notices and a breakthrough role in Francis Ford Coppola’s star-packed 1983 adaptation of S.E. Hinton’s YA novel The Outsiders. Swayze came across as an exciting yet vulnerable sex symbol, who was also a magnetic, ultra-competitive performer. Swazye was happier being with Niemi and horses on their ranch than attending movie premieres. On the set he demanded to do his own stunts—Marshall Teague, playing the villain in Road House (1989), here claims that their screen brawls in the cult actioner were real (by mutual agreement). Swayze also bared his thespian muscles in Ghost (1990), City of Joy (1992), and the drag queen dramedy To Wong Foo Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar (1995). His brother Don, widow Lisa, running costar C. Thomas Howell, City of God director Roland Joffe, and leading ladies Demi Moore and Jennifer Grey join in the homage, and it would be fair to say for Ghost fans that by the end of this documentary Swayze has added another effective romantic tearjerker to his oeuvre. Recommended. Aud: P. (C. Cassady)