Before we learned what heartbreak was from the opening montage of Pixar's Up, Save the Last Dance ranked up there pretty high in terms of bummer opening montages in a movie.
The first 5+ minutes of the film details why Stiles' character is taking a train to move to Chicago to be with her estranged father. She quit ballet after her mom was killed in a car accident while rushing to her daughter's Juilliard audition.
To establish how much of a square Stiles' character is on her first day of school, the filmmakers really go all out.
Half-braided ponytail, glasses, overalls, and the book bag on both shoulders... It wasn't enough to just have her walk around generally confused by her new school.
Also, following her take in 10 Things I Hate About You (1999), Stiles perfected the role of a high school student telling it like it is in English class.
This time the book is just Truman Capote's In Cold Blood instead of Hemingway or Sylvia Plath.
After we meet Stiles' soon-to-be-BF Sean Patrick Thomas, who's is prepping to go to "doctor school," as one of his friends says, we meet his sister... Kerry "It's Handled" Washington.
That's right, may we please take a moment to remember Kerry Washington plays Julia Stiles' BFF in this movie and actually gets to act the hell out of it as a young, single mom trying to balance motherhood, school, and the relationship with her son's father?
Washington's character is such a good friend she immediately accepts Stiles, gives her a tour of the school and how to fit in, gets her into a dance club, lends out her hoop earrings to make her new gal-pal look cool, and turns Stiles' Gap sweater into a head wrap to make her look a bit more fly at the club, STEPS.
We also love the moment when Washington tells Stiles to ditch "cool outfit" for "slammin' outfit" instead. Oh 2001 lingo, we miss you.
The school's class clown, who is also a DJ, gets Stiles into the club.
Fun fact: His nickname, Snooki, is reportedly how Jersey Shore's Nicole "Snooki" Polizzi got her nickname too. An inside joke never goes away, kids.
The Save the Last Dance version of Snooki gets Stiles into the club despite the fact that literally all of STEPS appears to be her underage high school classmates. Why do you need a fake ID if your entire senior class can get in?
One of the classmates, Bianca Lawson, who looks like a high school bully version of Aaliyah, has it out for Stiles, since she used to date Thomas.
Even Lawson has tweeted about Aaliyah comparisons, so it's not just us.
Since Thomas' character formerly dated a girl who could dance hip-hop, he takes his new crush Stiles under his wing for some after school dance lessons.
The dance lesson scenes are, of course, super-cute, as we watch the two develop some chemistry, but also hilarious to watch now.
Is he purposefully teaching her dude dance moves?
Because sitting with your legs apart and grunting is usually not how ladies get attention at the club.
When Stiles returns to the club, in what appear to be butterfly hair clips, so you know she's ready to throw down, we get to see her new dance routine with Thomas.
The club chants "go, Sarah!" as moves around the floor. Granted, they only learned one dance in the lesson montage, but luckily, that's all they seem to need.
These are the scenes that led to awards for this movie. No, it wasn't an Oscar contender (robbed! We know.) However, the movie scored 2001 MTV Movie Awards for Best Kiss, Breakthrough Male Performance, Best Female Performance, and Best Dance Sequence.
We're still in pre-Step Up days here.
When Stiles and Thomas' characters finally hook up for the first time, they do the classic movie lovemaking move... stand in front of each other and drop their clothing to the floor slowly while facing one another in a well-lit room.
The most passionate approach.
Their relationship progresses as Thomas helps Stiles train for another Juilliard audition, and he resists getting tangled up again in gang violence with his old friend.
Though his pal does prove how tough he is, with an epic diss toward Stiles...
Once Thomas' pal ends up in cuffs after a shooting, Washington and her son's dad try to make it work, and Thomas and Stiles get into their dream universities, the movie wraps up with "Main Squeeze Night" at STEPS.
By this point, Stiles is wearing her maximum amount of braids and her most-revealing club shirt and is confidently busting moves.
As for the resolution? In case you forgot, the film doesn't leave things in a perfect package.
The young couple will not be attending the same colleges in the fall, and there's no telling if they end up staying together.
One thing is for sure though, they should probably stop hanging out in night clubs filled with 17-year-olds now.