Thursday, May 25, 2017

Dirty Dancing (2017)


     Not since Trump's win of the presidential election has there been such an outcry of rage and downright drama in the Twitter world (there was actually someone on Twitter who compared it to Trump's election). Last night ABC premiered the remake of the 1987 classic film Dirty Dancing. The sleeper hit that took the world by storm and launched the career of Patrick Swayze as both a dancer and an actor. However, long before the remake premiered, there were already protests from film devotees and purists railing about what a crime it was to remake such a classic.

    Now, I didn't grow up with the movie. I only saw it for the first time last year. So naturally I was curious. I guess it's the fan-fiction writer in me that's always modifying stories in my head that makes me so comfortable and even excited for remakes. Fan-fic writers are always looking for a way to make the story better, stronger, different. Wanting to delve deeper in lesser known characters and storylines.  And ABC's Dirty Dancing did just that. 

"Now, I've had

the time of

my life"

      While there is no need to review the actual story, I will say that one thing I was very happy about is that they actually had period appropriate style! My older sister loves the original, but the costumes and the hair were all screaming late 80's! It drives her crazy and so upon watching the remake, we were both impressed by the correct and accurate costuming from the early 60's. And the costumes are beautiful! So, A+ for the wardrobe! 


     I was quite content with the casting as well. Abigail Breslin gave Baby Houseman a more saucy and independent personality. She definitely had some great humorous moments, while also providing intense emotional scenes that gave more depth to Baby's character. However, Abigail has been acting since she was five years old and quite frankly it was difficult watching the love scenes (nothing graphic or inappropriate) and thinking, "Oh yeah, she's not the cute kid from Signs anymore. She's grown up."However, she did very well, even though she would not have been my first choice for Baby. 

     While no one can replace Patrick Swayze, Colt Prattes was wonderful! His dancing is extraordinary and his singing...WOW! Oh yeah, there is actual singing in this one too! Anyway, Colt played Johnny as more of a greaser who has no problem picking a fight with people. He also gives a little more background information on his life and why he is desperate to make it as a dancer. Very good performance that can rank right under Patrick.

     Nicole Scherzinger as Penny is just as sweet and lovable as the original. She and Baby have their own dance number which is absolutely fantastic. She is by far the best dancer in the whole movie and for many seemed to be the only saving grace of the remake.  


      The remake fleshed out the Houseman family in a way that made the family as a whole more relatable and real. They weren't a picture perfect family. They were flawed and damaged and even at a breaking point. Through the Houseman family, we see varying degrees of love whether it's first love, lost love or unexpected love. Each member is impacted in some way during their vacation and I thoroughly enjoyed watching the developing characters and their individual stories come together.

     Lisa Houseman (Sarah Hyland) was not as aggravating or annoying and learns very quickly the consequences of stupid mistakes. Dr. Jake Houseman (Bruce Greenwood) and Marjorie Houseman (Debra Messing) are a couple that are secret struggling to hold on to their marriage. Jake is a brilliant doctor who has put work in front of his family and now faces losing his wife. While Marjorie, who is the quintessential 50's housewife, begins to wonder if the feminist idea of single womanhood is a better life for her. Honestly, I was more wrapped up in Jake and Marjorie's romance than I was in Johnny and Baby's!


     One concern I did have was that the movie focused on second wave feminism such as Betty Frieden's "The Feminine Mystique" and was a woman better off without a man? However, the movie was very balanced. It didn't push any feminist agenda at all, but was rather used as a historical factor for the changing times for women in the 60's. The end of the movie was rather shocking and bittersweet (and guess what? Fans hated it!), but I thought it was done very well. Baby ends up defying social norms all over the board and becomes successful in every avenue of her life, but it would have never had happened were it not for that summer in 1963. 

     While it may not have had the cute quirkiness of the '87 original ABC's Dirty Dancing definitely had more depth and emotion. Everyone in Baby and Johnny's sphere are affected by what the two of them set out to do. Being a musical lover, I enjoyed the musical/dance numbers and there is some exceptional talent among the cast. I may be in a incredibly small minority to say this, but I find this remake to be absolutely lovely, heartbreaking and just as charming and as emotional as the original. 


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