This film had a lot to live up to. The new stars are Abigail Breslin as Baby, Colt Prattes as Johnny and Nicole Scherzinger as Penny.
There’s not many who don’t know the overall plot so I won’t go into as much detail. For those who still haven’t seen the original Dirty Dancing, a young girl called Baby goes with her family on holiday to Kellermans – a holiday camp, the film is set in 1963, she’s very sheltered and naive. She meets a dance instructor called Johnny and learns to dance, she teaches him to stand up for himself and he teaches her to follow her heart. They fall in love.
This review will be more about my opinions about the remake.
Spoiler Alert! Spoiler Alert!
The new film started differently, with Baby as an adult going to a production of Dirty Dancing, you see the film as if you’re in the theatre with her and then when it’s finished there’s some interaction with Johnny whose made the film and bumps into her as everyone is leaving the theatre.
The remake is still set in 1963. One plot hole is how can Baby be in a theatre watching her younger self? Are you supposed to assume she’s dreaming about her time at Kellermans?
The changes were the parents – played by Bruce Greenwood (Pike in Star Trek) and Debra Messing (Will & Grace) – were more focused on, Lisa and Baby were more catty with each other, Lisa had more air time and Vivienne Pressman had a larger role.
Some of the original songs were kept but sometimes played in a different scene.
There were some different tracks played like The Mambo song that Max cuts short when Johnny and Penny dance with each other on the first evening. However Max introduced them in the first place so cutting them here doesn’t make sense. (In the original they were supposed to dance with the guests which was why Max cut their performance.)
There was no magic act for Baby to attend. Omitted was Baby finding Penny cowering in the kitchen.
Vivienne Pressman sings ‘You give me fever’ in the most cringe worthy scene I’ve ever seen. It went on too long and I’m still trying to forget it!
In a family themed holiday camp, the management wouldn’t have let her get away with fawning over Johnny like she did. She wasn’t being subtle! Only Jake seems to leave finding it vulgar yet everyone else including Marge is avidly watching her gyrate away.
In a later scene Vivienne tries giving Johnny a valuable watch and wants a relationship. She is divorced. In this time period divorced women would come across a very unforgiving public but nobody seemed to care. Her friends were in awe of her divorcing.
There was a live singer in the staff room, the songs were swapped and ’Love Man’ played first, but it looked like ‘Do you Love Me’ song was sung by Johnny to Baby.
The scene in which Robbie and Johnny trade insults is done in a different way. Max makes it much clearer the dancers are cannon fodder and waiters who come from ’good homes’ will always be preferred and Max is happy to replace dancers as and when.
Penny was played more like a wig hustler ‘Buy my wigs’ and obviously as Nicole was playing Penny, she got to sing and dance. No surprises there. But Penny plugging the wigs was very annoying, the guests try them on for fun – not to buy them.
Jake and Marge talk about travelling but it’s clear Marge is very unhappy with her husband devoting his life to work and contemplates divorcing him at one point. She wants some loving. Why the audience needs more information on Jake and Marge is baffling. It takes time out from Johnny and Baby.
Also changing is Johnny claiming to be the father of Penny’s baby to Jake. How this shields Penny who had a dalliance with Robbie resulting in the pregnancy is confusing. (In the original it was a misunderstanding. Jake asked ‘whose responsible for this girl?’ And Johnny assumed he meant who looks after her and not whose the father of the baby.)
When Baby gets the $250 Penny needs to see a doctor to have an abortion, she says Johnny can teach her to dance in exchange for lending the money.
Penny also teaches Baby to the song ‘A Whole of Shaking Going On.’
There was a disturbing scene in where Robbie attacks Lisa whilst they’re on the beach. She has to fight him off.
These modern themes such as assaults even racism is shown etc were added obviously to update the film but they had no place. That’s not what Dirty Dancing was about. They forgot the time period they were in (and the magic, fun and passion!).
The leads had no charisma together and looked more like they were going through the motions because the director was telling them to.
The only good thing about this film was that Neil Kellerman was still a jerk.
Scene bloopers noticed:
Johnny having a magic vest under his white shirt that kept coming and going in the same scene – watch carefully!
In the scene where Johnny has to leave the camp, he packs a truck with his stuff only to zoom off on a motorcycle!
(And what did they do to ‘She’s Like the Wind’?)
However the ending and the insult dance routine to ‘I’ve Had the Time Of My Life’ was the last straw. The routine was more akin to something at an amateur ballroom rather than the satisfying routine of the original.
When Baby and Johnny talk after the movie in the theatre it’s very unsatisfying and does not bring a good ending.
1. How did this film get approved and financed?
2. Was that really Lando from Star Wars playing Tito? And why did he do it?
It can only ever be a 1/10 from me. The phrase ‘if it’s not broken don’t fix it’ really applies here.
Image reproduced from Wikipedia.
Trailer reproduced from Hollywire TV.
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