My Take On…ABC’s DIRTY DANCING
ABC’s DIRTY DANCING is an almost shot-for-shot re-do of the classic 1987 movie of the same name. Down to almost the exact same dialogue (watermelons included), the movie doesn’t re-boot so much as re-hashes a film we’ve already seen, and seen done way better. Where the original featured an awesome soundtrack and creative original choreography, this new version finds the cast singing the songs instead, and the dancing? Original maybe, boring yes.
Still the story of the coming of age over one magical summer for Frances “Baby” Houseman (Abigail Breslin, miscast, perhaps woefully, though she can cry very well), who is following in her father’s footsteps (here, a very good Bruce Greenwood), the ABC version expands on her mother’s (Debra Messing, not bad) unhappiness and her sister (Sarah Hyland) is much nicer than the Lisa we met in the 80s, as Baby paints the town red in her dancing shoes.
Johnny Castle (then Patrick Swayze, now Colt Prattes) is still a rakish charmer who dances his way in and out of bed with everything that moves (the luminous Katey Sagal as Vivian Pressman included; her “Fever” performance is so good). That is, of course, until Baby comes along, and he looks to change his dangerous ways.
What the original handled in storytelling – race relations, back-alley abortions, and class warfare – so does this remake, in somewhat more clunky and heavy-handed ways. Thankfully, Nichole Scherzinger was cast as Penny – she’s the strongest performer here, mixing singing, dancing, and surprising acting chops to stand out, easily, as the best part of the film.
Colt Prattes is 86 years old to Abigail Breslin’s 18ish (he seems closer in age to the “older lady” he’s dance-seducing, se-dancing?, than he is to his love interest). They have absolutely no chemistry and it feels a little uncomfortable to watch his lecherous older man se-dance her juvenile character. By the time they’re jamming to a techno-version of my favorite song from the original, “She’s Like the Wind,” (thank GOD it wasn’t excluded), my eyes had rolled so hard back into my head that I’m surprised they didn’t stay there.
The singing’s not bad; the story’s not bad (because it is the story we already know). It’s just not the kind of reboot we need (and don’t get me started on the epilogue that answers “What happens after the summer?”). To a new generation who may not have seen the original film, it’s a perfectly fine made-for-TV-movie that family can watch together – it could raise questions and start some interesting dialogue. My advice, however, would be to Amazon-Now that 30th Anniversary edition of the original, and watch that instead.