I am a big fan of movies and I’ve been saying that for years. However, I have a special place in my heart for musicals and dancing movies. Therefore, the Dirty Dancing remake should have been right up my alley. I’ve even seen the stage version and thoroughly enjoyed it.
Obviously, as most of you know, the remake was terrible. But today, I want to talk about why. Why was this version so much worse than the original? It’s more than just because they tried to redo a perfect movie. Also, watch out for SPOILERS! Lots of them.
First, while I love Abigail Breslin, she was not the right choice for Baby. Why do I think that? In the original, Jennifer was not able to dance. Her hips moved in a square with no rhythm. However, after a few lessons with Johnny, and several trips up and down the stairs to his cabin, she learned. She became loose but firm, and it was pleasant to watch her dance. However, Abigail never got so lucky. I spent way too much time wondering when she was going to find her stride. The mambo at the Shelldrake was week 1 of Dancing with the Stars. I definitely wouldn’t have clapped loud enough for her to take three very vain bows.
Next, Johnny was sleeping with Vivienne! Let me repeat that for those of you that missed it. Johnny was sleeping with Vivienne while becoming emotional involved with Baby. I get it. They were trying to set up the watch thing. However, I did not like it. It sat with me wrong. Why? It’s certainly not because I’m a prude. It’s actually because when Penny tells him to call it off, he tells Vivienne he’ll be back in her bed later that night. Come on, bro! You’re supposed to be falling in love with Baby but you’re planning to fall into another woman’s bed. Your first night after breaking it off from the woman you claim to be in love with, should not be with another woman. This bothers me about Johnny’s character. He’s supposed to be the bad boy with the heart of gold but this ruins that. Okay, this may be a preference thing. I also missed the black pants. I kept waiting for them and the jeans with the cool white wash stains…they were not time period appropriate and were not black.
Okay, more on Johnny. I loved that he sang the songs. It was exciting for the musical lover in me. But the problem is that the songs got weirddddd. They were very far from the originals and sounded like a middle schooler got a soundboard. I also felt like the choreography was watered down so they could sing (which was odd because they weren’t singing live). A good example of this was the carried a watermelon scene (which by the way, they misquoted and I thought I was going to scream). He’s singing to her and is barely moving. It turns into walking around instead of the dirty grinding I wanted. In the original, they were really getting into it.
Speaking of singing…why did Vivienne sing Fever. I agreed with Dr. Houseman that it was time to leave. She, like Baby, couldn’t dance and just kind of walked around and over Johnny. I didn’t understand the point of this scene as it certainly didn’t advance the plot and if anything, it outed their relationship. We already knew she was a cougar. It was awkward, forced, and completely unnecessary. I felt like this scene was meant for Katey Sagal to have a bigger part. If that was the plan, just get a different actress. That being said, I did like the Debra Messing singing scene. I thought that was great and built the relationship between the Housemans. It also advanced Baby’s plot because afterwards, she runs to Johnny and has the one scene that she did well. But, back to Messing, I also think her singing scene would have been appropriate and perfect even if Sagal didn’t perform her awkward interpretation of a burlesque number.
My final thought was on the ending. I love that Baby became a writer because she made her own choice instead of the forced doctor one. We don’t know that she didn’t do both but that’s okay. If she did, then at least she let out some of her creativity. I love that Johnny was choreographing on broadway. However, why do you have them meet up again and not bring them together? She could have been divorced, she could have been a widow, she could have been single. Why make her married so she can flaunt her new husband in front of Johnny’s face? And if you do that, where is Johnny’s hot dancer wife? All this ending did was prove that Baby got this perfect life and moved on while Johnny stares at her as if she is the last piece of cake. Yes, it is cute that he says “keep dancing” but I don’t want her to keep dancing. I want her to run into his arms and give us the happily ever after for Baby and Johnny that we all assumed (or hoped) they got at the end of the original. Everything, to include the cheesy sing-a-long at the beginning, was like a lifetime movie. Why didn’t we get a lifetime movie ending? At least they should have started to dance in the theater.
They’ve tried to remake Grease (don’t get me started on that disaster) and failed, the same with Hairspray, and Sound of Music (Sorry Carrie). I think what we’ve learned from all of this is that casting directors need to stop looking at Hollywood for their stars and look for people with talent instead of a name. They need to be able to act, sing, and dance…but most importantly, they need to be able to do all three at the same time. If that means you pick someone who has never been in a movie, then so be it. People will watch no matter what but they won’t keep coming back if this continues.
There were some good things about this remake. I don’t want it to seem like it was completely awful. Nicole was an amazing Penny. I liked her attitude, her dancing, her singing, and (for the most part) her acting. I liked that the Housemans got a little bit of a plot in here. It was nice to see grown adults having grown problems that don’t involve cheating. I liked the Sarah Hyland character development. She became more than just the vapid girl and her son at the end was beautiful as opposed to the part I skip in the original. Her role was pretty cheesy but I can handle a little cheesy.
About the Author
Sarah Fischer is a background investigator and a romance novelist. She lives in Maryland with her husband and two cats. You can usually find her at the movies or road tripping to New York for a new play. Her books, First Semester and Craving Bad: A Bad Boys and Wicked Girls Anthology
Both Books Can Be Seen HERE