Clean Dancing, the Monster that Ate An Eighties Icon and then Pooped It Out For Three Hours

movieposter

 

Yeah, see title for how this ‘review’ will go.

So!! I read/saw where ABC had remade Dirty Dancing. What? Why? Those were my actual reactions to this ‘news’. As actual news right now [OMG just shoot me in the face with a nuclear warhead, please] seems to be a bit, um, ahem. I see that Abigail Breslin, of Little Miss Sunshine and Nim’s Island fame, will play the part of Baby. Huh. Okay. I can’t seem to find who will fill in for Patrick Swayze’s sexy, sweltering, holy crap can that guy dance, Johnny Castle. I still don’t know. I have no urge to even google it. None.

maxresdefault.jpg

Personal note: I watched the original and only Dirty Dancing with my mother and grandmother. It has special meaning to me. I know it’s quite shallow and blah blah, but it’s also a fun movie with some great dance sequences. It’s one of those lightning in a bottle movies, that no one should try and remake, recapture or make shitty sequels to. M’kay???!!!!

So, ABC advertises ‘You’ll Have the Time of Your Life’ and flashes some names. Debra Messing is about the only one I remember. Oooooh and Bruce Greenwood, poor sap who seems to get roped into a lot of teenybopper crap. [That remake of Endless Love. Remember that? It’s okay, no one else does, either.] And I know who Abby Breslin is. I’m a bit curious and wondering why Dirty Dancing would be three hours long. I feel a bit of gentle nostalgia suckering me into tuning in for this ‘new’ DD.

So I watched it. And I dedicated my soul to Satan to avenge myself on the powers that be that got this dreck onto the small screen where innocent and guilty alike were forever harmed by it. Yeah, that’s the actual reaction I had. I went out looking for a crossroads, carrying a fiddle and dragging a goat along behind me in case Satan demanded some sort of animal sacrifice.

Um, I like Breslin. She’s a competent actress. However, here, in the DD monstrosity that slimed the ABC airwaves for THREE FUCKING HOURS, she seemed like one of those people reading a statement from their captors, with their eyes constantly flicking toward the gun held on them that we can’t see. She tried. She really did. However, her Baby came off as a twelve year old, not a ready to take on the world powerhouse to be that Jennifer Grey infused the original Frances ‘Baby’ Houseman with. Now, I might be projecting a wee bit; Grey might have actually played Baby in a perfunctory manner. I can utterly believe Grey’s Baby taking on the establishment and her parents for Johnny…I vibrate between derisive laughter and ragestrokes watching Breslin’s Baby stumble about like a hostage told to read the lines or else.

dirty-dancing-featured tvline.jpg
from TV-Line. Some guy and A. Breslin as Johnny and Baby.

The dude taking on Johnny Castle…um. Eh. I don’t remember much about him except he TRIED REALLY HARD to act tough. And I don’t remember thinking, at all, ever, that he could dance. Was that actor a dancer? Any dance training? Uh…? So when he and Breslin smashed themselves together in the dirty dancing sequence– where the dance kids are shaking their tail feathers to someone SINGING THE DAMN SONGS because covers of those originals…ugh, Satan, help help!! Anyhoo!! When Breslin and nameless New Jersey-esque wannabe “dance”, I had to look away. It was like watching a baby chick get molested by a dead rattlesnake. That makes no sense, but hey, go with it.

Poor Breslin did the can’t dance stuff so well! Too bad she can’t actually dance. Why someone cast her in a movie all about DANCING…? I don’t get it. Did no one watch the rough footage of this and go, hey, we might need to get an actress who can dance? Breslin does fine in the overly emotional scenes. She seems sixteen, not twelve, in those scenes. Where she’s upset with daddy and…can’t remember any other scenes where she had to be ‘upset’. It all just blurs together in a scarlet mist! With a lot of spluttering cuss words escaping my clenched teeth.

entertainment tonight.jpg
from Entertainment Tonight. Are people watching us? 

Oh, the whole abortion thing was kept in.  And the ‘writers’ fleshed out Lisa, Baby’s sister. Who has a ‘friendship’ with one of the black kids at the resort. No, this far more interesting and actually quite timely issue doesn’t get explored much beyond…they sing a song together for the talent show. That abortion angle, also, gets used to hurry the Baby-Johnny pairing along…kinda like in the original, but still. Penny doesn’t go to jail for getting an illegal abortion and Robby, who knocked her up and left her to sink or swim, doesn’t get his recommendation from Dr. Houseman. [Call the Midwife had a show on a desperate woman performing an abortion on herself and the consequences thereof– she nearly bled to death and had to face the police over it. If you want an actual glimpse into what women faced in the past on reproductive choices. Or you can ask older members of your own family. As they have stories to tell.]

Marge, Baby and Lisa’s mummy, and Bruce Greenwood, [I cannot recall Dr. Houseman’s first name, and if I don’t vomit this all out in one go, I will hate myself until the end of time] are having marital problems. They work them out, of course, with a SONG. Because…DD is now a MUSICAL. No, really. People burst into song now! That soundtrack from Dirty Dancing gets turned into unremarkable cover versions that just lay there and ask us to quietly dispatch them before they escape and do real damage.

Ugh.

Yeah, I’m all over the place here, so bear with me. DD starts off with Baby, about ten years after the events at Kellerman’s, attending some Broadway show entitled, wait for it, DIRTY DANCING, with, I assume, Johnny Castle either in it or involved with it somehow. We then flashback to Baby and her family arriving at the resort…and end

[SPOILER ALERT. LOOK AWAY]

the three hour bloated atrocity with Baby telling Johnny Castle his choreography was great, or good or not as bad as she’d heard it would be. My ragestroking had kicked in at this point, so I might have heard stuff that didn’t actually exist outside my tiny red world of WHYYYYYYY. Also…to totally kill me off, what other reason for tacking on that five minute evisceration– Baby’s husband and child come flapping down the theatre aisle and we get the most awkward moment ever filmed between the twelve-year-old yet looking Breslin and the why am I here again Johnny Castle-lite non-stud. My eyes!! My brain melted! I thought Manos, Hands of Fate, had thoroughly topped my list of Worst Movie Ever Made. Nope!! I would cheerfully watch Manos and kiss its greasy, awful frames with a glad heart after sitting through three hours of Clean Dancing, the Advertiser’s Special Cut.

fathom events.jpeg
from Fathom Events. Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Gray as Johnny Castle and Baby Houseman. 

Oh and the sex scenes…How they managed to take what was truly a celebrated journey of a girl’s journey into womanhood at the hands of a relatively nice seducer [Shhh, from those of you giggling in the back! Nostalgia isn’t what it used to be. Any Gilmore Girls fans??]…and turn it into an awkward, laughable, cringe-inducing spectacles…sigh. It became too hard to believe that these two, Baby 2.0 and Johnny 2.0, felt anything at all for each other but relief that they would get a paycheck after this was all filmed. He crept over into creepy older man territory. [As Breslin, indeed, seemed very much a baby here.] I never got that from the original pair. Grey and Swayze seemed well matched; she might have been eighteen and he not eighteen or anywhere near it, but she also didn’t seem a child. They seemed matched and equal in a way that the new pair of Baby and Johnny did not. That’s as close and as personal as I want to get with that topic.

There was no spark at all between NewBaby and NewJohnny; that was the biggest crime of all in this ill-conceived reworking. Would new casting have fixed this problem and created a brand spanking great new version of DD? Probably not. There was a reason the original movie worked. Why it soared into the stratosphere. The late Eighties and what was going on. Reagan, conservative values, racial unrest, still fighting the Commies, everything old is new again, no good dance movies since, what, Flashdance? What a feeling! I can have it all! What a feeling!

The chemistry of the two leads. Jennifer Gray and Patrick Swayze! And stories coming out that they ‘didn’t get along’. Ugh! They got along fabulously on screen, so whatever went on off camera fucking helped. Maybe we’ll get an eight hour miniseries from Ryan Murphy on this called– Baby In the Corner, The True Tale of Swayze and Grey.

The dancing…yeah, there was actual dancing in the original movie. Fun, sexy, outrageous [at that time, hello] dancing that made those watching go wide-eyed, a bit squirmy and fall totally in love with Baby, the minute she stammers out, “I carried a watermelon”, when Johnny demands to know why a guest has to crash the off-duty fun of the staffers. Because she was us and not us at all. Awkward and then a dance maven who gets to stand up for something. [Admit it, you’re not a crusader or that good at dancing. Admit it!!] Oh and, those watching, they just go all goofy when Johnny plucks Baby into the middle of that crowded dance floor among the other staffers grinding away…damn. When he’s teaching her to dirty dance and we’re totally getting why Baby finds Mr. Castle a bit intriguing. Yeah, we’re totally with her. She can’t dance, yet…but we see she can dance, with a little instruction and a little gumption from her own sassy self.

Yeah, you don’t get that at all from Baby 2.0.

NewBaby has no gumption! None. There’s nothing there at all. A director or a team thereof, told Breslin where to stand and sit and she stands and sits.

Now!! Was the original DD one of the bestest movies ever made on planet earth? Of course not. Does it have an undeniable charm and some truly fantastic dance sequences? Yep. Did Gene Kelly, Fred Astaire, Cyd Charisse, Ginger Rogers and so forth, take dancing to the next level decades earlier? Fuck yeah, fellow babies! You want to watch dance masters and mistresses, old MGM musicals for the win! Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, for one. That barn-building ballet alone, wowsers! And West Side Story, hello and goodbye. And…there’s a list. Everyone can argue the merits of their fave dance-heavy movies on their own damn blogs.

Where was I in this rage-induced scream against the dying of the light?

This movie, obviously, means something to me. I watched it, for the first time, in the dorms at Eastern Oregon University, then called EOSC– Eastern Oregon State College. A roomful of eighteen to twenty-somethings, enjoying the hell out of Baby’s journey. We catcalled and hooted and laughed and cheered. I later watched DD with my mother and grandmother and assorted family when my grandmother spent her Social Security bucks on a brand-spanking new VCR. We rented, yes, Dirty Dancing, from the local video store. [Remember when you could rent movies from an actual store?? Oh how technology doth make fools of us all.] There’s a giant gob of GoodTimesExperienced attached to Dirty Dancing, that have nothing whatsoever to do with the technical, or artistic merits of that film.

I won’t get much more maudlin than that.

To sum up this all over the map screamwhine of a ‘review’…IT SUCKED BALLS.

I’m not the only one to hatewatch this new retelling of DD, either. It wasn’t just me! Apparently, I was one of five people to actually make it all the way to the end. Most gave up twenty minutes in. Oh and Peg Bundy sang Fever. [Or Gemma Teller, for the Sons of Anarchy fans.] She was the older desperate ‘bungalow bunny’, who paid Johnny to make her feel like a natural woman. Yeah. [As I’m a Sons of Anarchy fan, watching her on SOA and then watching her sleep her way through the ghastly shitbird that was DD actually made the little hairs on the back of my neck raise up. I felt them. Rising up. They were trying to warn me to find something else to watch.]

I’ll end this with my FB post:

Um. What the holy flippety flip was that Dirty Dancing remake? I think the Apocalypse is actually nigh. Why?? Why would…I just can’t…I can’t even form…ugh…I can’t…I have to pretend, now, that I didn’t watch it, I have to pretend now that no one took DD and turned it into…that. [Was there actual dancing in that thing??Why can’t I remember any dancing?? MY BRAIN DOESN’T WORK ANYMORE.]

I need some homemade dandelion wine and my VHS copy of the actual Dirty Dancing. Dance, Patrick, dance!

dirty-dancing.jpg
from Flavorwire. Dance, Johnny, dance!

#MyEyes #HelpMeWine#OhMyNeedToPackForEndOfWorld #KillThatThingWithFire

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.