Friday, May 26, 2017

Dirty, Disappointing Dancing

I could not stop watching the trainwreck that was Dirty Dancing 2017 (though I only watched it in fits and starts while washing the dishes). I was never a huge DD fan, but I mostly watched it because I wanted to see how someone would update/alter it.

The problem with DD for me has always been that the heart of the story is kind of icky, if you think about it: Teenage girl helps a pregnant dance instructor after her botched abortion and then, on that same evening, even though she has just witnessed this horrible thing, rushes to Johnny Castle's cabin and begs him to sleep with her (without any discussion of birth control, etc.). And yet, the original was still somehow charming and was campy (like the old ladies who try to dirty dance in the last scene), which took away the ick. This version was stilted and at times grim. And it emphasized the original’s icky elements: Abigail Breslin (despite being 21) looked like she was in middle school while the actor playing Johnny looked like he was in his late 20s. Yes, Baby is supposed to be innocent, but this made it look almost indecent. (Patrick Swayze's Johnny was sweet and vulnerable, which made it easier to see him with a teenager.)  And in the original, Johnny mentions having older female clients paying for private lessons, but it’s mostly implied. Here it shows him with Katie Sagal in a negligee more than once (with whom he had a lot more chemistry than with Ms. Breslin).

I didn’t mind the parent’s marital problems being added in (I assume to help extend the thing to a 3-hour broadcast), mostly because it took time away from seeing Baby and Johnny interact. I also didn’t mind Ms. Breslin’s limited dance skills, as some on the Internet have complained about, because I thought it was a more truthful representation of what someone would actually learn in a week of lessons. But I was hoping she would improve by the end—the last dance was pretty unimpressive and it's supposed to be the wow number.

The worst thing was the La La Land ending. What? The whole idea is that love triumphs. We don't need to be reminded of reality in the last shot.

Oh well, I cleaned my kitchen, etc., so I lost no time on this.

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