It’s the year of the dance movie remakes. First, “Footloose,” and now Lionsgate has announced the epic comeback of “Dirty Dancing.” The original not only turned Patrick Swayze into a star, but pulled in more than $200 million back in 1987 and was the first movie ever to sell a million video copies. Julia Dahl (“Uptown Girls”) will be writing the remake script, but there’s no news on who’ll be cast as Johnny or Baby, or whether they’ll bring back original choreographer Kenny Ortega (who directed the “High School Musical” series). [The Guardian]
“Dirty Dancing” was my fave when I was a tween, but after the disaster that was “Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights,” I hope they don’t screw this up! I’ve got some suggestions on how to not murder the classic movie memories.
- The Cast: Swayze’s character, Johnny Castle, was perfection, but if we’ve got to replace the Swayze, it can’t be one of these pretty boys. Even though Zac Efron is a kind of an excellent dancer, it has to be someone super badass, like maybe the lead in “Billy Elliot,” Jamie Bell, who’s muscled up and has that dangerous look in his eyes. And Jennifer Grey set a high bar for Frances “Baby” Houseman, so none of the Disney-produced beautiful girls will do. We need someone new, someone kind of weird-looking who can pull off cropped tees and bike shorts. Not to be all Anglophile, but someone like Emma Watson would be perfect. Doh, but it looks like Charlyne Yi and Channing Tatum are already auditioning!
- The Setting: Ahhh, family camp in New York’s Catskills. Don’t change a thing … unless it’s to cast British actors and plunk them into a countryside inn, maybe? The time setting will probably be an issue, as the original movie is set in the 1960s. I kinda think it should stay there, but if they do a modern remake, I hope they keep the spirit and avoid turning this into another ’80s-themed legwarmer fiasco. And please don’t throw in hip-hop and make the kids grind their way to love. Though, this could be interesting if it were set in the ’90s and they fell in love to Pavement and Nirvana, but how the hell would they dance to that?
- The Story: Spoiled rich girl falls for the dance instructor at a family resort one summer;his dance partner gets knocked up; little rich girl takes over; and they fall in love after some bizarre log-balancing dance rehearsals. One of the amazing things about “Dirty Dancing” was that they didn’t tip-toe around taboo topics like abortion, sex, class clashes, and what was essentially male prostitution with cougar guests. If they do anything to sugarcoat this movie, I’m storming out and writing Julia Dahl a strongly worded letter. For some reason, the scene where Baby carries a watermelon into the staff dance hall really sticks in my mind. She’s so unsure of herself when she steps through that door. It’s perfection. People with moral soap boxes have been arguing on message boards that the story doesn’t give our young women a good message since Johnny is much older than Baby and their union is practically statutory rape. Plus, it portrays an abortion (but really it shows how awful and dangerous they can be). But those people need to suck it up and realize that not every adolescent story is peachy keen rainbows and sunshine and nobody wants to watch a movie without conflict or hard decisions—it’s not interesting and it’s not realistic. Growing up is hard to do. True story.
- The Dancing: They kind of really need Kenny Ortega. I mean the guy is a genius. “Havana Nights” probably sucked so badly because he had nothing to do with it. The guy choreographed “Xanadu,” and choreographed and directed “Newsies” for Christ’s sake! Hopefully, they’ll keep this set in the ’60s so we can avoid the tragedy that was disco dancing, break-dancing, modern dancing, and … what did we do in the ’80s? Aerobic dancing? Ortega might have to make the dancing dirtier, and the finale will have to be huger, which will be a major undertaking since the Observer‘s Polly Vernon described it as “the most goosebump-inducing dance scene in movie history.” The challenge will be keeping it away from “High School Musical” intensity or “Grease 2″ disaster-dom.
What do you guys think? Is this remake is going to be a disaster, or is there some hope? Should they have just left Baby in the corner?