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‘Dirty Dancing’ remake can’t hold a candle to the original
Friday, 02 June 2017 11:02
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The small-screen remake of the 1987 sleeper mega-hit movie “Dirty Dancing,” which was filmed last summer in Western North Carolina and featured extras from the area, was telecast May 24 on ABC-TV and, while it had its bright spots, generally it was a flop — and even cringe-worthy.

The original “Dirty Dancing” was fueled by its high-energy characters, most notably handsome, swivel-hipped, charismatic Patrick Swayze as dance instructor Johnny Castle and the mesmerizing, deceptively pretty and obviously smart Jennifer Grey as Baby Houseman. Also, even though Swayze and Grey were known not to get along in real life, they had — indisputably — white-hot chemistry on-screen. (Tragically, Swayze died from pancreatic cancer at age 57 in 2009.)

In contrast, the “Dirty Dancing” remake featuring a fit-looking ColtPrattes as Johnny and a chunky Abigail Breslin as Baby plods along, drearily and lifelessly, and not only is there no spark between the two leads, scenes from the previous movie that were classic, such as “The Lift” of Baby over Johnny’s head, are recreated in the remake in such a dull way as to cause one to cringe. 

Indeed, the energy level putters along throughout this debacle in low gear. Could it be the cast was just going through the motions, realizing it could not eclipse the magnificent performances by Swayze and Grey about 30 years ago? One wonders.

Despite some changes, including development of some minor characters, such as Baby’s sister Lisa (played by Sarah Hyland) and her parents (Debra Messing and Bruce Greenwood), and the inclusion of African-Americans and more graphic sex scenes than in the original, it is, by and large, just a retread of a more enjoyable film, perhaps produced in a half-hearted attempt to capitalize on the 30th anniversary of a true movie classic.

And, perhaps it should come as no surprise that the original “Dirty Dancing” had a runtime of one hour 40 minutes, while the hefty remake slightly exceeds two hours, but was shown on TV in a three-hour slot. It was obvious that the remake was shot to accommodate a maddening number of commercial breaks. Ugh!

Also bizarre in the remake was that the characters constantly were shown singing to the music, even while dancing, It seemed ridiculous.

The “Dirty Dancing” remake was bloated and boring, while the original soared. Also, nobody seems to sweat in this version. And there’s hardly anything “dirty” in the film — and there’s not even much dancing.

The new version was shot a year ago, largely at Kanuga Conference Center, an Episcopal-affiliated retreat just south of Hendersonville. The KCC provided the rustic setting for the summer camp, along with the cabin scenes. A nightclub scene was shot in Saluda.Other scenes were filmed at High Hampton Inn in Cashiers and in Asheville.

The original was shot, largely, at Lake Lure in October 1987, when, reportedly, the water was so cold that the actors’ lips got so blue that close-ups were scrapped.

Ten students and staff at Pat’s School of Dance in Hendersonville were part of filming the remake. The participants included Sheraton Phillips, Dustin Phillips, Sarah DeVore, Daniel DeVore, John Daniel DeVore, Pat Shepherd, John Shepherd, April Freeman, Kaitlyn Harrington and Katelyn Ledbetter.

The original chart-topping soundtrack featured the Oscar-winning song, “(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life” by Billy Medley and Jennifer Warnes, as well as Swayzee’s “She’s Like the Wind” and Eric Carmen’s “Hungry Eyes,” while the remake’s soundtrack includes a Prattes-Sagal duet of Peggy Lee’s hit “Fever” and Bruce Greenwood, in the reprise, singing Frank Sinatra’s “They Can’t Take That Away From Me.”

In Swayze’s autobiography, “The Time of My Life,” he revealed that “the first cut of the original ‘Dirty Dancing’ was not received well and the producer commented, ‘Burn the negative and collect the insurance.’ But director Emile Ardolino’s faith in the film saved it.

“We all figured it would be a modestly successful movie, and not much more than that. My wife, Lisa, thought it was the kind of story people would be drawn to, but we had no idea what was coming, that after the movie opened we would be swallowed by a tidal wave of fame and attention,” writes Swayze.

To that end, in one of its most famous lines (and one that Swayze hated) in the original, Johnny boasts that “Nobody puts Baby in a corner,” but in the remake of “Dirty Dancing,” not only Baby — but the entire cast — is put in a corner of lifelessness from which there is no escape.



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