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Why We Love the Original ‘Dirty Dancing’

Tonight’s ABC ‘Dirty Dancing’ reboot has us waxing nostalgic for the ’80s cult classic. Check out all the reasons why we think the original can’t be beat.

Looking at the reviews about the latest version of Dirty Dancing, which stars Abigail Breslin as Baby and Colt Prattes as Johnny, it seems it may have fallen short of the original ’80s classic. Considering this reboot is a TV movie and on a network show like ABC, expect less groin gyrating movements and more Disney family fun and on-the-nose dialogue. But to be fair, even if ABC’s reboot is a dud, it’s not an exception; all other previous reboots have never come close to capturing the magic that Jennifer Grey and Patrick Swazye sparked.

Check out all of our reasons why 1987’s Dirty Dancing was a blockbuster hit:

The Cast

Chemistry is everything. The combination of professional acting chops and foxtrotting nimbleness among actors Jennifer Grey, Patrick Swayze and Cynthia Rhodes gave the film its center. (And don’t forget the great Jerry Orbach as Baby’s daddy — not to be confused with baby daddy. His jig at the end of the film was fun to watch, too!)

The Writing

Without good writing, even the best actors can’t save a film. With memorable lines like: “Nobody puts Baby in a corner” (Johnny); “I carried a watermelon” (Baby); and “Go back to your playpen, Baby” (Penny), you know there’s nothing stale and generic in dialogue like that.

The Story

Young, rich naive girl falls in love with poor, hot experienced rebel stud. Add on some sexual tension via provocative dancing, along with taboo subjects like abortion and old-people-turned-robbers (heya, Mr. and Mrs. Schumacher!), and you’ve got some great conflicts that the characters have to shimmy out of.

The Music

I’ve had the time of my liiife! The soundtrack to Dirty Dancing was feel-good nostalgia heaven. Not only were there 60s classics like The Ronettes’ “Be My Baby,” Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons’ “Big Girls Don’t Cry” but there were also modern hits like Bill Medley & Jennifer Warnes’  “(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life,” Eric Carmen’s “Hungry Eyes,” and of course Patrick Swayze’s power ballad “She’s Like the Wind.” 

Uh, Duh . . .The Dancing

Unlike Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling‘s two steppin’ in La La Land (which critics pummeled), Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey knew how to work a room beyond Kellerman’s. Swayze had been a trained dancer since he was a child, thanks to his mother who had been the director of the Houston Jazz Ballet Company, while Grey had some dancing in her genes, too; her father was Joel Grey, the Tony and Oscar-winning dancing dynamo emcee in Cabaret.

With the addition of a raucous, amazingly limber cast of dancers who was headed by choreographer Kenny Ortega, a student of Gene Kelly‘s, the dance sequences were magnetic, celebratory, and one of a kind.