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Dirty Dancing (2017)
Not Bad, Overambitious, 5.5 Stars (6 on a round)
I'll use the original as a jumping off point. Elenore Bergstien grew up in this world and had firsthand knowledge of it. It shows in the way the movie captures the time period. This is a love story. It's a coming of age story. They chose 1963 for that specific reason as the beginning monologue. Baby begins as a 'Jewish American Princess'. From the beginning, she does not fit into and is not comfortable in the world she is born into. She doesn't necessarily question it, but takes it for granted which adds to her alienation from that world. It's contrasted by her sister Lisa who fits that world perfectly. The divide between Baby and Johnny is economic (wealthy / working class) and ethnic (Jewish / Gentile).
With Johnny, she enters a new world where she does fit, but is a departure from her prescribed role which is what makes her speech to her father very powerful. When she gets out of that corner, she chooses not only Johnny, but his world.
Swayze and Gray were chosen because they could dance. Part of what is brought out in Baby is sexiness that was always underlying. Moving on to the 2017 movie. It was a made-for, meaning they had to clean it up some. I went in with the mentality to appreciate it for what it is. It was a respectable attempt. It is a hit-or-miss affair, with equal parts hit and equal parts miss. Basically, it was the good, the OK and the bad. Most of my issues are aesthetic and with the script itself. They may have tried to do too may things and take the story in too many different directions. The side stories don't add anything to the plot. They don't detract from it either. Also the fact that they tried to do so much within the plot meant that they really didn't fully commit to any of it. However, it has a little something for everyone. if you give it a fair shake. Was it just me, or did the actor playing Max Kellerman look an awful lot like Ted Danson? First comes the good. I enjoyed the singing . Colt Prattes' Johnny grew on me as the movie progressed. He's a decent singer and dancer. He did well with what he was given. When the stage musical inevitably comes to Broadway with the requisite wide-release, movie musical, he could be tapped to reprise the role. Kudos to the writers for not making the sister annoying as all get out.
Abigale Breslin was OK as Baby. One thing I noticed was that, during the lift scenes , her legs were spread-eagle where Grey's were closed. It's a small detail, but it doesn't look very pretty aesthetically. This can be chalked up to the fact that Grey had dance training and Breslin didn't. Grey knew and had a feel for how to make it look pretty. Breslin also has a different body type than Grey did. She's chunkier and bustier than Grey. Again, this is a small thing, but it makes things look different aesthetically.
Some people said that the scenes that were supposed to be sexy were not. I think that has to do with Breslin as an actress. She hasn't figured out how to do sexy yet. The blocking of scenes didn't help the situation, but I think that goes back to it being a TV movie. These things together make the scenes come off as awkward, not sexy. Lastly, the bad. There are three criticisms. They are depiction of the time period, dialogue and the ending.
I feel they shied away from depicting the time period a little bit. The original really reflected the time period down to the opening voice-over which explains how things would change in the coming months and how Baby would change over the three summer months. You can see the changes by depicting the time period. They missed the mark on that.
There was a lot of unnecessary dialogue.Some of the dialogue felt like they were trying to put 2017 sentiments into a 1963 context. It didn't work. (I'm a stickler for being true to the time period in which a film is set.) It was inauthentic. The original captured the time more authentically. True the remake's writers didn't have firsthand knowledge of this world and the period it is in, but they could do a little research.
There's a fine line between taking a position and preachiness. It straddled that line just a bit. Some of the dialogue was disorienting because it felt out of place. One thing they did that I hate when movies do is that they seemed to spell everything out for the audience. THE AUDIENCE IS NOT STUPID. You can imply things and we will get it. It also forces the audience to go where they want us to and see no other dimensions. The put dialogue where none is necessary. In the original she says not only do I choose Johnny, but I choose his world and the things that represents. The audience realizes that she is not comfortable in the world she was in, but that Johnny's world was a better fit for her and what she wanted out of life and to be in life. In the new one, she fits into the world she was born into. This is solidified when they show at the end that she is married with a kid. Basically, she went back to her world. For this character, it hit the wrong note. I enjoyed it overall. I give it a B- because of the hit-and-miss nature overall, but mostly for the flubbed ending . It did whet my appetite in a few ways: 1)to see the stage musical when it hits Broadway, 2) for a wide-release theatrical remake, 3) a wide-release movie musical and 4) to watch the original either in a theatrical rerelease or just on Blu-ray.