Kenny Ortega announced that he has signed on to do a remake of Dirty Dancing. Because Dirty Dancing needed to be remade? Couldn’t he have taken a page from his own book — dropping out of the Footloose remake — and walked away? Or did he realize that, like Footloose, it was going to happen whether he was involved or not so he might as well cash in on the nostalgia?
I have to admit that I wasn’t as much of a Footloose fan, so when I heard about that remake, I thought it was stupid but not a travesty. Dirty Dancing still makes me feel like I’m 15 years old, especially in the moment where Baby sees Johnny Castle in the dining room for the first time.
“You just put your pickle on everybody’s plate, college boy, and leave the hard stuff to me.”
Yes, not the most romantic of lines, but it still makes me weak in the knees to watch Baby’s reaction to this dashing, cocky older man. Not to mention that the words “I carried a watermelon” coming out of anyone else’s mouth is sacrilegious. (Well, except for mine. Because I say it a lot, as I’m often in situations where I make ridiculous choices. I once congratulated a cute boy on his birthday — which turned into “Uh, I mean. Your mother. Congratulations to her for… having you.” I carried a watermelon, indeed.)
And don’t get me started on how anyone could properly recast Baby’s parents and reach the brilliance of Jerry Orbach as Baby’s father and Emily Gilmore — Kelly Bishop — as her mother.
It’s not like any additions to the Dirty Dancing franchise have gone well, aside from the concert tour they did back in 1987. Okay, yes the stage version has done rather well outside of the U.S. but it has yet to lock down a Broadway premiere. The 1988 TV-spinoff starring a pre-The Office Melora Hardin was canceled after a few episodes.
Plus! Have you forgotten Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights — where the reign of Cuba’s Batista is akin to the fall of the Catskill resort world? We haven’t.
Shana: The audience, in a single moment, went from scattered and excited applause to outright revolt.
Amy: It’s nice to have nuances, but each second he was on, the audience was trying to anticipate the DD reference.
Shana: He went on and on and I honestly have almost no idea what he said, because I was laughing so hard that I was literally crying, and clutching you, and trying to make sure I didn’t choke from being unable to do those things and breathe at the same time. I haven’t laughed that hard since Pirates of the Caribbean.
Amy: It wasn’t just you! The place went up in hysterics. It truly was the turning of the tide – because no one would be patient with a bad line or over/underemoting after that.
Shana: I wonder, do you think they got through the test audiences without people being in hysterics?
Amy: I have no idea – I wondered how the premiere went. How could people not laugh at the premiere?
Shana: From then on out, yes, the audience was brutal… whereas before people were giving Romola and her limited acting abilities a chance, after that all she had to do was show up on screen and people started to titter. And I just, it was so embarrassing. Does Patrick Swayze just not realize how bad he looks? How preposterous the whole idea was?
Amy: I’m willing to bet he’s laughing all the way to the bank.
Shana: Well, I almost hope so. Public humiliation should totally come with compensation in the high six figures.
So, if this remake doesn’t fall apart — will the theatre again be filled with fans with similar reactions? A few early missteps and I don’t think that it will take that long for the breakdown to begin. Unless I lose a bet, or someone gets me really drunk and promises me a pony, I don’t think I’ll be in attendance. I have better things to do — Baby and I, we have a corner to get ourselves out of instead.