Dirty Dancing 2-Film Collection Review

Dirty Dancing stands as one of the most iconic coming of age films of the 80s, courting generation after generation of new girls tantalized by the “forbidden love” and sexuality inherent in the story of a girl on the verge of becoming a woman finally breaking out her prim and proper shell in the arms of a muscular, charismatic dancer. No matter how silly it is, the abundant romance between Jennifer Grey and Patrick Swayze seems to drown out all of the silliness that would otherwise turn off audiences. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for its 17-year-after sequel Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights, a comparatively clumsy tale, of an American girl in Cuban and the local boy who inspires her, that doesn’t manage any of the “forbidden” love of the original and only succeeds in poor dialogue and forced romantic tension just because “he’s not like us”.

Measured against its sequel, Dirty Dancing seems like a master stroke of socioeconomic clashing as Frances ‘Baby’ Houseman (Grey) discovers that the only decent people at the Kellerman Catskills resort are the lively entertainment staff, led by dance instructor Johnny Castle (Swayze). Baby finds herself taken with Johnny, and through a series of acts designed to prove she’s not the typical sheltered, self-centered rich girl, she wins his love both on and off of the dance floor, often at the expense of her father’s (Jerry Orbach) respect. Unless you let yourself be blinded to the film’s shortcomings because you just want to bathe in its romance, it’s almost impossible not to notice how all the rich boys waiting tables are conniving creeps, how the parents are comically inept at noticing said truth about all those boys, and how the entire film’s story hinges on a guy trying to carry one too many watermelons up a flight of stairs. Without that last ridiculous circumstance who’s to say there’d have been a story at all?

While the latter half of Lionsgate’s Dirty Dancing 2-Film Collection doesn’t amount to anything, it at least has the good sense to shave 30-minutes off its runtime. Outside of that, there are countless reasons to condemn its clumsy story. Between finding any possible reason to shoehorn in a role for Patrick Swayze and the film’s total lack of tension despite its early insistence that the stakes of their love are high (only to ditch that halfway through), Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights is really just a sizzle reel of dance practices set to Latin beats a slowed down instrumental version of “I’ve Had the Time of My Life”. It’s as if the studio realized how bad of a film they’d made and so instead of just letting it stand on its own modicum of merit, they pasted in as many references to the original as possible so the fans could at least spend the entire time looking for nods to the 1987 feature. It doesn’t help matters that stars Romola Garai and Diego Luna have no on-screen chemistry, making us wish that Sela Ward, John Slattery, or January Jones would come back into the story.

Blu-ray Bonus Features

On the Dirty Dancing Blu-ray you have the same extras that Lionsgate previously included on the Dirty Dancing: Limited Keepsake Edition Blu-ray: Commentaries with Writer/Co-Producer Eleanor Bergstein or Kenny Ortega, Miranda Garrison, Jeff Jur, Hilary Rosenfeld and David Chapman; Kellerman’s: "Reliving the Locations of the Film"; "Dirty Dancing: The Phenomenon"; "Dancing to the Music"; "The Rhythm of the Dancing"; a photo gallery; tributes to Patrick Swayze, Emile Ardolino, and Jerry Orbach; a fan reel; a theatrical trailer in HD; the Eleanor Bergstein script; a vintage featurette; "Trivia Track"; "Dirty Dancing Live in Concert"; "Dirty Dancing with Patrick Swayze"; outtakes; the “Hungry Eyes”, “She’s Like The Wind”, and “(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life” music videos; multi-angle dance sequences; cast interviews with Jennifer Grey, Eleanor Bergstein, Miranda Garrison, and Kenny Ortega; original screen tests; deleted, alternate and extended scenes

The Blu-ray for Havana Nights has far fewer extras and none are particularly interesting. Considering the dancing in the sequel isn’t particularly well filmed, it’s hard to care about the choreographer’s commentary or the featurettes devoted to the development of a specific piece and multi-angle approaches to the same number. The deleted scenes and the production featurette also fail to entertain.

"Dirty Dancing 2-Film Collection" is on sale May 8, 2012 and is rated PG13. Romance. Directed by Emile Ardolino, Guy Ferland. Written by Eleanor Bergstein, Kate Gunzinger, Peter Sagal, . Starring Diego Luna, Jennifer Grey, Jerry Orbach, John Slattery, Patrick Swayze, Romola Garai, Sela Ward.

Lex Walker • Editor

He's a TV junkie with a penchant for watching the same movie six times in one sitting. If you really want to understand him you need to have grown up on Sgt. Bilko, Alien, Jurassic Park and Five Easy Pieces playing in an infinite loop. Recommend something to him - he'll watch it.


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