Well, my fears were not unfounded. The ABC Dirty Dancing did remove all traces of Jewishness (I think the most explicit reference was Baby mentioning dance classes at the JCC). But it also removed most traces of anything remotely likable, so I can’t even be mad at that.
Look, I’m supposed to come out here and do a brutal takedown of the movie, but frankly, I’m too emotionally exhausted. There are plenty of other writers out there doing just that. Sure, I have the Jewish angle, but there’s not much to say. It’s a gentile Dirty Dancing.
I had to shut down the part of my brain that feels empathy in order to avoid second-hand embarrassment of watching professional actors in this thing. I’m currently listening to the original movie soundtrack to cleanse myself.
Alright, if you must know what I’ve been through:
I had to watch a “musical reimagining” of a movie that already has music, so that practically speaking it just meant that the actors sing the iconic songs as they’re dancing to them or whatever even though the conceit is halfhearted and therefore comes off as weird.
I had to watch an actor (poor, poor Colt Prattes) dance technically well in Patrick Swayze’s shoes but with zero charisma and a punchable face.
I had to watch Abigail Breslin star as Baby. Remember, her Oscar-nominated role was for an adorable little girl who can’t dance. Extras applaud her performance, and the camera angles tries to hide her body, but it is so obvious she can’t dance that I literally do not understand why she was cast (she has no chemistry with Prattes either).
I had to sit through a ham-fisted feminist narrative that was inconsistent and vague— This Baby is smart. She reads books. Books like The Feminine Mystique and The Bell Jar, both of which came out the year the movie takes place (good timing, Baby).
I had to watch a subplot in which Baby’s parents consider getting a divorce, but then they have sex, so it’s OK. Hey, remember that weird semi-feminist vibe? Katey Sagal (looking great, by the way,) plays a divorced woman who talks about how free she is now that she’s left her cheating husband, but really she’s lonely and jealous and shrill. So it’s a good thing Baby’s parents bone and save their marriage!
I had to remember how much I miss Jerry Orbach.
Remember on Will & Grace, the running joke that Grace can’t sing? Let’s give Debra Messing a solo number, a cover of “They Can’t Take That Away From Me.” She makes it through in one piece, but what have we gained, really? Nothing. No one has gained anything from anything about this movie except a line on their IMDB page and I sincerely hope a good paycheck.
Speaking of paychecks, I had to watch Billy Dee Williams show up for about three scenes because a gig is a gig.
I had to watch the character of Neil Kellerman (the grandson of the resort’s owner) elevated into an interesting, dorky Jewish male feminist, only to have him completely disregarded, presumably because he’s dorky and Jewish-looking.
I had to watch Nicole Scherzinger in a movie that didn’t deserve her, even though she was playing a character half her age. Hey Nicole, stop trying so hard. You’re making Prattes look even worse by comparison.
I had to watch Sarah Hyland, who people forget was a Broadway performer prior to Modern Family, also do better than most of the people around her. The movie teases a romance between her and a black resort employee that doesn’t go anywhere except a cute duet at the talent show. I decided then that I would rather watch a movie about the two of them as woke folk singers in New York City in the 1960s then the movie I was watching. But it was too late.
I had to watch bad CGI. In a Dirty Dancing remake. And for what? For making it look like characters were outside of a Broadway theater with a marquis for a fake show (well, OK, there is a Dirty Dancing stage musical, but I don’t think this film was being that clever).
I had to watch a framing device (spoilers, not that you should care) in which we learn that Baby grows up, gets married to some guy who isn’t Johnny and has a baby in her twenties, and writes a book about something (who cares what). Does this tie into the feminist message of the show, or contradict it? Who even cares!
— (@lWasFeeIingEpic) May 25, 2017
I’m going to go listen to the original soundtrack some more.
Image via Twitter.