Thoughts on the Dirty Dancing Remake

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Thoughts on the Dirty Dancing Remake

By guest writer Emily A. Filmore.

My 11-year-old daughter, Sage, and I watched the 2017 ABC remake of Dirty Dancing. While I think it is a good attempt to revive an old classic, I spent the entire three hours mourning the incomparable Patrick Swayze and comparing the whole casts’ dance skills, the cinematography, and yes, the storyline to my beloved original; she thinks it was a fun, cute movie, and really enjoyed the singing. I was exactly Sage’s age when the original came out, so this was great timing; it was one of the first adult movies I ever watched…and in 1987 me getting to see two people kiss on the lips was quite a racy event! Today, Sage has seen much more than this on network television, so nothing about the movie shocked her.

The next day we rented the original to indoctrinate her, I mean show her what the fuss was all about, on the real Cult Classic. She found the 1987 version to be slightly cheesy, lacking the casts’ singing, and she missed portions of the story they had added to the new version; but she thought the dancing was better in the original.

My re-viewing of the old version reinforced my assessment: I still love the old one best, and think the new one is an okay attempt, with decent, well-intentioned actors who will never fill the shoes of Jennifer Grey, Patrick Swayze, and Jerry Orbach.

This got me thinking about the phenomenon of reading a book before seeing a movie, and vice versa. I wonder if she likes the new version because it is what she was exposed to first. Or if it is a generational gap, because the new version was adapted for her generation, faster paced, filled with singing, more colorful, socially conscious.

She says she likes that the new version had more in-depth storylines, allowing you to get to know Baby’s family better. She likes the character Baby better in the new one because it explores sexism through her eyes, and Baby’s sister Lisa tore down walls of racism through her clandestine friendship/relationship with Marco. Looking back, I like this too. I have found in exposing her to the classics of my childhood I cringe at the open sexism and racism of the times, and find myself pausing movies quite often to explain away a phrase or action. She noticed that the acting was delivered more cleanly in the old version, but noticed the quality of the film was greatly improved from 1987 to 2017.

We will never know what made her like the newer version better, primacy-recency or generational gap, since we can’t have her watch these specific movies over in a different sequence. However, when we watched the Star Wars Movies we showed them to her in “Ernst Rister Order” (IV, V, I, II, III, VI, VII) and she fell in love, spawning a life that includes nine Star Wars T-shirts, a family Halloween of Star Wars Costumes, and many Star Wars toys! But I digress, that is a topic for another post.

When Emily A. Filmore isn’t geeking out over pop-culture, superheroes, and cult-classics, she writes about peace, love, health, relationships, parenting, spirituality, and politics. You can find her at emilyfilmore.com and withmychildseries.com