TROUBLE CITY

DVD REVIEW: DIRTY DANCING - 20TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION

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STUDIO: Lions Gate
MSRP: $19.98
RATED: PG-13
RUNNING TIME: 105 minutes
SPECIAL FEATURES:
• Commentary with writer / co-producer Eleanor Bergman
• Trivia Track
• Dirty Dancing with Patrick Swayze
• Tribute to Jerry Orbach
• Deleted scenes
• Alternate scenes
• Extended scenes
• Outtakes
• Original screen tests
• Multi-angle dance sequences
• Classic story on stage
• Photo Gallery
• Jennifer grey interview
• Eleanor Bergman interview
• Kenny Ortega interview
• Emile Ardolino tribute
• “Hungry Eyes” music video
• “She’s Like the Wind” music video
• “(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life” music video

The Pitch

Way, way too much info about a film you probably hate.

The Humans

Patrick Swayze, Jennifer Grey, Jerry Orbach, Cynthia Rhodes.


"Uh, we were just wondering if anyone out there has seen our careers..."

The Nutshell

Frances “Baby” Houseman, a spoiled little daddy’s girl is stuck vacationing with her parents at a posh summer camp in the Catskills in 1963. Initially thinking that the summer going to be a torturous snooze, Baby is surprised when she discovers Johnny Castle, the lead camp dance instructor and instantly falls for him. Johnny is a greaser and free spirit and moonlights dancing at a club with his partner. They also spend their nights with their working class colleagues partaking of much more risqué dance and music than is allowed at the camp. Baby finds herself drawn not only to Johnny, but his music and dance and the potential to escape all of the restrictions her parents have placed on her and that she’s placed on herself (god I’ve just grown tits from writing that single paragraph).


"...and they offered to give me backend on this movie instead and I was like, 'what are you fuckin' kidding me?!' I said I want my full scale pay and I want it now."
"Those morons..."

The Lowdown

Okay, we all know that this film vies with either Pretty Woman, Ghost, Steel Magnolias or Beaches for king of the all-time chick flicks. It was a cultural phenomenon when this low budget and little-heralded film burst on the scene and made a mint at the box office, even before ticket prices made it so you had to pawn something in order to see a movie. Not only did it essentially launch the career of ex-Russkie fighter Patrick Swayze, but also showed us that Ferris Bueller’s sister was hotter than we thought, despite a nose that could shade most of sub-Saharan Africa. It spawned three hit songs, including one that was sung by said Soviet battler and another that won the Oscar. Chances are, if you were horny in 1987 and had a lively prospect with ovaries, this film helped you close the deal. So now it’s 20 years later and Dirty Dancing’s back with this anniversary edition DVD.


"Okay Patrick, scene's over. You can let go now. Patrick? Patrick!"

Since it’s highly doubtful that many of you have managed to not see this film at some point within the last two decades – especially if you’ve spent time with a chick you had carnal interest in. I consider Saturday Night Fever to be the modern harbinger of several types of movies, including the young person struggling toward a dream, which include Flashdance, 8 Mile, Save the Last Dance, Center Stage, Coyote Ugly, and a gazillion other films of that ilk; and also just good ole fashion dance movies. Dirty Dancing wasn’t simply the latest in that long line; it stood out like no other film mentioned in terms of establishing an ironclad cult following that didn’t involve fake Vulcan ears or fat teens battling with lit up glow rods, or the word “boomstick”. Dirty Dancing is an honest to god fangirl flick. And it can be as scary as any Trekkie with a homemade bat’leth.

So with all that being said, can the film possibly be watchable, even 20 years later? Well, I’m about to say something that you may think is going to take what meager street cred I’ve got and pour estrogen all over it, but I’ve never minded Dirty Dancing. I’ve never gone out of my way to watch it (until now), but I’ve never minded it. In terms of quality chick flicks (oxymoron I know), I rate it quite a bit below Pretty Woman and Ghost but still far above the dreck of Beaches and Steel Magnolias. Thus, allow me to give you five quick reasons why Dirty Dancing doesn’t suck...at least not entirely:


"...yeah Jennifer, I think you should definitely rhinoplasty that thing. It'll do wonders for your career."

1. It gave us the Swayze. Despite his dearth of watchable films in the last decade plus, there was a time when Swayze got gimself on somewhat of a roll with Ghost, and the endlessly fun Road House and Point Break.. Of course before then there was The Outsiders, Red Dawn, and TV’s North and South (which I liked quite a bit at the time). But this was the film that made him a household name. Yes friends, was a time, however brief, that the Swayze ruled all.

2. Jennifer Grey was never hotter. Can’t say much more than that because I haven’t seen her in anything other than this and Bueller...and apparently neither has anyone else.

3. Umm...did I mention Swayze?

4. Okay, so maybe I couldn’t quite reach five. I said I didn’t mind the film, I never said I shot my load over it...


"Jesus, look at the size!"
"My breasts?"
"Uh...sure..."

Regardless, what you can at least partially admire about the film is that it didn’t have many pretensions when it was made. You look at any teen coming-of-age movie these days and they’re all such derivative angst-ridden, flashy, hip hop cookie cutter twaddle that could be recast totally and not miss a beat. Dirty Dancing did at least have an earnestness to it. It just tried to tell a story (in a period piece no less, which you hardly ever see anymore), and although it ended up baselining estrogen directly into your bloodstream, there was a sincerity and purity of motive to it. The film barely got made to begin with, so there wasn’t a big machine behind it to subvert worldwide maleness...that was just happenstance.

My words may have fallen on deaf ears...er eyes...er blind eyes...but uh how are your reading...nevermind. Nevertheless, there are definitely worse girl-friendly movies out there than Dirty Dancing...the collected works of Kate Hudson for example. Even if you don’t like the movie, you can still respect that it came out of nowhere to garner a following like few before or since and started a career or two...okay a career. Doubtless I could change your mind one way or the other because you would’ve formed your own opinion long ago. But I personally never minded it...as long as it wasn’t crammed down my throat by a XX-chromosomed DD fundamentalist. I know, sometimes I even surprise myself.


The funny thing is that that's Swayze on the left.

The Package

The package is kind of the whole point of this double triple dip as this two-disc set is loaded with goodies...if you want to call them that. First off, there’s a commentary with writer / co-producer Eleanor Bergman that I didn’t bother with because I wasn’t quite that interested in the inner workings and intimate details of this film and I wagered you weren’t either. There’s also a trivia track, which gives you little factoids as the film plays. The interview feature, “Dirty Dancing with Patrick Swayze” is 12 minutes of his take on the whole phenomenon and how it affected his life and career. “Tribute to Jerry Orbach” is a six-minute retrospective on ole Lennie Briscoe given by his co-star Kelly Bishop. There’s around 12 minutes of deleted scenes, two and a half minutes of alternate scenes, and around nine minutes of extended scenes. Then you have a gag reel that’s barely worth the effort to watch in that the click of the button it takes to get you there last longer than the outtakes do.


"Okay ladies, this is good...uh let's try this move over on the bed..."

There’s roughly six minutes of screen test footage of a super-mulleted Swayze and Grey. There’s two multi-angle dance sequences of the climactic dancing and lift sequences to make you feel good about yourself from four different perspectives. “Classic Story On Stage” is a five-minute promo about the new stage version of the movie. The Anime version should be out sometime next year or so.... The Photo Gallery is set to music and runs about four minutes. There are interviews with Jennifer Grey, Eleanor Bergman and choreographer Kenny Ortega that eat up 45 minutes of your life, and the tribute to late director Emile Ardolino chews another 13 minutes or so. And finally, just when you think you can’t get enough, there are the three music videos for the movies hit songs “Hungry Eyes”, “She’s Like the Wind” and “(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life”. I figure that should be enough to hold you over until the 25th Anniversary Edition comes down the pike.


"Hey Jen, you up for a sequel or what?"
"Nah, I got Bloodhounds of Broadway and Wind coming up..."

10 out of 10 if you lactate
7.0 out of 10 otherwise