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'Dirty Dancing' TV Remake Gets Pulled Apart By Critics (Though Abigail Breslin Has Won Praise)

Ouch.

26/05/2017 12:54 | Updated 26 May 2017

“Do you love me? Do you love me?”

Well it turns out that no, the critics do not love the new ‘Dirty Dancing’ remake at all.

The much-anticipated TV movie remake has now aired in the US, starring Abigail Breslin in the iconic role of Frances Houseman (who we all know as Baby), with other stars among the cast including Debra Messing, Nicole Scherzinger and ‘Modern Family’ star Sarah Hyland.

ABC
Abigail Breslin and Colt Prattes as Baby and Johnny

But while the original film, which tells the story of one young woman’s experience at the Kellerman’s resort, has gone on to become a cult classic, it seems the new adaptation has been far less well-received.

Here is just a selection of the reviews. They’re not all terrible, admittedly (Abigail Breslin is held up by most as a particular highlight), but they’re not exactly glowing:

“Whatever the original movie is, it’s not ‘Formal Dancing’ or ‘Time Period Appropriate Dancing’. The movie is sexy. ABC’s version is not. Even scenes that copy the movie without reservation, like Baby’s watermelon-carting arrival at the Kellerman’s after-hours staff shindig, have put any sultriness on ice… once I get past my praise for Breslin and Greenwood, I’m grasping at straws.

“I don’t think the [original] feature ‘Dirty Dancing’ is some cinematic masterpiece. Thirty years after its premiere, it’s a well-executed time capsule that was, itself, a well-executed time capsule. If your only reason to remake it is to further entomb it in nostalgia, without interpretation or imagination, it probably shouldn’t have been done at all.”

“Abigail Breslin is a sweet and likable Frances ‘Baby’ Houseman, but looks utterly lost during the dance routines – even when Baby’s supposed to have mastered the numbers for the big performance.

“Newcomer Colt Prattes, who plays bad boy dance instructor Johnny Castle, makes up for it by dancing circles around Breslin, but the two have no chemistry. Those longing glances at one another are more like quizzical blank stares, as if they’re waiting for inspiration from one another.

“Overall, the new version of ‘Dirty Dancing’ never finds its footing. Perhaps it would have been better to leave Baby back in that corner in 1987.”

“For a film that is refreshing in how little artifice it presents to the audience, the ‘Dirty Dancing’ remake is far too glossy. Where the original traded in discomfort, attraction, and heat, the remake is markedly safer and more sterile — like a frosty mirror held up to the original.

“It is hard to find an argument for watching this production over the original. And given how much trouble it was to produce this remake — a six-year process, all told — maybe it’s worth asking if every story needs to be rebooted, remade, or retold for the TV audience.”

“The original 1987 ‘Dirty Dancing’ is a movie that worked against all odds. Eighties sensibility (and hairstyles and theme song) shoehorned into a Sixties nostalgia piece, a miniscule budget, a cast of unknowns, and a troubled production – not to mention a heroine named … Baby.

“And yet it positively crackled, thanks to Eleanor Bergstein’s deeply personal script, crazy chemistry between leads Jennifer Grey and Patrick Swayze, and the ethereal gyrations of the late, great Swayze.

“So how do you re-create that magic? The short answer is: You don’t. The long, much more painful answer is: You wait 30 years, you throw together a three-hour-long remake, and you put it on ABC – and then after even a cursory check of Twitter, you realize that you should not have even attempted it. This is one Baby that should have stayed in the corner.

“Wayne Blair and Jessica Sharzer’s remake attempts to be all things to all people, and ends up being nothing to anybody.”

“Breslin and Prattes go through the motions together, but without generating any heat. It’s not just that Breslin and Prattes lack chemistry; they appear downright uncomfortable around each other. And they’re supposed to be playing two people who find a way to be together despite strict class conventions.

“Despite his obvious knack for dance, Prattes’ virtually nonexistent acting experience sinks any chance at a believable love story. But rather than admit defeat, Blair and Sharzer keep the spotlight on Prattes’ stilted acting via a ridiculous coda.

“Even after doing their best to turn one of the most romantic movies of the ’80s into a dull after-school special, it seems they hadn’t learned their lesson.”

“The first ‘Dirty Dancing’ quickly establishes that there are people with money, and people with soul, and generally the two don’t mix. That allows Kellerman’s dancers to stand out as beautiful, if economically challenged, swans among the stodgy clientele; Baby crosses over thanks to a little lake water and Johnny’s sexy, sexy arms, and we revel in her transformation.

“But in ABC’s ‘Dirty Dancing’, every single character glides about, capable of a fancy foxtrot or a perfect pirouette. So by the time Baby carries a watermelon (yep, that’s still in there) up to the staff hut, the dancers blowing off steam looks a lot like what’s going on in the main ballroom… albeit with a little more grinding.

“Add in the fact that the characters often break into song… and the whole endeavor feels like the Disney ride version of ‘Dirty Dancing’: cleaner, prettier and way frothier than the already frothy real thing.”

“’Dirty Dancing’ isn’t a timeless movie, which is precisely why it’s so great—and such a beloved classic 20 years later. Watching it is like boarding a time machine. The retro music, convoluted dialogue, the hair: It’s all so gloriously nostalgic

“That’s why ABC’s remake of ‘Dirty Dancing’ has been so polarising. People wondered how the network would pull off re-creating a movie that’s been beloved by generations. But the revival, surprisingly, pulls it off

“The creators didn’t try to update the story for a digital age; as a result, you get two hours of throwback TV akin to discovering a retro outfit in your mother’s closet. It’s gaudy and loud, sure, but it fits under the right circumstances.”

Watch the trailer for ABC’s ‘Dirty Dancing’ remake below:

Film Remakes We Love To Hate
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