Sunday, February 12, 2017

The Time of Their Lives

Dirty Dancing
Director: Emile Ardolino
Cast: Patrick Swayze, Jennifer Grey, Jerry Orbach, Kelly Bishop, Jack Weston, Cynthia Rhodes
Released: August 21, 1987

Oscar nominations:

Best Original Song - Franke Previte, John DeNicola, and Donald Markowitz for "(I've Had) The Time Of My Life" (won)

As it is February, the month of Valentine's Day, I thought I would review movies revolving around romance and what better way to start out with one of the most romantic films of our times? (Okay, I may be exaggerating a little bit on that!)

I didn't know that Jennifer Grey's character, Baby (and we will get to that ridiculous name in a bit!), was only seventeen. I don't think they actually say what her age is in the movie, but everywhere I've read about this movie, it says she is seventeen and it is mentioned that she is planning on attending college to study economics and wants to join the Peace Corps, so it sounds like she is just barely out of high school. I guess I had just assumed she was in her early twenties, not jail bait. I also figured Jennifer Grey was in her early twenties when she filmed this, but she was 27....ten years older than her character! Considering I thought she was 22 or 23, I guess she pulled it off...barely though. Still don't see her as a teenager! Her real name is Frances Houseman, but she goes by "Baby" for God knows what reason. Who the hell calls a grown ass woman "Baby?" Okay, she's "seventeen", but still, I mean, seriously now! Yes, it did give us that iconic line, "Nobody puts Baby in a corner!" ....but it still sounded pretty stupid when her father or mother called her "Baby". (And way creepy when the father said it). We do get a funny line where someone tells her, "Go back to your playpen, Baby." Baby's dad is played by Jerry Orbach and her mom is played by Kelly Bishop. Imagine my shock and delight when I saw that a young Emily Gilmore was in this! Wait! Does this mean that Baby is Lorelai's older half-sister? I can see Lorelai having a field day making fun of "Baby's" nickname. Although, the time line wouldn't work because this movie is set in 1963, but I think they forgot to dress some of the extras in the last scene because there are some very '80s clothes and hair on some of them who are watching the final dance! Plus there's this other scene where Baby is wearing acid wash jeans where you forget this movie is suppose to be set in the early '60s!

Baby's family, along with her older sister, Lisa (what? she doesn't have a saccharine nickname like "Honey" or "Sweetie"?) are going to a resort in the Catskill Mountains called Kellerman's which is owned by a man named Max Kellerman (Jack Weston), who Mr. Houseman knows. It doesn't really remind me of a resort, but rather a camp for families. There are cabins guests stay in and activities that include dancing (duh!), arts and crafts, golf, and boating.  

Crazy for Swayze!
While at a dance lesson, Baby (I cannot get over how stupid her name is!) sees dance instructor Johnny Castle (Patrick Swayze) and his dance partner (dance partner only, mind you!), Penny (Cynthia Rhodes) putting everyone to shame as they dance the salsa...or the mamba...or the waltz. Hell, I don't know what they were doing! Baby can't keep her eyes off the older guy and meets him when she accidentally gets invited to a party that's for staff members only. Apparently there's 400 people who work at this resort because that's how many people are dancing inside the lodge. This is where everyone is bumping and grinding against each other. They could never dance like this in front of the guests! This is when Johnny and Baby are introduced to each other and Baby is introduced to "dirty dancing". (Do people really call it that? I just call it "bumping and grinding").

There's a lot of drama involving Penny who is pregnant and wants to get money to get an abortion. We're suppose to think it's Johnny's baby since they used to date, but it's a douche bag waiter named Robby who also has his eye on Lisa. Baby asks her dad for the money who just gives it to her because she tells him it's for someone who's in trouble. Which, yes, is true, but sheesh, I would want to know more specifics before I shelled over $250 to anyone. To be fair, he does ask what the money is for, but she tells him she can't tell him. He seems happy enough to give her the money when she assures him she's not the one in trouble and whatever the money is for is not illegal (:::coughWRONG!cough:::) Turns out that $250 was a horrible investment because this so-called "doctor" only had a dirty knife and a folding table and didn't even use ether on her. Good Lord! Understandably, Penny is in agony and Baby runs and gets her father, who is a doctor. When he asks who is responsible for Penny, Johnny tells him he is. Mr. Houseman tells his daughter he doesn't want her associating with Johnny anymore.

What he doesn't know is that Baby has been taking dancing lessons from Johnny. Johnny and Penny usually perform the Mambo at the Sheldrake Hotel, but since Penny will be out of commission due to her, ahem, "procedure", Baby fills in for her. There's a lot of dancing montages and while I don't remember the abortion subplot at all, I remember all the dance montages, like when they're dancing on the log over the water together. (No way I would do that...I don't want to slip and break my neck!) Even though there's plenty of songs from the '50s and '60s, two of the most iconic scenes feature songs from the '80s. Obviously the last dance scene (probably one of the most famous dances in cinematic history) has "(I've Had) the Time of My Life" which was written for the movie and "Hungry Eyes" by Eric Carmen which is played during the montage where Baby is learning the steps to their dance also came out in 1987. It too was written specifically for the movie. While I do love both song, neither of them sound '60s at all! They're both totally '80s. (Well, I think so!)

There's a move at the end of the dance where Baby is suppose to run and jump into Johnny's arms and he'll lift her up in the air. (You know the move!) She chickens out doing it when they perform at the hotel and they just change it into another move. Aside from a few missteps, she does pretty well for her first public performance. Since Baby and Johnny have been spending a lot of quality time together and especially since most of this quality time has been spent dancing and touching each other, they start to have romantic feelings for each other. This is when the movie starts to feel a tad creepy to me. We never find out Johnny's age, but I'm guessing he's suppose to be early twenties. Their age difference wouldn't really be that big of a deal if it weren't for the fact she was's just creepy! Patrick Swayze was seven years older than Jennifer Grey in real life, so that would have made him 34 when he filmed this. And she's on vacation and she sneaks out of the cabin she's sharing with her parents and sister to have sex with Johnny. Even her sister sneaks out of their cabin to have sex with Robby (who she finds is already doing it with a cougar who is staying at the resort). Am I the only one who finds this extremely disturbing?

Grandma Gilmore!
Baby has to admit she spent the night at Johnny's cabin when he's been accused of stealing. She says she know Johnny didn't do it because she was with him in his cabin all night. Turns out the thieves were this elderly couple. Johnny is fired anyway because of his relationship with an underage girl (well, they make it sound like he was fired because he had a relationship with a guest, but really, he did have a relationship with an underage girl!) Mr. Houseman is outraged by this, but once he learns that Johnny wasn't the one who got Penny pregnant and he has some pretty sweet dance moves, he seems to be okay with the two of them hooking up.  Johnny comes back so he can dance the final dance with Baby. Nobody put Baby in a corner, indeed. If you go on YouTube, you can find a TON of videos from weddings where the bride and groom dance to this song. Although this does come from Dirty Dancing, this dance is very appropriate to dance to in front of your grandparents.

Surprise! I have a bonus movie review!

Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights
Director: Guy Ferland
Cast: Diego Luna, Romola Garai, John Slattery, Sela Ward, Jonathan Jackson, Mika Boorem, Patrick Swayze
Released: February 27, 2004

I've seen this movie referred to as a sequel (WTF?) and a prequel, but it's neither. Even though it came out 17 years after the original, it takes place in 1958 so it comes before the original in the timeline. But it really has nothing to do with the original. It's not a remake or a reboot...I guess the best way to describe it would be a re-imagining. You will notice Patrick Swayze in the cast list. No, he does not play Johnny Castle because that would make no sense at all as Johnny would have been a teenager (probably?) in 1958 while Swayze was in his early 50s when he made this. Maybe he played Johnny Castle's father, Jonathan Castle? He is only credited as "Dance Class Instructor" so I guess you could use your own interoperation for who he really is.

Diego Luna? Si, por favor!
While I'm not the biggest fan of the original, I do understand why it's such an iconic movie. This movie is fine. It doesn't hold a candle to the original, but why would it even try? This was the movie that introduced me to Diego Luna, so therefore I love it. When I first watched this movie back when I rented it in 2004, I was like, "OMG, who is that boyishly cute, yet extremely gorgeous guy with the super swoon-worthy accent?" I rented a bunch of his movies and became a fangirl. He somehow manages to be both super cute and super hot at the same time. Usually guys are one or the other (or neither!), but rarely both. To be honest, I hadn't seen many of his movie since the early '10s, but I did see him in Rogue One, and yep, even twelve years after this movie, he's still hot. A few years after I saw this movie on DVD, I was talking with a co-worker of mine and this movie came up in a conversation and I told her how much I loved Diego Luna and she said she did too and saw the movie twice in the theaters and I was like, "Girl, I don't blame you!" Diego Luna can teach me Spanish or make me tacos or make out with me anytime.

Obviously, from the title, the movie takes place in Havana, Cuba. It is about a high school senior named Katey Miller (Romola Garia) who is moving to Havana with her parents (John Slattery and Sela Ward) and little sister, Susie (Mika Boorem). I'm not sure why they move there (with only a weeks' notice too, WTF?), but it is mentioned her dad works for Ford and was promoted. Can I just say thank God the female lead in this movie has a normal name and not a creepy nickname like "Baby"? They live in a swanky hotel where all the other rich white Americans live and Katey meets some of her peers. One of the snobby girls is played by January Jones and James, the son of Katey's dad's boss, is played by Jonathan Jackson, who you probably know best as Avery from Nashville. Katey really only cares about school and studying and reading books and doesn't really associate with her peers, but when James asks her out to a dance at the country club, she accepts so she will fit in and make new friends. Because of the time period this takes pace in, the Cuban Revolution is going on with Castro and Batista and yada, yada, yada.

During this time she also meets Diego's character, Javier Saurez who works at the hotel. They have a brief run-in there but when she sees him dancing to a Cuban band in the Town Square, she likes what she sees. (I mean, can you blame her??) She had missed the bus, so he offers to walk her back to the hotel so she doesn't get lost.

After Katey is insulted at the Country Club dance by January Jones by insinuating she's too goody-goody to come to someone's house to drink, she tells them that she and James are going to a Cuban club, La Rosa Negra because Javier told her about it. Both boys are jealous of the other because they are trying to vie for the attention of Katey, but let's be honest, it's really not a fair fight! James is cute enough you can see why Katey would accept an invitation to a dance with him. Although a bit smug, he seemed to be okay until he puts the moves on her in his parked car after he sees her dancing with the Cuban hottie even after she told James no. So you have a semi-cute smug guy who assaults his date against the super cute/super hot Cuban guy with the adorable accent (and let's not forget those sweet dance moves!) and he's super sweet because he offers to walk her home. I told you it was no contest!

Javier ends up getting fired from his job because Susie and one her friends saw him with Katey and they snitched. It was a big no-no for the staff to be conversing with the guests. Katey feels awful because she knows Javier needs the money to help out his family. She sees a poster promoting a Latin dance competition which will give the winners five grand. She figures with her knowledge of ballroom dancing (both her parents were professional ballroom dancers in their prime) and Javier's street dancing, they can marry the two ideas and come up with a winning dance. Javier is reluctant at first about the idea, but finally agrees. As I mentioned earlier, Patrick Swayze played the dance class instructor and helps Katey fine-tune some of her dance moves and gives her advice.

There's a lot of dance montages and Shakira's "Hips Don't Lie" is played during it (although it's not Shakira singing...not sure who it is). Although the song works for the movie with its lyrics and Latin flair, I am still scratching my head on why a current pop song is playing during a movie set in 1958, but if you remember, the original had songs from its current day playing during a movie set in 1963. But who cares because it's a catchy song and you get to see a lot of cute dance moves in the montage!

Katey's mom, who thinks James is cute and wants things to work out between her daughter and the boss's son has no idea that Katey is spending time with a local boy as Katey is telling her she's spending the time with James. Her parents would have a heart attack if they knew she was spending her time with a poor Cuban boy and not a rich white American one! Hey! This movie is more like Titanic than the original Dirty Dancing if you think about it. I didn't find the relationship between Katey and Javier to be creepy like the one between Baby and Johnny because they were closer in age (as well as the actors) and she wasn't sneaking out to have sex with him ala Baby. Katey makes James cover for her by threatening to tell her parents of the assault if he doesn't.

The dance contest is at a swanky ballroom on Christmas and three couples will be chosen to compete in the finals set for New Year's Eve. But, surprise! Mr. Miller has a surprise for the whole family and is taking them, along with James and his parents, to watch the Latin dance contest. Katey (wearing a black coat over her slinky dress) manages to get away by telling the others she has to use the restroom. There's a funny scene where she's been gone for a few minutes and her mother asks, "Where's Katey?" and Susie (who knows about her sister's participation in the dance contest), replies, "Just wait."  Katey's parents are NOT amused at all and they are just watching her dance with stone cold faces. This is the big dance sequence of the movie and it's pretty impressive what they do. Diego Luna is adorably cute and super hot in this scene; how does he do that?? Oh, yeah, that blonde girl he's dancing with does a good job too, but who is looking at her, haha. No surprise, they are one of the three couples that will be competing in the finals. However, Katey may not get to attend that dance because, boy, are her parents PISSED! (Oh, who are we kidding? Of course she's not going to miss the final dance). Even though her parents don't approve of her relationship with Javier (even though he was totally adorable and gave her mom a flower - c'mon, Sela Ward, you weren't charmed by that?), they do want her to compete in the finals because they know how much she loves dancing. They are the last couple to dance, but they don't get to finish because Javier's brother, who is a revolutionist, has disguised himself as a waiter and opened fire in the crowded ballroom. Everyone manages to get out okay and Javier stops his brother from doing anything (more) stupid. Our favorite couple doesn't win which I thought was a little unfair since their dance was interrupted!

Katey and her family have to leave Cuba in a few days and she wants Javier to join them (like he's her new puppy she found or something!), but he tells her he has to stay in Cuba because that's where his family is and he needs to stay in his home country. Katey's mother comforts her when she gets home and yes, I would be crying too if I had to say goodbye to someone that hot (and cute!) But it's okay because she gets to have one last dance and one last make out session with him, at least.

Okay, yes, I only like this movie for purely shallow reasons! So sue me! 

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