Dirty Dancing: 2-Film Collection Blu-ray
Twenty-five years on and this deceptively simple girl-meets-boy story remains the quintessential coming-of-age picture for young ladies everywhere. Forget Pretty Woman and its syrupy hogwash of billionaire white knights; this is the daddy of romantic drama. Also, along with Ghost and The Bodyguard, it completes the holy trinity of films that simply appear by magic on a woman’s shelf the instant she turns 40. That it became the first film to sell one million copies on VHS tells you everything about its enduring appeal. This classic film about a young girl reaching womanhood over a rainy summer on a Catskill hotel resort remains that rarest of commodities, a film that is absolutely perfect in virtually every respect.
Jennifer Grey, whose career went sadly nowhere after this, plays the role of Frances Houseman – ‘Baby’ to her family – a delicate young thing idly dreaming of making the world a better place in the Peace Corps. Bored with the croquet and hoops on offer, she chances upon dance instructor Johnny Castle (an impossibly charismatic Patrick Swayze) whose partner, Penny, who has been knocked up by a womanizing waiter. With Penny unable to do an important upcoming show, Baby offers to take her place and despite the snobbish objections from her family and the “strictly no fraternizing” policy of the resort's owner, Baby and Johnny slowly fall in love to one of the greatest soundtracks in cinema history.
While it remains a fairytale on the screen in reality it was a much-troubled production, raining buckets one day and extras fainting from the sweltering heat the next. Swayze and Grey hadn't liked each other since Red Dawn and had a lot of problems working together. In fact, the now iconic scene where Swayze strokes his hand down her underarm seductively and she bursts into fits of giggles for the umpteenth time was not staged and that looked of annoyance on his face is 100% genuine.
Yet, the producers knew they were on to something despite all that because the two leads just have electrifying chemistry whenever they’re together. The whole casting was sublime; from veteran Broadway actor Jerry Orbach as the kind hearted but deeply conservative father, to Max Cantor as the sleazy waiter bedding his way through staff and guests alike, everyone was just right. Swayze has never been better as the downtrodden and put upon street urchin with the heart of gold. Jennifer Grey is every bit his equal as the idealistic girl who follows her heart through a summer that will change her life forever.
Dirty Dancing has many great qualities, but in essence retains a certain homely charm as a straightforward, universally appealing love story with a little bit of everything. A brilliant cast on the top of their game and some show stopping dance routines that will get even the most hardened heart all aflutter. In retrospect it has been called ‘Star Wars for girls’ in terms of its legacy and influence. I mean, what couple hasn't done their own rendition of “Oh Lover Boy” on the bedroom floor, even if they are too embarrassed to own up to it publicly?
The sequel, Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights, arriving a mere seventeen years after the fact, is also included here but should be regarded as it always has been – a shameless, misguided attempt to recapture the magic of the original. Set on the eve of Cuba’s revolution a young American girl (Romola Garai) and a struggling waiter (Diego Luna) prepare to compete in a prestigious national dance competition. The steps are perfectly serviceable, and, yes, Swayze has a small role, but the whole affair is little more than a vulgar, unnecessary afterthought.