October 23 2008

Dirty Dancing Haunts My Nightmares

While I am known for being harsh in movie reviews, one movie I have heaped endless hate on over the years is Dirty Dancing.

Most bad movies are quickly forgotten.  You see them, you say, “Wow, what a trainwreck” and move along.  However, Dirty Dancing is one that has stuck in my mind for years because I can remember when it came out on video, and I couldn’t go to any female friend’s house without that movie being in their VCR on an endless loop.  Honestly, the movie is mostly forgettable except for what is possibly one of the most excruciating lines of dialog ever written… yeah, you know which one I mean…

Nobody puts Baby in the corner!


I hated this line from the moment I heard it (actually, I burst out laughing, much to the anger of the girl sitting on the couch with me at the time), and this was long before Conan O’Brien picked on it relentlessly on his talk show.  I truly consider it six of the most insipid words ever strung together in a sentence.  Perhaps it was Patrick Swayze’s delivery of the line, but I really think it is just a horribly written line.

I remember hearing a few years back about some sort of live stage version of this abomination on celluloid, but quickly pushed it out of my head.  Now comes word via Variety that the stage production may be making its way to Broadway in the near future.  “Dirty Dancing — The Classic Story Onstage” (‘classic’?  seriously?) may be taking up the theater with its tripe where Hairspray hasbeen playing for six years.  Nothing is firm yet, but that’s what has been reported.

This bring up a conversation I had with M (for newcomers, my best friend who shall only be known by an initial) not long ago about the “Disneyfication” of Broadway.  With things like “Little Mermaid” going on at the moment, and “Spider-Man” inching closer to being a reality, we wonder what has happened to classic storytelling on Broadway.  Where are the shows like “A Chorus Line”, “Evita”, “Damn Yankees” and so on?  Instead we get things like “Dirty Dancing” which, by the way, doesn’t even feature a singing cast, they just dance to the music from the movie.  Essentially it is the movie just done on a stage.


You know, here’s part of my problem with this whole “Oh it’s a classic!” and “It’s so romantic!” schtick with this property: Does no one realize that Johnny, the dance instructor, is significantly older than Baby?  Were there no statutory rape laws in 1963, the year the story takes place?  No no, everyone is just horrified that the hired help of the resort slept with a guest, not that she is an underage girl having sex with a man in his mid to late 20’s.  True, their ages are never stated, but it is fairly obvious.  I guess it’s okay though because it’s “romantic” and “sweet”.

Never mind the whole sub-plot about the female employee of the resort who has an illegal, back alley abortion and nearly bleeds to death.  Really, this movie was sweet and perfect for teen girls in 1987!

So come on folks, pack up your kids, specifically your young daughters, and take them to see the “sweet” and “romantic” story of illegal love between an adult male and a teenage girl on Broadway!

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