there was enough dancing and awkward teen romance to make up for that fact in Dirty Dancing II: Havana Nights. I went last week expecting the absolute worst after reading several bad reviews and hearing from my friends that it was only a pale imitation of the original. It was definitely an imitation, but considering that the whole point of the original was the soundtrack, the dancing, the chemistry between Jennifer Grey and Patrick Swayze, and the memorable script, I think this remake in a Cuban setting was pretty successful.
The two leads, Romola Garai and Diego Luna, were both fantastic. I had seen Romola Garai in I Capture the Castle and she was the best thing about the movie. She’s naturally likeable, beautiful, and also a little ungainly, which makes her fun to watch, especially when dancing/making out with Diego Luna (from Y Tu Mama Tambien), who looks tiny in comparison to her. The PG-13 rating prevented us from seeing his butt or private parts, which is a shame because they totally could have copied the sidelong getting-out-of-bed buttcheek shot from the first movie (that you and your giggling friends would rewind over and over again, or maybe that was just me…), which was also PG-13. They even showed half of Baby’s boob in
the first movie. I guess things have just become less risque lately in our Puritanical society.
One reviewer complained about the use of a modern soundtrack when the movie is set in the 50s, and I am astounded by that critique, considering that was one of the most important aspects of the first movie and was continued very successfully in the new one, with an awesome Cuban hiphop soundtrack. The reviewer claims that the Cuban music of the period was better, which is a valid opinion, but shows they know nothing about Dirty Dancing.
The weak point was definitely the script. There were no lines as good as “Nobody puts Baby in a corner,” “I carried a watermelon,” or “Just go put your pickle on everybody’s plate, college boy, and leave the hard stuff to me.” I can’t recall any good line from the movie at all, which is too bad, since half the fun of Dirty Dancing is reciting the entire script with a female friend as the movie plays.
I will still buy this DVD however, because it conjured in me the same feelings of frivolous optimism as the first one and I left the theater feeling in love with love. It really doesn’t take much to give a movie-going audience this gift, and the magic of Dirty Dancing is that it gives you only the elements essential to achieving that romantic euporia with little else to distract you. Don’t think too hard about it, just go see it and then kiss somebody.