30 years and still dancing. Never put this one in the corner.
Lionsgate released a Dirty Dancing 2-Film collection five years ago in celebration of 25 years of Dirty Dancing and for the most part it was a good collection, though certainly could have been better. The inclusion of the sequel (or follow-up, or whatever the heck it was) certainly didn’t make the purchase easy. It was kind of like having a great dinner with friends, but you are sadly forced to invite that one guy no one liked merely because he dated one of your friends. If you think I’m being cruel to the imaginary guy, then just add to it that he tells terrible jokes, eats everything and hits on your other friends. Better? Anyway, Havana Nights was a free movie that you could ignore, but its mere presence was a reminder of mistakes that were made.
Moving on, Dirty Dancing’s latest release is in celebration of 30 years and, much like the last release on Blu-ray, is a solid homage to a fantastic film. You get an Oscar winning film with the original Dirty Dancing, which features Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey in their hay-day. It’s a simple movie based in 1963, that spins a narrative intertwining a clear divide of classes and how dancing brings them both together. It’s a Romeo & Juliet-esque story structure, but it ends much better and with less bad decisions. Despite the hokey dialogue (yes, even in the 60s they didn’t talk this way), the film’s real catch is the dancing sequences, which are visually spectacular and methodically choreographed and filmed. Swayze knew how to move and groove, and Jennifer Grey wasn’t half bad (though Dancing with the Stars judges will tell you she’s damn good).
What I particularly like about this film, and don’t tell me wife, is how well edited it was, especially in the music and dancing sequences. Editor Peter Frank made the movie flow well and it felt balanced between plot points and acts. Nothing felt like it was dragging in the final cut of the film and it’s tough to pull that off with a movie like this, as you have to keep up with the dancing sequences, while balancing them out with the story sequences and working with footage you got from the production team. In addition to high-fiving Frank’s editing prowess, director Emile Ardolino should be given a fist bump for directing efforts and getting what he needed from Swayze and crew. Of course, after seeing Sister Act, I’m pretty sure that music and filmmaking were Ardolino’s forte in life. I’m sure he would still be very proud of this movie, if he could see it today (God rest that man’s soul — he’s probably enjoying music wherever he is).
On the Blu-ray side of things, the 30th anniversary edition did pretty well. I’m not sure if the studio went back and cleaned up the film again, but for some strange reason it looks a lot better this time around than it did last time. The colors are brighter, there is far less graininess in the daytime shots and the color banding that was finding its way into the darker nighttime shots seemed to be not present this time around. Overall, this is a darn fine Blu-ray transfer.
In terms of special features, here’s what you’re looking at:
– ALL-NEW: “Patrick Swayze Uncut” Interview
– ALL-NEW: “Patrick Swayze: In His Own Words” Interview
– ALL-NEW: “Happy 30th Birthday, Dirty Dancing” Featurette
– ALL NEW: “Eleanor Bergstein: Thoughts On A Lifetime of Dirty Dancing” Interview
– Commentary with Writer / co-producer Eleanor Bergstein
– Commentary with Kenny Ortega, Miranda Garrison, Jeff Jur, Hilary Rosenfeld and David Chapman
– “Dirty Dancing: The Phenomenon” Featurette
– “Dancing to the Music” Featurette
– “The Rhythm of the Dancing” Featurette
– Original Screen Tests
– Music Videos
– Cast Interviews with Jennifer Grey, Eleanor Bergstein, Miranda Garrison and Kenny Ortega
– Deleted, Alternate and Extended Scenes
The additional features do make the purchase worthwhile, especially if you didn’t buy the previous one a few years back. The entire package of features is a good amount of nostalgia. Helluva film with great features. What more could you want? Lionsgate’s Limited Collector’s Edition version of this release is nice, as it does separate itself from the previous release with extra goodies, but this version is still solid.