Rumors about a possible Dirty Dancing remake have been swirling since 2011, but the project is finally seeing the light of day on ABC as a television movie that will premiere on Wednesday, May 24 at 8/7c. Today, the network released our first peek at the project: a movie poster that looks, well, pretty much exactly the same as the original.
The reboot of the iconic dance/romance movie has me filled with hope and dread, as do most remakes of timeless classics. Now that we have the poster in our hands, my emotions are more conflicted than ever before.
The poster stays very true to the movie: it depicts Baby Houseman and Johnny Castle in their classic dance pose: standing while spooning, with Houseman's arm reaching back behind Castle's neck and her lips reaching toward his. Their clothes are very similar, too: Castle in his hunky black t-shirt and Houseman in a white empire-waist dress. Even the movie's title font is the same.
The duo replacing the original couple of Jennifer Grey and Patrick Swayze, Scream Queens' Abigail Breslin and Rock of Ages' Colt Prattes, have also transformed their looks to match the appearance of the original cast. While Prattes has always seemed to have a Swayze air about him, Breslin is hard to recognize sporting Grey's short, curly brunette locks.
Generally, remakes make one of two mistakes: they stray too far from the original, killing everything that made the first film a success, or they stay too close to the original, offering the audience nothing new and begging viewers to find fault with the pale imitation. While the new Dirty Dancing poster makes me worry that the reboot might be flying too close to the sun, other details about the movie give me hope. For example, ABC has said that the movie will include songs from the original (how can you say no to "Time of My Life," "Hungry Eyes," and "She's Like the Wind"?) as well as added musical numbers, which we can assume involve more singing and dancing. Whether the three-hour movie can pull that off is yet to be seen, but it at least makes us think that it has a chance to be nostalgic and yet novel at the same time.
The other opportunity that remakes have is to revisit the themes of the original movie, framed in our new times. In this way, the Dirty Dancing reboot has two really great opportunities to bring the 30-year-old issues of the movie into the modern day. First and foremost, the main plot of the movie involves abortion law in the 1960s as well as how important it is for women to have access to safe and private family planning options. In today's climate, when abortions are legal and yet becoming so restricted that they are often logistically difficult for women (especially poor women and women in "red" states), the movie could offer important perspective to a younger generation.
At the same time, Baby Houseman and her family are Jewish, living in a time when the minority group was often discriminated against and stereotyped. Today, as we face a new wave of anti-Semitic sentiments, the remake has a chance to present a complex, relatable, and generally kickass Jewish heroine.
Whether ABC's Dirty Dancing remake hits a home run or just leaves us wishing we had rewatched the original, I know I will be on my couch, popcorn in hand, along with a whole bunch of other people. Which is why remakes keep getting made, for better or worse.
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