As a woman of a certain age, news of the “Dirty Dancing” remake should upset me. After all, I was a teenager in 1987, the summer the movie danced to the top of the box office. My generation of chicks turned the low-budget movie into a sleeper hit and Patrick Swayze into a sex symbol.
I was not one of those chicks. I did not rush to the town’s only first-run, two-screen theatre to watch the movie. When a classmate bragged a few weeks after “Dirty Dancing’s” release that she had seen it more than 20 times, I thought she was either lying or really bad at math.
When I finally saw the movie, I didn’t understand why anyone would watch it more than once and I certainly couldn’t understand why all the girls had breathlessly moaned about that Johnny Castle guy.
The movie was not without charms, though, including the line, “Nobody puts Baby in a corner.”
I also love the song, “(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life.” I frequently fill my office with ’80s music and, one day, I’ll finally sweep the piles of work to the floor, jump on my desk and have the time of my life…until I break something.
Otherwise, I’ve never understood the fuss. This isn’t revisionist history or a case of looking back on another era and wondering, “What were they thinking?” I lived through “Dirty Dancing” and wondered the entire time, “What are they thinking?”
The movie had music and dancing, and teenage girls love music and dancing, but to understand my generation’s love of the movie, you must understand their love for Swayze.
That’s something I’ve never been able to do.
Patrick Swayze was, at best, my third favorite of the three Curtis brothers from “The Outsiders,” and he was the guy making all the girls swoon? Granted, the dude could dance and Johnny defended the knocked-up girl, but Swayze?
I guess they couldn’t resist the forbidden romance between good girl, Baby, and the older guy, Johnny, who’s a little rough around the edges. Me, I found Baby irritating and thought Johnny and the knocked-up girl should cut a rug out of the Catskills and leave Baby crying in a corner.
If I hoped I would leave the movie behind in high school, I learned differently in college where I endured showings of it and listened to friends gush about their love for Johnny. In real life, I’ve encountered adult women who return to work on Monday kicking up their heels because they watched a “Dirty Dancing” marathon that weekend and men who say, “My wife watched that, too.”
Yeah, I know, it’s just me. I’ve never been a romantic and I boogie to a beat only I can hear.
Still, it would be nice for one person to agree that the lyrics to “She’s Like the Wind” make no sense. “She’s like the wind through my tree…” What the heck?
And I have to be honest, it’s not like I don’t use the “Dirty Dancing” franchise to my own benefit. The town upgraded from a two-screen theatre to a 10-screen “cinema” more than a decade ago, but pickings are sometimes still slim especially when you’re looking for a new release to review. That’s what I was doing back in 2004, the weekend everybody flocked to the theatre to watch “The Passion of the Christ.” I knew if I reviewed that movie as anything but the “greatest most inspiring cinematic masterpiece ever committed to celluloid,” I might not be able to go back to work.
I found an alternative title. As I entered the building, I saw a woman from work, a minister’s wife who once asked if I was Goth.
“What are you watching today?” I asked.
Smiling serenely, she answered, “‘The Passion.’ And you?”
“Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights.”