I was critically warned not to watch ABC’s remake of “Dirty Dancing”. But I’m a Jewish feminist film critic, so I don’t simply follow directions. I also know that remakes are notoriously and often unfairly judged only in relation to the idolized original. So I wanted to see for myself the 2017 reinterpretation of this iconic 1987 film about a Jewish smart girl who discovers that she has a body as well as a mind.
Thank the Goddess, I didn’t watch it with commercials on Wednesday night, but I did give in to movie masochism over the Memorial Day weekend, courtesy of Hulu. Much as I would just like to forget about this astonishingly bad film, I think the specific left feet of this remake demands attention through a Jewish feminist lens.
Yes, as many professional critics and lay viewers note, the dancing is uneven at best, abysmal at worst, and I agree with the tweeter who suggested that Patrick Swayze must be turning over in his grave. Yes, the decision to have the 2017 Baby/Francis (Hannah Breslin) and Johnny (Colt Prattes) sing as well as dance doesn’t inspire confidence in the aesthetic vision undergirding this film. But it’s what the film does to Jewish smart girls and to feminist politics in 2017 that is depressingly instructive.